We are delighted to introduce HND Music Performance alumnus Joanna McBride, our new vocal tutor specialising in Musical Theatre practice.

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We asked her a few questions about what students can expect from her lessons and her experiences in Musical Theatre.

Joanna, what can you tell us about the new classes you are going to be offering?

I will be doing weekly one-to-one singing lessons with an emphasis on Singing for Musical Theatre. I will also be doing group lessons, eventually, which will give singers a chance to learn the art of group singing and put their skills to use in a different environment.

In one-to-one lessons I aim to help students build confidence in their singing ability, while teaching singing techniques to ensure the voice is healthy. I have the ability to teach singers who are complete beginners as well as experienced singers who would like to take their ability to the next level, for this reason lessons will be catered to each individual students needs.

My experience and knowledge in Musical Theatre will allow me to teach a wide range of Musical Theatre content from the old classics such as ’42nd Street’, to the modern day gems such as ‘SIX the Musical’. Students will also have the opportunity to sit graded exams from the ABRSM Singing for Musical Theatre Syllabus, if this is important to them. Furthermore, for students looking to take singing to a professional level, I would be delighted to share my knowledge on other Musical Theatre subjects relevant to singers, for example- acting through song and audition technique.

As a former student at Riverside, how does it feel to have returned as a tutor?

I’m absolutely delighted to have returned to Riverside as a staff member! I’m such a fan of the way things are taught at Riverside as well as the warm friendly atmosphere here, I never want to leave! As a student I looked up to my lecturers at Riverside with so much respect, I knew while I was studying that I hoped to work there at some point so it’s fantastic that it has turned out this way! I’m also delighted to have left the HND in Music Performance with a job in a music college which has career prospects for me and will hopefully be the beginning of a lengthy career in the Music Industry.

In what ways did the Music Performance HND prepare you for going into teaching?

There were various parts of the course which prepared me, rehearsing music with other students in a band taught me about listening to other people’s ideas and not being afraid to speak up when something wasn’t working which I think are important skills I can bring to teaching. I also learned a lot from my one-to-one vocal tuition on the course which is invaluable knowledge essential to teaching others how to sing. Also, the music theory part of the course taught me all about the more complex parts of music theory that I had no previous knowledge of, which I would be delighted to share with singing students to give them a greater understanding of the music they’re singing . The time-keeping and organisational skills required to cope with the workload of the course are also skills I will take into teaching with me as well as a professional attitude.

Are there any songs you are particularly excited about introducing to students?

Of course! The first song that springs to mind is ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ from one of my all time favourite musicals ‘RENT’. It’s one of my personal favourites to sing as it’s full of sass and vocally challenging, I would be delighted to help students find their belt for a piece like this! Honestly anything from any of my favourite musicals would be a joy to teach! For example, musicals like ‘Next to Normal’, ‘RENT’, ‘Spring Awakening’, I’m particularly into some of the more modern edgy musicals. I’m also quite excited to see what ideas students will have, musical theatre is so vast that I’m sure there will be ideas that I haven’t heard myself before which will be great to research and learn more about as I’m always on the lookout for pieces I can add to my own repertoire. As a musical theatre fan I’m also aware how passionate we can be about singing the songs from the musicals we love and maybe even hope to star in one day. I’m excited to give students the opportunity to do this while helping them take their performance and vocal ability to the next level.

What skills can singers of all genres gain from learning Musical Theatre practice?

So much! One of my old singing teachers from the HND Musical Theatre course I studied previously, used to always tell us how musical theatre is generally more complex for a singer than other modern music like pop/rock, and how mastering musical theatre vocals can make other music seem easier to sing. There’s also so many genres within musical theatre that a good musical theatre vocalist will be able to master lots of different genres and understand what type of vocal quality is required for different types of music. Also, technique is everything when it comes to musical theatre and this could benefit singers from literally any genre! Putting the correct singing techniques in place ensures vocal health and stamina as well as the best possible vocal without the guesswork or worries about not quite hitting that big belt note mid song. I would highly recommend musical theatre training to singers of all genres who want a professional career as a singer.

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