the british voice association


Finding Your Inner Jazz: Voice, style and pedagogy

'Finding Your Inner Jazz' 2019 course posterSunday 22nd September 2019, 10am – 4:45pm
Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Rd., Kings Cross, London WC1X 8BZ*

Though a century-old, jazz singing is still a mystery to many singers and teachers. This interactive study day with masterclass, led by expert jazz singers, teachers and voice researchers, offers a practical and pedagogical overview of jazz voice and vocal style. You can learn about signature jazz voice timbres, their technical and expressive management, electronic manipulation, and similarities and differences to classical and pop singing. The event aims to demystify the role of improvisation in jazz vocal performance, and to help you find your inner jazz.


  • Louise Gibbs
    Jazz styles and signature voices
  • Pete Churchill
    Rhythm musicianship for jazz voice
  • Line Hilton
    Vocal qualities and register transitions in jazz
  • Anton Browne
    Microphones, technique and technology: jazz to pop
  • Sara Colman & Sarah Wright-Owens
    Jazz vocal improvisation and pedagogy

What will the Finding Your Inner Jazz event cover?
This is the first British Voice Association (BVA) jazz event, and the first in the UK, that connects jazz singing, style and improvisation with evidence-based knowledge of vocal pedagogy and function. The day offers an overview of vocal jazz whether singing songs associated with the repertoire and style or becoming more creatively involved with the jazz tradition and improvisation.

What level of singer do you need to be to attend the course? Do you need a background in jazz?
The day is relevant to singers and teachers curious about jazz (coming perhaps from classical, music theatre, pop, soul). No previous background in the genre is needed. The event will also interest jazz singers and teachers who want to understand more about the voice, and how its management impacts microphone technique, style and improvisation. We welcome questions and participation. You’ll gain valuable information and strategies for jazz singing and teaching, try them out, and see their application in the master class.

Can you give me a brief run down on who will be teaching on the day?
Jazz singer, composer and teacher, Louise Gibbs will set up the day with an overview of the expressive styles and vocal setups associated with jazz singers as diverse as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Norma Winstone, Gretchen Parlato, and Esperanza Spalding. www.louisegibbs.co.uk

Renowned pianist-singer, educator, composer, and director of the London Vocal Project ensemble, Pete Churchill, will immerse us in the music, focusing on the most distinctive aspect of jazz, which are its rhythms and rhythmic vocalisations. www.petechurchill.co.uk

Line Hilton, singer, voice teacher and rehabilitation specialist, will deal with how to manage register transitions between ‘chest’ and ‘head’ voice, CT and TA set ups, thick and thin vocal folds. This is a critical aspect of vocal technique for singers from other genres wanting a more jazz tone, as it is for jazz singers in search of their own distinctive sound and vocal reliability when improvising. www.linehilton.com

Singer-guitarist and Brit-School singing coach, Anton Browne, will demonstrate how the microphone and associated electronic technology is the singer’s second instrument, changing the very way we sing. He’ll offer practical advice on how to manage technology to enhance our basic sound and explore its creative possibilities in jazz and pop. www.thesingthing.com

Jazz singer and teacher, Sara Colman, and vocal rehabilitation coach and teacher, Sarah Wright-Owens, offer a collaborative session, sharing the valuable insights gained from teaching each other, exchanging knowledge and expertise from jazz improvisation and musicianship to vocal anatomy and function, jazz tone and classical tone, vocal inefficiency, pedagogical strategies and problem solving. Their session will concentrate specifically on learning how to improvise. www.saracolman.com and www.singertrain.com

A master class involving all contributors will close the day. We have one place left if you would like to volunteer yourself or your student (contact louise@jazzmine.co.uk). We promise we’ll be constructive and gentle. 

What are the common misconceptions about jazz singing and improvisation?
That jazz singing is mysterious and difficult. Also, that it is unlike any other kind of singing. The same goes for the myths about improvisation (That you’re born able to improvise; that if you can’t do it now you’ll never learn; that improvising can’t be learnt, and it certainly can’t be taught; that it’s a special talent; something other-worldly and if you can’t get yourself naturally into a special state it won’t happen; that if I’m not a natural expert improviser already then I’ll never be; that I’m not a good enough improviser already; that I need to learn jazz so I can improvise; that I need to scat to be a jazz vocal improviser).

Need we go on…? The purpose of Finding Your Inner Jazz is to challenge and to dispel these misconceptions.

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provisional programme

09:15 - 10:00

10:00 – 10:05

10:05 – 11:00
Session 1: Louise Gibbs:
Jazz styles and signature voices

11:00 – 11:45
Session 2: Pete Churchill
Rhythm musicianship for jazz voice

11:45 – 12:30
Session 3: Line Hilton
Vocal qualities and register transitions in jazz

12:30 - 13:30

13:30 – 14:15
Session 4: Anton Browne
Microphone technique and technology: jazz to pop

14:15 – 15:00
Session 5: Sara Colman & Sarah Wright-Owens
Jazz vocal improvisation and pedagogy

15:00 – 15:30

15:30 – 16:30
Session 6: Whole faculty

16:30 – 16:45
Final Q&A

Final Summary


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Prices include refreshments and lunch

  • Early bird rates (until 23/08/19)
    Members: £85, Non-members: £115, Students (FT): £55**
  • Standard rates (after 23/08/19)
    Members: £100, Non-members: £130, Students (FT): £65*

* Student rate (FT) available to those in full-time eduction.


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