Life as a Singer and Vocal Coach

July 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Ian's Blog

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When I moved back to Port Macquarie I decided to take a break from singing.  I was fortunate to be handed a job as a builder’s laborer, which was a world away from life as a singing student!  After a few months of early mornings, back breaking work and sweating in the hot sun, my passion for singing quickly returned!  I auditioned for the leading role in the musical “Carousel” and got it.  I felt like my life was heading in the right direction again.  Unfortunately I became quite sick for the majority of the performances.  Unfortunately I didn’t have an understudy so I had to perform the role night after night which was a struggle but I got through it.

In 2002 with my renewed passion for singing I decided to audition for the Queensland Opera Company for a second time.  I was accepted and was given a contract for two operas.  Life as a professional singer is great.  To get paid well for a job that you love is a dream come true.  I loved the rehearsal process, working with world class directors and sharing the stage with international guest performers.  Performing for over 2000 people a night was a little more daunting to performing for 250 people in my home town, but I loved every minute.  The only downside to the life of a professional singer is the work is very seasonal.  Unless you have another “gig” lined up you can go months before doing another show with a company.  I decided I would move back to Port Macquarie (again!) as I knew I had a steady (real) job to go back to if I wanted it.  My plan was to base myself in Port Macquarie and move away for a few months at a time when I was offered a singing contract.

Upon my arrival back home I was offered a job teaching singing at a local music school.  Up to this point I hadn’t considered teaching as a profession but I thought with my experience I would be able to offer students some insights into the world of singing.  I started out with just a few students but as the year progressed I ended up teaching about 15 singers.  I knew I had the experience to teach but what took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed it!  I also saw the need in the area for an experienced qualified teacher as there are a lot of “teachers” out there who basically have no idea of what they are doing!  Having been a student myself I know how damaging it can be if you don’t have a good teacher from the start.

At the beginning of 2004 I faced a dillema.  I was in a serious relationship and I had discovered a new passion for teaching.  I was also offered a contract for another 2 operas in Queensland.  It would mean leaving my girlfriend and students for four months.  I will never know if I made the right decision for my performing career but I decided to stay where I was.  I had established myself as a respected and fresh singing teacher and my students were certainly very happy that I stayed.

Fast foward to 2009 and I can honestly say that I don’t regret my decision to focus on teaching in any way.  I stopped teaching at the music school in 2006 as I knew I could manage myself as a business.  I don’t like to call myself a “Singing Teacher” these days as most of the singers who come to me already know how to sing.  I consider myself a Vocal Coach.  A coach knows how to work with the strengths of an individual.  I also work with a lot of dancers, giving them the skills needed to succeed in a very competitive field.  The techniques that I use are an interesting mix of classical and contemporary.  I also focus on energy and try to simplify singing.

I am blessed to live in a town that has a very strong performing arts community.  I constantly have the opportunity to perform both professionally and for charities.  As I write this post I am winding down from a performance for the opening of a $60Million theatre just minutes from where I live.  I have built up a clientel of over 70 students during the past couple of years.  I can’t physically fit any more students into my schedule which is why I have developed Aussie Vocal Coach.  I want to help as many singers as I can in this world as I know how much joy singing can bring to your life if you have the right coach.

I would be honored to work with you and have you help me write the next chapter in my life.

Your Aussie Vocal Coach,

Ian Castle

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Comments

11 Responses to “Life as a Singer and Vocal Coach”
  1. Caleb says:

    Lovely life story. you’re very fortunate in that you’ve always had a knack for singing. I too sort of have a naturally decent voice. It definatly couldn’t rival yours at my age i’m posotive, but it works for most music. I’m in a band and I sing for us but I’m just now–finally, at age 18–learning the techniques in singing. I used to always sing from my throat and not apply my dyaphragm because i knew no better. but now, I’m learning, and practicing, and applying all the knowledge I can get towards improving my vocal quality. I hope that my band will be able to sound better and appreciate more audible and lovely singing. Thank you for your cost-free website Ian. I hope that everything I pick up in here will help my voice to develop (including your vocal warm ups which are taking longer than my coffee haha).

  2. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Caleb!

