Practise what you preach

dontjusttalkAt The Voice College we’re big believers in teachers not only being strong singers with a deep understanding of how the voice works, but also having great performance chops and professional experience in the music and / or theatre industries. Very few people want to train to sing to their bedroom walls, so we think that teachers who have a multi-faceted professional experience as well as teacher training and plenty of voice-geek smarts are of more use to their students than ivory tower academics who know everything there is to know about formants but have never actually set foot on a stage or in a recording studio.

With all that in mind we thought we’d keep you up to date with what Team VC is doing, because they’re in uber-busy mode right now!

1658483_10152272621322432_2117460353_oFirst of all we need to welcome our newest teamster, Daniel Haslam. Dan is a singer, actor, vocal coach and musician (piano and guitar) who trained in musical theatre at the Dance School of Scotland and GSA Conservatoire in Guildford. He’s performed all over the world, including a European Tour of The Who’s Tommy, in concert for World Wide Events as one of The Twelve Tenors, and in the UK and European tours of The Twelve Irish Tenors for Spirit Productions. He’s also worked extensively as Principal Vocalist, Company Manager and Vocal Captain for Belinda King Creative Productions.


Dan’s teaching studio is in S.E. London and he revels in teaching cutting-edge vocal technique as well as performance skills. As a former Steve Balsamo Scholarship winner, Dan trained via the college to Advanced Professional Diploma level, and we’re totally gleeful to have welcomed him onto the team!

And as if that wasn’t enough… he’s just done session vocals for an album that went into the Top 5 on the iTunes Classical charts the week it was released, and in April ’17 is recording an album with four-part jazz vocal group 52nd Street. Busy busy!


alanTutor Alan Richardson joined us back in January, when he was still appearing in the UK national tour of Chicago the Musical. Having subsequently been out to Singapore with the show, he’s about to hit rehearsals for the national tour of The All-Male Mikado under Sasha Regan’s award-winning direction. The tour starts on April 18th at The Theatre Royal, Bath. If you’ve not seen one of the ‘all male’ productions we recommend that you go!


Meanwhile Senior Tutor and part of the Registration Team, Cordelia Lewis (aka Givvi 10623991_10205082445880301_8337631956353863740_oFlynn) continues to rock-star her way through life recording and performing with indie-pop band The Dowling Poole, who have done very-nicely-thank-you with their last two albums and are currently working on a third. Givvi has also been seen rocking out with The Wildhearts in recent times, including being very rock n roll by breaking her arm during sound check, nipping out to A & E to get it plastered up, then returning to do the gig in the evening. Dave Grohl eat your heart out.


17203056_10155022541696904_7143879545145999936_nTutor Chris Passey, as well as being in possession of a mighty voice and serious teaching chops, is a choir-master extraordinaire who has recently provided choirs for Josh Groban (UK tour) and Russell Watson (Songs of Praise). Chris has recently been out to Slovakia to study conducting under the tutelage of Simon Chalk, who is the Chief Conductor of the Slovak Sinfonietta and Artistic Director of the Southern Sinfonia. Simon has also worked extensively with internationally-renowned vocal group Il Divo.


cathyTutor Cathy Crompton not only works as a professional singer, but is also a choir-leader for the organisation Got to Sing. A firm believer in making singing accessible to everyone, Cathy combines her great pedagogical knowledge and infectious enthusiasm to bring the joy of singing to hundreds of amateur singers across The Midlands. A highly-trained singer and teacher, she’s one of the newest members of the team and a genuine asset.


204312_211276898884035_5846010_oSenior Tutor Christine Evans is a professional singer-songwriter and guitarist who gigs regularly and also leads a choir in her home town. Equally at home teaching in person or online, Christine has been with us longer than any other tutor and we’re not letting her go! Christine is also a qualified pharmacist and is a positive fount of information when it comes to what works and what is the stuff of myth and legend when it comes to treatment for poorly voices.


