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Narelle's Teaching Philosophy


I received my first private voice lesson at the age of fourteen, starting with a 2-pax group class with my worship mentor from church. The teacher taught me classical styles of singing and I didn't enjoy the lessons as I had more interest in contemporary styles then. At such a young age, I didn't know how to properly express myself. So just after 3 months of lessons, I told my Mom that I wanted to halt the lessons. I stopped for about 2.5 years and didn't do any sort of vocal training since. But by age 17, I was serving a lot at church and also doing wedding gigs as a vocalist. The pursuit to study vocal techniques then dawned upon me where I felt that I wasn't very well trained formally and that I should do something to take my singing to the next level. However, I faced a problem. I couldn’t find one teacher who was good in multiple contemporary music genres (e.g pop, jazz, rock, r&b, soul, musical theatre). So I ended up learning from a few different singing teachers to pursue a specific genre. It was a really confusing journey to a late teenager, especially when each teacher has his/her own approach. I had some teachers who motivated me in my growth as a singer, but I also have met fierce ones who intimated me so much that I dread going to lessons because I got punched in the stomach once for not using my diaphragm properly. Or getting my nose pinched because I was too nasal. So when I decided to be a voice teacher, I told myself that I must master all contemporary styles so that I can help any student with their repertoire and allow them to pursue songs of their interest. I also told myself that I needed to be a coach too. I needed to prep my students for the right mindset, provide constructive feedback instead of critique and journey with them in their music learning. It shouldn’t frighten them but rather inspire them.

The Gift Of Singing

A musical instrument is defined as a device used to produce musical sounds (pitch/note). Our singing voice is a musical instrument just like a piano or guitar, because it can match pitch. But, the speaking voice is not. Let me explain further. So let’s say I sing a note into a pitch app, it picks up a specific note (e.g middle C, C4), but if I go back to my speaking voice, the pitch app will look very “confused”; all kinds of alphabets (notes) and number (octave range) will appear and not stabalising on the app. But if I hit a note on the piano, pluck a string on the guitar or sing back a note, the pitch app can then stabilise again on one specific note.

We all are giving the gift of speaking and singing. But only so few people are curious to study & discover their singing voices. It’s a free musical instrument innate in us, you don’t need to go to a music store to buy it, and it’s also super portable, you can sing anywhere literally! I recall my gigging days where my keyboardist would need to transport his synthesizer as the venue didn’t have a piano on site. Carrying other instruments around is really quite a hassle. Not for singing though! So my passion is in helping individuals discover that they can tap into this “gift”. And once they learn how to control it, they can do amazing things with their voices. Attaining true vocal euphoria is the best experience anyone can have. I want my students to have that joy to experience that for themselves too.


The Singing Voice - The Most Fascinating Instrument

I pursued piano at a very tender age of 6 and guitar during my teens. But out of my experience with these instruments, I find working on my singing voice the most fascinating. We need relative pitch, good breath support/stamina, open throat technique for vocal freedom, articulation tricks when attempting songs, blending skills of the 4 vocal registers, emoting expressions, throwing improvisations etc. It’s a multi-disciplinary approach. I simply love the technicality of it! However, that said, the singing voice is the most difficult instrument to pick up as its harder to control. If we have a bad mood, we can bang the keys on a piano, and walk away, or burst a string on a guitar and replace it the next day. But with our singing voice, we can’t. We need a lot of care and proper training to approach singing in a healthy and safe way.


The History of How I Developed My Methodology

After 20 years of vocal training and active singing, I saw how my voice evolved and was super excited to share with people my singing tips. I started vocal coaching in November 2014 very humbly from home first with just a few students. But within 6 months of home teaching, my student base grew fast and I had to start renting a commercial space out of home and decided to incorprate the business as well in June 2015. My first year of teaching, honestly speaking, I wasn’t very experienced back then. What my previous voice teachers gave me, I gave the same exercises to my students. Slowly, I start to find that individual voices shape very differently and I can’t continue this cookie cutter method to everyone and prepped myself up for teaching failure. I had to do something about this. I need inspiration and I wasn’t getting any, it was then that I decided to pause and pray for my business. I prayed for God to enlighten me and give me a clear mission & vision for my business. It was around end 2016 that God finally sparked in me this “7 Fundamental Keys to Great Singing” system that can help singers achieve breakthroughs in their voices, in a simplified, structured manner. And ever since then, I didn’t need strive hard to find new students. If a system works, people will know how to find you.


