‘We make a community of each other.’

Memorial University school of music and Festival 500 wants to grow voices in the province.

Brittany Critch
Kicker

On Jan. 12, Memorial University kicked off their So You Always Wanted to Sing program. The program, which is part of the Festival 500, is an adult singing course that provides voice training.

Leanne Kearsey teaches at the school of music at Memorial University in St. John’s. Kearsey believes everyone can learn to sing. Brittany Critch/Kicker 

Some techniques the instructors focus on are breathing, tone and posture. The class includes 12 to 19 students, to create a less overwhelming atmosphere for the students, and remove the pressures that come from singing alone.

“People seem to want to do this,” said Susan Knight, founder of Festival 500. “People seem joyful and surprised that they can do this thing they didn’t think they could.”

Their program is centred around the belief that anyone can sing and that singing makes people happy and joyful.

Shelley Neville, who teaches voice at Memorial University, says anyone can sing.

“Singing has brought people together” said Neville. “From a mother singing to her baby, a singer at any kind of event, it allows people to sit back and enjoy.”

The instructors of So You Always Wanted to Sing have a strong understanding of musical and social aspects of singing. Once in the program, the teachers like to have a chat with students about their past history of singing.

Knight says the program helps adults get to the next phase of singing. Many people who have had bad experiences with their voice often enrol in this program to regain confidence.

“This program teaches people to control their own voice,” Knight said. “Students have to be the boss of their own voice. The teachers want everyone to understand that people are anxious because singing is such an exposing activity. Many people tend to shy away because they feel embarrassed.”

Knight says this program helps build a sense of a community, and with each group of people comes a community of support.

“They’re all risking a bit of themselves when they get up to sing. The program builds a trust between the teachers and the students,” said Knight. “We make a community of each other.”

The class takes place Thursday evenings from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $300 for the seven-week program.

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