RiaFinally the Boss, Ria Keen has been busy since November writing the vocal arrangements and providing session vocals for her friend Jon Moses’ new album, and is looking forward to recording an album with 52nd Street (for whom she writes the complex and jazz-tastic arrangements) in April, alongside both Dan and Chris. She’s also looking forward to going back to work with the students at The Birmingham Theatre School for their Graduation Show this year.


So as you see, our teachers are not ‘just teachers’ – whatever that means – but also industry-savvy professionals with wide-ranging skills and (apparently) days with more than 24 hours in them! Students at The Voice College cite the tutors as one of the most important elements of their courses, because the tutors give so much of themselves to the work.

So if you’re thinking about training as a singing teacher, or taking a course to supplement or formalise your existing skills, why not have a look at our website, or come and say hi on Twitter or Facebook? We really have got a course for everyone, but more importantly we’ve got the tutors who’ll help you to succeed!










New team members for our expanding provision!

We’re working like very hard-working things behind the scenes for some fab new ‘stuff’ that’s going to be launching next year, and in order to make that happen we’ve had to expand our team so here are three of the new faces coming to a study room, workshop, webinar or course near you soon!


Alan Richardson


Currently on tour with the UK production of Chicago the Musical, Alan is a graduate of Guildford School of Acting, and completed his Advanced Professional Diploma at The Voice College earlier this year.

Alan’s also well-known for taking leading roles in the award-winning “All Male” G & S productions from Regan deWynter, and has a reputation for being one of the industry’s most accomplished falsettists, as well as a consummate actor.

Here he is in one of the trailers for “All Male Pirates of Penzance” which toured in 2015:

Alan is based in London and specialises in musical theatre and the falsetto voice. His students describe him as “brilliant” and we wouldn’t disagree! He’s also funny, personable and a proper voice geek who always goes the extra mile to get great results out of his students. He will be joining us as a Personal Tutor.


Chris Passey


Chris is our uber-knowledgeable ChoirMeister. A highly-sought after singing teacher, musical director, singer and choir director who just this year has appeared on tour with Josh Groban and on TV with Russell Watson, among many other credits.

Chris leads on a specially-created blended learning course for singing teachers who want to improve their piano skills, and will also be one of the lead tutors on our upcoming part-residential, part interactive online “MasterSinger” course which enrols from January and starts in September 2017. Not to be missed!

This always-busy man runs a private teaching practise from his studio in central Birmingham, sings with The Boss (Ria) in jazz vocal quartet 52nd Street, and runs Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts which is currently producing some outstanding opportunities for young performers.

Chris specialises in choral and musical theatre singing.


Cathy Crompton       

cathyCathy is a graduate of DeMontfort university where she got a BA (Hons) in Theatre, has a Diploma in Teaching Contemporary Singing and a Certificate in Applied Vocal Pedagogy from The Voice College, and has trained extensively with some of the country’s top singing teachers.

In common with all of our teachers, she’s a fanatical voice  geek and loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with her students in her busy private teaching studio in Ross on Wye.

Cathy leads several community choirs under the banner of the West Midlands-based Got2Sing organisation, and is already doing a great job mentoring students as a Personal Tutor at The Voice College!

Cathy specialises in pop vocals.


We’re delighted to welcome these exceptional teachers to the team, and to launching all of our mega-exciting projects for next year!




Workshops 2016 – Here come the details!

workshopWe’re delighted to be bringing you five unique workshops this Summer / Autumn. We’ve got something for everyone, and on top of that we’ve got the option to book 1, 2, 3, 4 or all 5 workshops to suit your own needs – the more you book the more you save.


Best of all, if you’re a teacher / student teacher attending all five workshops not only do you get the best price, but you will also earn a new qualification: the Level 1 Certificate in Applied Vocal Pedagogy.

IFAll workshops will take place in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside in an easy-to-access venue close to Junction 6 of the M5. Alternatively it’s a 10-minute taxi ride from either of Worcester’s two train stations. The days will run from 11am to 5pm, and all are suitable for both singers and singing teachers.