The Methodology

Every new student will need to sign up for a trial class first. I will do a detailed vocal assessment using my 7 Fundamental Keys, such as conducting Pitch Awareness Test, Vocal Range Discovery, Stamina Assessment etc. What my students are good at, I try to build their confidence through these strengths and where they’re weak at, that’s where I come in with my expertise to provide achievable solutions. My forte is in contemporary styles, so because of this, I developed alot of pop song vocal exercises along the way over my 9 years of teaching voice. I recall my past training when I was a student. My past learning journey was mostly boring and always those same old scales (e.g arpeggios, rossini scale etc), or holding your breath on a hiss. It was my drive towards mastering proper vocal techniques that kept me going. Those exercises didn’t motivate me at all. I just did for the sake of doing it. So when I started to build these pop song exercises for my students and myself too, I hope it was modern enough to capture their interest and for them to look forward to training as well. I’m still building up my catalog of exercises as the years go by, but I do have quite a lot so far that are multi-technique or breath stamina specific which are pretty good workouts. Warmups are not vocal workouts. I will always inform my students about each exercise we do, letting them know what’s the purpose and why. To build Intermediate level skills onwards, vocal workouts are so crucial to add to your vocal training.


Goal-Setting With My Students

Students who journey with me, I will organize a list of goals so that we are working towards the same objective as soon as possible. Students are also responsible for journal entries discussing any of their thoughts from the lesson that may relate back to accomplishing these goals, such as practice strategies, reviews of performances or recordings relevant to the repertoire assigned, or general thoughts about their current progress or hardships faced both in and out of the studio.


What Makes An Effective Vocal Coach (striving to be one all the time!)

An effective voice teacher to me is one who has a structured method of educating the student, starting with student’s song interests first and then eventually choosing repertoire that aids in constructing an all-encompassing understanding of technique. In addition, I think excellent singing teachers would also:

  • set goals with students and check in on them over time

  • assess the voice before students start with them so they can see where a student is at functionally and identify what needs to be strengthened

  • focus on the student’s voice during the class instead of them talking about themselves for half the lesson

  • talk positively or neutrally about other singing teachers and voice professionals

  • creates a safe space for student to make mistakes around them

  • students feel heard and not squashed by them

  • they don’t discourage you from seeking out other vocal pathways

  • they use affirming, kind, positive language

  • they tactfully point out vocal issues and help students solve them in the same session

  • they participate in regular professional development

  • respond calmly and with grace when students have to reschedule a class

  • they encourage you to read, watch, seek out other forms of singing development

  • they have more than one way to explain exercises

  • students feel confident and comfortable trying new vocal skills and songs around them

  • you don’t feel forced into a “box” of a particular pedagogy, method or model

  • they refer you on when they know something is not their area of expertise


What is Singing Sucess?

It’s a positive mindset that “Yes, I can sing and I’m going to learn the method of proper vocal techniques and master the art of singing well from an expert”. It is not resigning to the fate that “Only talented people can pick up singing or be good at singing”.

But on top of having the right mindset, we also need to identify where our starting point is. Where are you at now? Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced level? Once we determine your current standard of singing, we can then set SMART goals and work towards it according to your learning pace and commitment level. Pro-activeness also plays a huge role in the training process & towards singing success. I call pro-activeness my “silent practice”. Vocal training is often perceived to be noisy - “I’m disturbing my family and neighbours”. But did you know that silent practice is as effective too? Practicing doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself in a room until you get it, it can also be:

  • listening to your recorded voice lesson on your walk or while commuting

  • studying sheet music at a cafe

  • reciting your lyrics while stuck in traffic

  • or just simply grooving to music to feel it in your body

You can achieve the same breakthrough in your singing voice too. Ask yourselves these questions before you embark on this journey -

  1. How much interest do I have to pursue the singing skill?

  2. What is my dream song?

  3. Will I be able to set aside a fixed time for practice, and commit to the vocal lessons over a period of time?

  4. Do I have the financial budget to learn this 1-to-1?


Thank you for taking the time to read my teaching philosophy. I hope it gives you a better idea if this is something you want to pursue alongside with me. If you're ready to begin, I'm all in to be your cheerleader! 

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