    Thankyou for commenting on my life story. I certainly am fortunate that I am able to sing. It’s something that I will never take for granted. I’m happy that you are working on improving your voice. It’s my goal to educate young singers like yourself on how to look after your voice and develop it properly.

    The vocal warm up is kind of long huh! It’s actually more like a full singing lesson now that I can look back on it! I plan to record a much shorter version so that you can enjoy a hot coffee!

    Please don’t hestitate to ask any questions. I love answering them!

    Ian

  3. Laura says:

    Hi Ian, I don’t exactly know how I found your website.
    I was looking for some tutoring online because it’s convenient… having children and all. I am blessed to be involved with a great worship team in a Christian Outreach Centre, church, here in the south of England! This is a movement of churches born in Australia! Praising God at the best of my “natural” ability as well as in Spirit and in truth is my goal.
    my two boys (7 and 4) just love music singing dancing and the beautiful atmosfere of it. Your life story just enspired me to press in my personal walk as a singer so that they can be even better than I. I thank you so much for giving your experience online for free, may God bless you for that, and encrise everything you do. So I look forward to be part of your news letter list and follow your progress as well as take advangege of your expertise!

  4. admin says:

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you for the comment. I feel blessed that I am able to help and inspire other people with what I do. It’s my way of giving something back to the “online” world I guess. It’s great that your boys are embracing singing and dancing at a young age. I look forward to hearing more of your story.

    Ian

  5. Aim says:

    Ciao Ian!
    I’m from Italy. I found your video in one the american vocal coach sites and i said to myself, “let me see this one”, from then on I got stuck with you. Thanks a lot for your generosity in giving us loads of free information(which others are too greedy to share), to help us improve our voice.

    BTW, i’m a religious friar and i really love to sing in the church and in our choir during our prayer time (we chant our psalms in gregorian), but i have a problem with my throat. My voice kind a crack when i change register from chest to mix voice. I couldn’t smoothly maintain the register change. Any suggestions? Applying your vocal tune up and warm up has helped a lot. I have shared you too to my confreres in other community so that when they have their music practice they would apply your vocal warm ups.

    Thanks a lot again. God bless and more power!

  6. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Ciao Aim!

    You are most welcome. I am very grateful for my life and this website and the content I provide is my way of giving back to others.

    I actually did a vocal workshop a few months ago with someone from a Gregorian chant choir. (I was participating not conducting the workshop) Very interesting structure to the sound.

    The register break from chest to mix voice can become smoother by adding a cry or sob sound to the voice. It’s a little hard to demonstrate via text so I will add this to my “to do” video list :)

    Ian

  7. Aim says:

    Ciao Ian!

    Thanks a lot for considering my post! Very much appreciated. I will certainly wait for the promised video “cry or sob sound to the voice” to smooth the register break from chest to mix voice.

    Once again, more power and God bless!

    Aim :)

  8. AJ says:

    Hello!
    You have truly inspired me with your life story. My ambition is to become a professional singer and now that I have read this I know I will never give up. I’m in a band called 2 and a 1/2 Indian(Me being the half) and we have a 1 hour gig coming up in July which is great!…for us anyway, maybe not for the audience but we’ll still have a good time. Do you have any performance tips?

    AJ :D

  9. Ally Chumley says:

    Hi Ian,
    I remember you from ‘Carousel’ at the Players’ Theatre in Port. I was a stage manager, mostly tangled up in those damned stars we had hanging from fishing lines! I was impressed with your determination to bring some professionalism to the performance, despite its small-town status and despite your illness. You had me humming “My Boy Bill” on the way home each night! Glad to hear your career is humming along so nicely, and life too, it seems.

    Cheers,

    Ally.

  10. admin says:

    Hi Ally,
    I have to admit I’m struggling to put a face to your name! I’m sure if I saw you I’d remember :) Carousel seems so long ago, well I guess it was perhaps 8 years ago.
    I do remember being quite sick for the majority of that show which wasn’t much fun.
    Life is certainly great and busy at the moment!

    Thanks for “dropping by” ;)
    Ian

  11. Thomas says:

    It can’t be denied that music is what’s inside your heart. Your dedication to music really defines your passion. Australia should be proud of you and your contributions. Keep up the good work!

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