So here are the dates and details:

July 20th 2016: Let’s Get Physical! (For singers & teachers)

With College Principal Ria Keen and Consultant Physiotherapist Sue Cooke

Bodywork is seen as increasingly important when it comes to singing. This mega-fun, practical workshop will cover:

  • the anatomy and physiology of the voice (ever wanted to build your own working model larynx?),
  • brilliant hacks for getting improved tone, more power, greater range and better stamina from the voice by making simple adjustments to the body,
  • tips on how to ‘trick’ your students (or yourself!) into better singing with the use of simple props,
  • and a chance to check your posture and learn to gauge other people’s ,with our expert physio Sue. 


August 17th 2016: Fixing the Mix, and other Register Riddles (for singers & teachers)

With Ria Keen & other Voice College teamsters

Vocal registers probably cause more problems and raise more questions than any other issue among singers and singing teachers, and more often than not the problems begin with ‘the mix’ or middle voice. This much-requested workshop will address as many of your questions as can be fitted into one short day! Everything you ever wanted to know about registers, in the company of someone who knows this subject back to front, but promises not to teach it that way! Loads of practical work is involved so don’t worry about being bombarded with a ton of theory with no chance to practise – you’ll be singing and exploring the voice from the get-go.


September 21st: Wipe out the Worry & Wise Up that Warm Up! (for singers & teachers)

With Ria Keen and Gido Schimanski

All singers and all teachers (especially new ones!) worry. A lot. We worry that we’re not good enough. We worry that we’re ‘getting it wrong’. We worry that we’re not doing enough. Or that we’re doing too much. We actually talk ourselves out of being good at the very thing that brings us so much joy.

One of the things that people get anxious about is warming up. It sounds like it should be so simple, doesn’t it? And well… isn’t it? Well yes. And no. People get warm ups wrong for all kinds of reasons. We’ll show you what really works, what really doesn’t, and how to structure your sessions to maximise the benefits. You see, there’s a way to use exercises in a clever way, to develop the voice at the same time as warming it up. We also want to show you how to use one of the most effective but little-known vocal warm up & development exercises of all time.

Additionally, and importantly, we’ll be looking at how to deal with that negative self-talk that we’re all so good at. Internationally-renowned Transformation Coach Gido Schimanski will be showing you how to stop slamming the door in your own face, shooting yourself in the foot, talking yourself out of winning, and other bad habits that, let’s face it, we all fall prey to! He’s not only one of the loveliest people you could wish to meet, but he’s also smiley, handsome, extremely knowledgeable and the leading expert in his field, as well as being a West End veteran dancer, singer and actor. (Oh, and he was also in The Night Manager recently. Yes, really). Don’t miss it!


October 19th: Super-Charge Your Teaching! (for teachers, student teachers & would-be teachers)

With Senior Voice College tutor Christine Evans, and education / music consultant Marie McNally

Many new teachers, teachers who are currently studying to become qualified, and people who wonder if teaching might be for them get into a bit of a tizz about what constitutes good practice. They panic about whether they’re doing their students justice. And really often they’re concerned that they don’t know enough and can’t possibly be good enough to teach other people. And heaven forfend that someone asks them a question that they don’t know the answer to! The roof might fall in or someone might repossess their hamster, after all…

Teachers are afraid of a lot of stuff. A lot. Most creative people have a deep-seated belief that someone else could do a much better job. For example, many teachers are terrified of starting a choir, or preparing students for LCM (or similar) exams, or teaching groups, or teaching people with different voices to theirs, or… the list is pretty much endless.

This workshop is for all of you ‘new’ teachers (that’s really anyone who’s been qualified less than five years), current teaching students, the ‘maybe one day’ teachers, and people who currently teach but are not formally qualified, to help you with the best tips and tricks to get your teaching really rocking! Learn how to make your life easier with Senior Tutor Christine Evans. Once upon a time, she was you – she knows exactly how you feel and would love to help you gain confidence and learn some new chops.

