“In the beginning was the voice. Voice is sounding breath, the audible sign of life.” Otto Jespersen's words beautifully capture the start of singing, and the essence of why we do it.
We tap into our musical community at City Academy, asking students, singing faculty and choir members to tell us, in their own words, what it is that has them breaking into song. What they all share is the power of the human voice to express the deepest of our emotions, transcending languages and borders to unite us in goosebumps.
Entrepreneur and Member of City Academy Collective Choir
I grew up in a musical family, and music has always been a constant. By the age of ten I was singing in operas and achieved Trinity Grade 7. I studied jazz saxophone and composition, at one point with René McLean, and was on track to being a professional musician, travelling from Norway to Sweden to Austria to take part in major European music festivals.
Then I moved to the UK, and my direction turned to business. I now run a tech startup for events with a long term goal to combine all my experiences to drive innovation, collaboration and high performance.
I see singing as a form of meditation really. Class is in the evening, which allows me to clear my mind after a crazy day, and it's on a Monday so it centres me for the week.
I love the freedom of singing, it is the most natural form of expression. Each voice is unique, and to explore and use it, I think is very therapeutic for the soul.
My favourite thing about being in a choir is the sense of community, and sharing that energy with the audience. It’s also about the process of working with a teacher, taking direction and learning new repertoire. It’s very creative - making the piece of music move dynamically and in counterpoint to all the other parts, while also honouring the original form and intention.
City Academy Tutor, Musical Director and Vocal Coach
I have been a ‘stage kid’ from since I can remember. I appeared on stage for the first time when I was three and never looked back. Music and theatre took over my life - singing lessons, dance classes, piano lessons. You name it, I've done it.
But it was in my early teenage years that I decided to become a Musical Director and teach. I was heavily inspired by my secondary school music teacher who just had such a great approach - so thank you very much Maeve! Creating a friendly, creative and inspirational environment is so important.
I will invest a lot of time in getting to know my fellow creatives, cast, class, choir or whatever it may be, because I thrive on collaborative work and bounce off of other people’s energy. I just love the joy singing can bring to people.
Singing and music are universal languages, if you have a song you can sing, no matter where you go in the world, you'll be loved.
Singing can be made enjoyable for all if approached in the right manner, and I believe everyone can sing, just some people slightly better than others! It is a very individualised experience and I think the power of singing is different for everybody - personally, it relieves stress and helps me forget about my troubles and worries.
Speech and Language Therapist, and Member of City Academy Singers Choir
I used to love performing but as I got older, I think a lack of confidence crept in and I no longer felt comfortable enough with the idea. Thankfully I came across the City Academy Singers and after trying a taster session with them, I was hooked again.
I love singing for so many reasons but mainly for the euphoric feeling it gives you. I find it highly stress-relieving. It is such a cathartic way to let go of the worries of everyday life - I work as a Speech and Language Therapist with children in schools, which is a very rewarding, yet challenging and demanding job.
The power of group singing is truly magical.
To sing as part of a highly supportive group of people - who are focused on the same, united goal of producing a polished performance - has given me loads of self-confidence.
Working together to tackle the challenging and beautifully complex harmonies that our choir leader, Eamonn O'Dwyer, produces for us, is amazing. After hours of practice, when we finally nail the group harmony of a song, it’s an incredible feeling and a real sense of achievement! Our voices produce a powerful, glorious sound that is a very special, exciting thing to experience.
City Academy Tutor, Performer, and Singing Consultant
When I was 15, my parents took me to see Les Miserables in London. I wasn’t particularly keen, but as soon as I heard the first two drum beats in the overture, I was overwhelmed with a huge sense of emotion that I had never felt before. The singers on stage were mesmerising, and from that day I swore that I would do all it takes to be like them.
I love being able to be a different identity for a while, and my inspiration for singing anything is to understand why the character is choosing to tell their story. To me, singing isn't about just showing off what your voice does best and hitting high notes because they make you feel good - there should be a connection between emotion and voice, a journey.
Personally, when I sing, nothing else matters, time seems to stop, and any worry or stress that I might be feeling disappears.
There is also a great sense of community that surrounds singing. As soon as you are with a group of people who share your passion, any insecurities or social phobias you have vanish - they just don’t matter anymore. Singing is medication for your soul, there are so many properties that benefit your health, and it’s the act of doing it that helps, not the standard that you're at.
Business Development / Events Manager, and City Academy Jazz & Soul Student
Well it just comes naturally, unconsciously really, like breathing. With singing you are your own transportable instrument, and entirely responsible for the sound, delivery, creativity and nuance of the tone. That's both terrifying and liberating at the same time, and somehow always surprising, allowing for experimentation and improvement.
Singing is, quite frankly, better than therapy.
And I've had both! Jazz & Soul suits my voice and range, and the genre is so expressive. It can be sultry, smoky and seductive, what's not to love? My tutor, Abdul is a brilliant communicator and his classes are full of enthusiasm, hard work, fun and dynamism.
Meeting a group of like-minded souls to release, totally switch off and forget daily pressures to mutually support, engage with and generate sound is proven to be good for your health - but it's also good for the soul. Even on the toughest of work days, I leave my classes on cloud nine.
I sung at my dad's wedding in California and he passed away ten days later - the last thing he told me was that he loved me, was proud of me and wanted me to keep singing because I love it, and he loved listening. So on holiday, listening to the ocean and watching the sun rise over the volcanoes, in pinged an email from City Academy and I signed up there and then. 4am in Hawaii, and I have not looked back.
Find out more about adult singing classes at City Academy, with a singing academy and over 15 singing courses taught at more than 40 locations in central London and in central Manchester. From classes suitable for complete beginners, through to three different choirs that give people the opportunity to perform on stage, our singing department has something for everyone.