Nicholas Clapton

Forthcoming Teaching "Events"

In 2018, Nicholas will again be giving masterclasses at Benslow Music ("Bel Canto, Caccini to Puccini", 2-4 March). He will return to Hungary to teach at the Vác Early Music Days (30 June- 7 July), and will be holding an International Opera Masterclass at the Amadé-Bajzáth-Pappenheim Castle in Iszkaszentgyörgy, near Székesfehérvár (provisional dates 15-22 July). During Week 1 of the Dartington International Summer School (28 July-4 August), such is the demand for his class that it is now a "double session", and limited to twenty-four students - early application is strongly advised.

His book Thoughts on Singing is available on Kindle, price £3.72 (or the equivalent in your local currency). It now has five out of five 5-star reviews!

To enquire about taking lessons, please send a message.

Nicholas also gives Group Workshops to ensembles, choirs and choral societies, amateur and professional; if interested, please contact him here.

A few ideas in my teaching:

  • What we do while we are singing is the most important thing to know, and what we cannot do.
  • What we feel while we are singing can be very helpful.
  • What we hear while we are singing is often very misleading.

Many things in singing are below the level of conscious control, so interfering with what happens automatically is often harmful. Therefore, concentrate on those things in singing with which you have a direct connection, mentally and physically, and leave the rest alone.

  • The singer has a direct, conscious connection with taking a full “singing” breath.
  • The singer has a direct, conscious connection with speaking the text.
  • The singer has no direct, conscious connection with the sound he or she makes.

Breathing isn’t difficult, but you have to remember to do it; it must be as rhythmic as the singing that follows it; once you’ve started breathing, you’ve started singing.

Think of what you’re going to do before you start, then do it; you can’t think, sing and listen at the same time.

Enjoy the physical sensation of singing, and enjoy how well you can speak the text; enjoying the sound is for the listener, whose job it is to listen, not for the singer, whose job it is to sing.

The singer makes a demand on his or her body for continuous sound; this can only be met by continuous speech which brings forth a continuous “stream” of air; if you forget to make the demand, your body will forget to respond.

Your brain sings, your mouth pronounces (and expresses meaning by talking), your body pumps air and “resonates” (in singing, your body can’t feel in the same way as it does in real life).

It’s not how many singing exercises you do that counts, it’s how well you do them.

I don’t believe in: consciously raising the soft palate, forcibly lowering the larynx, “opening the throat”, holding the ribs out, “belly breathing”, “forward placement”, “covering the sound”, “smiling brightens the tone”, “more support” … (etc.)

None of the above could I have formulated without the uniquely inspiring, patient, and insightful teaching I have been lucky enough to receive from the wonderful Diane Forlano.