The day will also feature a session with the spectacularly awesome Marie McNally, who is a leader on the national CME programme, a PhD student studying music education, and a professional singer and sax player. Also a really good egg and lots of fun to be around! She’ll be delivering a fab session which she describes as “being creative with things like arranging, performing, examining and directing among other things. Stuff that folk get scared of. We’ll discuss the amazing power of the brain then workshop ideas for getting work, developing projects, managing your business, managing parents, dealing with exams, and creating partnerships.” Marie’s an expert in her field, don’t miss this opportunity to work with one of the UK’s top music educators!


November 23rd: A chorus of approval! (for singing teachers & choir leaders)

With Chris Passey and Ria Keen

By hugely popular demand, a workshop for people who lead, or would like to lead a contemporary choir. Led by choirmaster and vocal coach extraordinaire Chris Passey (who recently supplied the choir for Josh Groban’s UK tour) and aided and abetted by Ria, this promises to be a hugely fun and really informative day!

You don’t have to be a Voice College student or graduate in order to attend – everyone is welcome. If you’re even thinking about starting a choir, this will be a perfect glimpse into the what, how and why of delivering a great experience for your singers. At The Voice College we believe that all singing teachers should think about running a choir if they can – the benefits to the singers, the teacher and the community are incalculable.

We know for sure that singing is good for the individual – it lowers blood pressure and increases the feelgood factor – but singing with other people multiplies the dividends exponentially. Come and learn all the tips and tricks of being a truly effective choir leader so that you can change people’s lives and get more singing out there into the world!


workshop 3Costs

We’ve tried hard to bring you all of the options to make your experience great whether you attend one workshop, a few, or all of them. The more you book, the bigger the discount per day.




Level 1 Certificate in Applied Vocal Pedagogy (all 5 workshops):  £310

4 workshops of your choice: £268

3 workshops of your choice: £219

2 workshops of your choice: £160

1 workshop of your choice: £85

Gido Schimanski session only: £47

Marie McNally session only: £47

We will contact you with all the location details and send an invoice once we have received your form.

The venue is spacious, light and airy, has two breakout rooms, a kitchen, and free parking. In order to keep costs down we’re recommending you bring a packed lunch (you are free to use the well-equipped kitchen) and we will provide still and sparkling water, tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit that you will be welcome to tuck into all day! Or if you prefer, there is a 2-for-1 pub very nearby serving lunches to suit all tastes (including gluten-free options).

We are all looking forward to seeing you there!

Legendary Singer P. J. Proby is new TVC Patron

P.J. Proby painting Hollywood

We are chuffed to rock n roll bits that legendary vocalist P. J. Proby has become Patron of the college today! He joins West End / Broadway royalty John Owen-Jones and singer-songwriter (and erstwhile Jesus impersonator) Steve Balsamo, along with esteemed author and vocal coach Dena Murray, who are also Patrons.

On joining The Voice College’s ranks of The Great and The Good, P.J. said this:


I feel it awarding to be a patron to the Voice College, simply because it’s such a wonderful idea and I cannot think of one reason why I never thought of such an obvious plan myself! It fulfils an age-old need that has been sadly overlooked for way too long. I may well need this idea myself one day, so what better time to start than now! Thank you all and Count me in!”
Yours sincerely,
P.J. Proby

13320826_1001558319925657_3566058990675368667_oVoice College Principal Ria Keen is a lifelong fan of P.J.’s, considering him one of the greatest voices of all time (an opinion she also holds of John and Steve), and has toured and worked with him extensively since 1991, including a never-to-be-forgotten show at The London Palladium and a fun night at Lincoln Castle, where she was joined by Voice College consultant Alex Weatherhill.

As part of P.J.’s patronage, each year The Voice College will give The P.J. Proby Achievement Award to one outstanding student, along with free entry to one of the college’s highly-respected CPD workshops during the year following the receipt of the award. See P.J.’s Patron Page on our website.

P.J. is very big on voice training, having  had extensive training himself in Hollywood in the 1950s with famous coach Lillian Goodman. Ms Goodman helped him to develop the astonishing vocal range, power, stamina and flexibility that he enjoys to this day; his voice is as strong as ever and that’s just as well, as he embarks on a 26-date tour between September 23rd and November 1st this year! P.J. has told Ria that she reminds him of the formidable Ms Goodman in many ways. Now there’s a compliment!

