Ian’s Life Story “My University Days”

July 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Ian's Blog

Part 1 Part 2 Part3 Part 4

Moving to Brisbane in 1998 was a big step for me.  It was my first time venturing into the world by myself.  I have always been a family orientated person and to be living 8 hours away was quite a shock to the system!  My accommodation for my first 6 months was a student boarding house.  It wasn’t the ideal environment for a classical singer.  It was hard to get to sleep at night with other university students playing baseball in the hallways!  It was however a great “social experience” mixing with other people around my age with different interests and views on life.  Living in the middle of a major capital city was a big distraction for a small coastal town guy.  With countless clubs and bars in the area most of my weekends were spent partying with my new found friends.  I became very worldly (or so I thought) in my first 6 months living in Brisbane with many great and some not so great experiences.

Being totally immersed in an environment that you love is very inspiring.  That was my initial experience at the Conservatorium of Music.  I remember watching in awe as some of the senior students presented recitals.  I was regularly given the chance to perform for my peers in vocal workshops.  At first it is a little confronting having a room full of singing students and a panel of vocal coaches basically putting you under a microscope to access your flaws and your strengths.  It was a little scary but very insightful and I learned a lot about my voice by going through this process.  I was very lucky to be taught by one of Australia’s most respected teachers Professor Janet Delpratt during my 4 years at the Conservatorium.  She was very good at teaching the technical side of singing and I incorporate a lot of her techniques and ideas when I am coaching my own students.

I was also very lucky to have a fantastic movement coach.  She was known as a very tough person to please but she took a liking to me!  In fact I was the first person in the Conservatorium to receive a high distinction for movement as a first year student.  I had very little dance experience and coaching when I began the course and for some crazy reason I was cast as a dance soloist for the Company productions.  Imagine me dressed only in knee length pants with a Native American headpiece spinning and leaping around the stage! Eventually I was given lead roles as a singer as I progressed through the course.

After my first 6 months at the Conservatorium I moved out of the Student lodging and into my own place.  My parents bought an investment property quite close to the Conservatorium which I was to call home for the next 3 years.  It was a much more “singer friendly” environment.

In the year 2000 something wonderful happened!  I actually started to get paid to sing!  I was officially the baritone soloist for the St Stephen’s Cathedral.  Now I know that probably doesn’t sound to exciting but at the time it was great to have my talent recognized and to have a bit of money coming in!  At the end of the year a few friends of mine formed a vocal quartet to do corporate gigs during the Christmas period.  My role in the group was to sing the baritone parts.  I was also the groups “human tuning fork” as I have perfect pitch (which means I can sing a note on the piano without hearing it first).  Many of my Aussie subscribers will have heard of the soprano in our group.  Her name is Kate Miller Heidke.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Kate I suggest you do a search in youtube!

2001 was a difficult year for me.  This was to be the last year of my degree and the reality was beginning to set in.  Where is my life heading?  I had lost my passion and courage as a singer.  Perhaps this the result of being “institutionalized” or the fact that I just wasn’t passionate about classical singing.  I just didn’t feel like myself anymore.  I was barely getting by with my paid singing jobs.  I was given a glimmer of hope after auditioning for the Queensland Opera Company.  I made it to their reserve list but there was no guarantee that I would get a position.  I was struggling fiancially and emotionally.  I had lost touch with who I was as a singer and a person.  A change was needed so I decided to get back to my roots and move back to my home town of Port Macquarie.  It was time to get my mojo back!

Read More

Share on Facebook

Ian’s Life Story. “School and Discovering My Voice”

July 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Ian's Blog

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

It was time to do some research into this fascinating world of singing.  My Grandmother had quite a collection of CD’s.  Ranging from classical, country music, ballads, and musical theatre.  I asked her if I could borrow all of her musical theatre CD’s.  Night after night I would listen to amazing singers believing without a doubt that I could sound like that too.  When alone in the house I would sing along completely oblivious to any “technique” required to sing these very difficult songs.  I had absolutely no preconceived ideas about singing.  I was fearless and singing with pure passion, but at this stage completely in secret.

Here in Australia our final 2 years at school are dedicated to the HSC (High School Certificate).  We are required to nominate subjects to specialize in.  Music was obviously my specialty so that was one of the subjects I chose.  Throughout the year I was required to do “assessment tasks” which usually meant a performance of a piece of music from a particular genre.  For the first half of the year I performed some piano pieces and a couple of saxophone solos.  My moment of truth came when I had to perform something from “stage and screen”.  I decided “This is it!  Look out world here I come!” I decided to play and sing “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera”.  I had a small audience of my music teacher and 3 classmates.  They were left speechless.  I was known as the quiet guy, who had a few friends but mainly kept to himself.  Here I was singing this huge song from one of the biggest musicals in the world.  My secret was out!

I had the same reaction from my parents when I performed the song for them that same night.  My Mother’s response was “where did that voice come from?”  Things progressed very quickly from that moment.  Not only did I love to sing, but I loved seeing the shocked expressions on people’s faces.  My school was very well known for its sporting achievements and during the 90′s you were very popular if you were a part of the school team.  It was not popular however to be a 17 year old musical theatre singer!  That did not stop me from persuing my dreams and performing at every opportunity!

During my final year at school my music teacher suggested that I have some singing lessons.  Being an overly confident 18 year old my first thought was “I don’t need them”.  My sister was also interested in singing and wanted lessons so I thought “Ok I’ll give it a go”.  I started having lessons with an older gentleman who by his own addmission didn’t focus on singing technique.  He was a very experienced performer and shared with me a lot of advice and gave me plenty of opportunities to perform in public.  It was during this year that I debuted in the muscial “Hello Dolly” as the leading man playing opposite someone more than twice my age as the leading lady!  It was a wonderful experience and gave me plenty of confidence.

At the end of 1996 I auditioned for a position in the musical theatre course from WAAPA (Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts) which is the same course Hugh Jackman did.  Unfortunately they said I was too young and needed more life experience.  So I decided to take a year off studying to focus on singing.  My teacher suggested that perhaps I might be better suited to opera.  I trusted his advice and began studying the art form.  My voice certainly suited the classical style and I enjoyed the challenge but my heart really wasn’t in it.  During this year I performed the lead role in “Oklahoma” and had my own “gig” at a local club singing to mostly intoxicated sportsman!  I also entered as many talent contests as I could winning some very nice prizemoney and the respect of some industry heavyweights.

My teacher encouraged me to audition for the prestigious Queensland Conservatorium of Music at the end of 1997 to study Classical Voice.  I did so and was offerred a position in the 4 year course for 1998 with one of Australia’s best classical teachers.  I accepted the position and began the next chapter in my life.

Read more

Share on Facebook