Choral Holidays - Singing in wonderful locations

Posted under: "General Blog Post"

Jan 26, 12:16 PM

Being taught by Jeff - Article by Valerie Blumenthal, Novelist

It was with some trepidation, two years ago, that I knocked on Jeff Stewart’s front door and announced myself as his new student. I had always been a keen amateur singer – even done all the grades – and had belonged to various choirs, but I had not sung for several years and was distinctly rusty.
Jeff quickly put me at ease. At the risk of embarrassing him terribly, I must tell you he is a delightful person, who is empathetic, patient and encouraging. His approach is uniquely holistic. With Jeff I have literally found my voice. It transpired that over the years I had acquired a fair few bad habits (singing-wise, that is) and his task – one might say, mission – has been to rid me of them. Though I do wish he didn’t have X-ray eyes. How does he know when I haven’t taken a proper breath? How can he spot that my jaw is a smidgeon clenched. Or my tongue in the wrong place? And so forth. And of course he is always correct, and when I stop clenching and start breathing, and rescue my errant tongue, the sounds I make are infinitely better. He manages to coax (bully?) really quite decent notes from me, and at an age when my voice should be deteriorating, it is instead continually improving. Even my posture is better: I enter the music room at the start of a lesson, tense, and conscious of half a dozen mysterious aches and pains; I leave, blissfully ach-free and invigorated.
Jeff himself has an incredible voice, but that alone would not necessarily make him a good teacher. It takes more than that… And Jeff has it. Intent on drawing the best from you, he focuses all his sharp-eyed, sharp eared attention entirely on his student, giving completely of himself. If I had just one word in which to sum him up as a tutor, that word would be: Inspirational.
Oh and he makes a mean cup of tea.

 

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