Needless to say, everyone at The Voice College is absolutely delighted to have a rock n roll legend on board and giving us his support. Welcome, P.J., and thank you!






VIDLA is now The Voice College!

TVC Master (transparent BG)

You may have noticed over the last week that our website and social media accounts have undergone a bit of a transformation. We’ve not been taken over by alien invaders, we’ve just made the decision to re-brand the college because thanks to you we’ve grown so much over the last few years!

VIDLA stood for Vocalist International Distance Learning Academy and for a long time that worked because distance learning was what we focused on pretty much exclusively. In recent years though we’ve been adding to our provision with residential courses, workshops, one to one training and bespoke courses, so the name just didn’t fit anymore.

The other thing was, if you didn’t know what VIDLA meant then as a casual onlooker you probably weren’t going to work it out…So we figured while we were getting ready to launch our shiny new logo, look and feel, we’d change the name to something that makes it obvious from outer space what it is that we do – and so, The Voice College was born.

For those of you already studying with us, or who have studied with us in the past, fear not! Nothing fundamental has changed – we’re the same team, the same college, the same systems. All that’s really different is the decor (and we hope you like it)! What it does mean is that the things we have in development, outside of the distance-learning model, will sit very happily alongside our current provision under the new name.

To celebrate the re-brand, we’re happy to announce a run of workshops over the next few months, focusing on subjects that our students have specifically asked for. For the record, you don’t have to be enrolled on one of our courses to attend a workshop – everyone is welcome.

We’ll announce details for the workshops in a separate post but we can tell you that they will be in Central Birmingham – nice and easy from anywhere in the country! – on these dates:

  • July 21st
  • August 18th
  • September 22nd
  • October 20th

…and we’ll be covering a range of subjects including skills for choir leaders, teaching techniques and approaches for ‘new’ teachers, the ever-popular vocal registers, connecting & grounding the voice, physiology, singing for kids – and more! Details will be on Facebook, Twitter, the website and this blog later in the week, and we very much look forward to working with you.

As a cherry on the cake we’ll also be announcing a new Patron this month – an absolutely legendary singer and a fitting companion to our existing Patrons, musical theatre star John Owen Jones (currently on Broadway playing Jean Valjean in Les MisérablesSteve Balsamo (currently taking the country / Americana / independent release charts by storm as part of Balsamo Deighton with their new album Unfolding), and highly respected American author & voice teacher Dena Murray. We’re very lucky to have their support and can’t thank them enough!

Thanks for bearing with us as we evolve from VIDLA into The Voice College – and here’s to an even more successful future helping singers and singing teachers achieve their goals.




Voice Donation – Yes, this is a thing! Donate YOUR voice for World Voice Day.

April 16th is World Voice Day, and this year we wanted to do something extra-special, so we started a Voice Drive for VocalID, which is an organisation that allows people to ‘bank’ recordings of their voice, so that it can be turned into a life-like, fully-functional voice for people who have lost theirs through illness.

Here’s the video we made about it specially for World Voice Day:


And, because she can explain it far better than we can, here’s the incredible lady who heads up the project:


It costs nothing for you to bank and donate your voice. It’s very easy to do via desktop, laptop, tablet or even mobile phone, and you can record just a handful of sentences at a time if that’s easier to fit in to your schedule (we’re all busy people)! So you don’t need to worry about completing everything in one go – the VocalID software remembers where you got up to and saves all of your previously-banked sentences.

How would you feel if you lost your voice to illness? Not great, right? Then please consider giving a little of your time to help someone to give someone the gift of speech.

Balsamo Deighton album launch night, Italian-style!

A three-hour drive through biblical weather, a somewhat dodgy encounter with a man with a very strong grip, and nearly getting locked in the car park were the things that topped and tailed the evening of Saturday 6th Feb 2016 for me, Ria Keen and VIDLA Registrar Cordelia Lewis (aka Givvi Flynn), but what happened in between those two things was sheer joy!

