Nicholas Clapton

Forthcoming Teaching "Events"

In December 2018, I will be visiting the Conservatoire in Pula, Croatia, to give a joint master-class with Dame Emma Kirkby. I am delighted that, in 2019, their 70th anniversary year, Benslow Music have again invited me to give my course "Bel Canto, Caccini to Puccini" (15-17 February). My class at Week 1 of the Dartington International Summer School (27 July-3 August) always fills up very quickly, so if interested, please apply early - it is open to all-comers, and we work on technique and interpretation from the most basic to the most advanced level. My Hungarian summer course will be in Budapest during late August (advanced students and young professionals interested in this course should send an e-mail via my contact page).

My 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.

I also give workshops to ensembles, choirs and choral societies, amateur and professional; if interested, please contact me 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.