UnfoldingThe venue was Coast Italia, an atmospheric, authentic and welcoming Pugliese restaurant / cafe / bar on Swansea High Street, and the occasion was the launch of Unfolding – the first album from singer-songwriters Steve Balsamo (famous for being a Jesus impersonator and one-time frontman of The Storys), and Rosalie Deighton of The Deighton Family (and also ex-Storys)!

We expected some lovely musical moments and we got plenty of them – all tunes from the album, including Light in the Dark, for which Steve sent up a prayer to be put on the hallowed Radio 2 playlist; the lovely Dream Song, which was inspired by a conversation that Steve had with Vicky Lord, wife of the late Jon Lord with whom Steve toured extensively; Long Way Round which for my money is one of the stand-out songs on the album, and of course the glorious title tune Unfolding which starts with Steve’s solo voice, a capella. If you are in any doubt about how wonderful a voice this man has, you only have to put on a pair of headphones and listen to the first 25 seconds of this track. If that tone doesn’t make you want to buy the album, nothing will!

Coast Italia chef Michele de Vincenzo created a glorious buffet that took us and the rest of the diners straight to Puglia (which is another word for Heaven, as anyone who’s been there will know!), and the atmosphere was just perfect for Steve and Rosalie’s easy-going onstage presence.

BalsamoDeighton - 003We were treated to a lot of stories and big ol’ music biz name-drops that of course delighted everyone there. Pick of the bunch of the stories (or maybe that should be Storys…) involved a woeful tale of a massive big deal of a stadium gig supporting Celine Dion with a bemused dep guitarist who should have been marking papers at university but instead found himself staring down the barrel of a 60,000-strong audience, a sound crew who didn’t want to play fair but eventually pretended to, and then the disaster of going onstage only to find that fair play had gone out of the window and none of the band could hear anything through their in-ears. On that subject, I was delighted to hear that Steve hates in-ears as much as I do. I’m old-school like him, and believe in-ear monitoring to be the work of Be’elzebub and all his minions… But back to the point: the very best part of the tale of woe was Steve’s note-to-self, “When in doubt, faint.” Happily on that occasion he decided against that course of action, the band got a standing ovation and lived to fight another day. (Not enough days, sadly – they split up not long after! – but you can still buy their albums and I highly recommend that you do, especially if you’re a fan of country rock/pop and Eagles-style harmonies).

BalsamoDeighton white ripped
Josie, Givvi, Ria, Dave

Cordelia and I were lucky enough to be sitting next to Rosalie’s folks, Dave and Josie Deighton of The Deighton Family, a folk ensemble with a touch of the von Trapps about them, who toured the world and released three successful albums back in the day. They were an absolute joy to meet, and many a dressing-room and on-the-road tale was exchanged. Dave hand-makes the guitars that Rosalie plays on all Balsamo Deighton recordings. Be sure to check out his work.

We heard during the evening that the album was already on the charts, and the idea has got to be to get it into the Top 40. So with your help, we can definitely make that happen! The album is available all over the known universe. WellBalsamoDeighton - 015 Giv Steve Ria white ripped, OK, on iTunes, Amazon, in HMV stores… or just Google it, it’s not difficult to track down. We’d love for this album to be a huge success for Steve because we just love him to bits, for Balsamo Deighton because the music is beautiful, and for the independent music maker in general – all of the musicians out there who are working their butts off to get an album launched. Unfolding took six years to bring to fruition. Let’s make it the success that it fully deserves to be, eh?

Thanks to Steve, Rosalie, the fabulous musos who played alongside them (let me know you are are chaps and I’ll give you a proper mention!), everyone at Coast Italia, and yes, even the chap who accosted us on the way back to the car… such things make a night memorable, no?

Point of blog, in case you’d missed it ;-):

Unfolding, the new album by Balsamo Deighton, available on CD, download, and even on good old-fashioned vinyl should you wish for such a thing. Go fetch. We have.


Album trailer video

iTunes preview

Amazon UK

Balsamo Deighton website

Interview with Steve about the album

Photos all taken by Givvi Flynn of Streamline Design, not on her usual super-duper camera but on her trusty iPhone 6!