Jono McNeil

Jono McNeilJono is a senior vocal lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music, featuring in the BBC3 programme The School That Rocks, where he also delivers and writes for the degree curriculum. He also works as a vocal coach for The Voice Kids, The Voice, Wedding Day Winners and Change Your Tune, airing on BBC1 and ITV.

An artist and singer in his own right, he has also performed with Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Nelly, Jamie Cullum, Lemar, George Ezra and Jocelyn Brown, to name a but a few. He has also recently released a new album, Broken Lives, available as a digital release on Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. He combines experience on stage with a deep understanding of vocal function to provide an inspirational coaching experience. He has also presented workshops and masterclasses for a variety of organisations, including the British Voice Association, the Voice Council, and Vocology in Practice, and has had a cover feature in the iSing online magazine.

He provides vocal coaching for professional singers, contemporary artists and musical theatre performers. He combines a unique complement of skills to provide a well-blended approach to maximise the possibilities of the voice. He adapts a holistic approach, with a deep focus on sustainable vocal technique, contemporary vocal styling and dynamic performance skills.

Mary Hammond

After training at the Royal Academy of Music in singing and piano, Mary Hammond had her first professional jobs on the end of Southend pier and as a Principal Boy in pantomime. She sang as a session singer with the John McCarthy singers, the Ambrosian Singers and the Nigel Brooks singers, on Friday Night is Music Night and Top of the Pops, in concerts alongside most of the major London Orchestras, and on recordings of film scores and albums including Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels and one for Paul McCartney’s Wings: “A vivid memory is George Martin coming round each microphone to see who wasn’t blending.”

She started to explore teaching just as the explosion of new musical theatre began in London with Les Miserables, and was one of the first vocal coaches. She was invited to set up the one-year postgraduate course in musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music in London: the first of its kind in a major music college. In 2012, she became their Sondheim Professor of Music, teaching integration of acting and singing. She has also worked closely with leading ENT voice specialists, speech therapists and manual therapists for more than 25 years, helping to form what is now called the British Voice Association.

She continues to work with a variety of different artists: TV personalities, West End and regional theatre performers and pop artists, both groups and individuals, including Tom Odell, Vanessa White, Kimberly Walsh, Eliza Doolittle, Coldplay, Muse (Matt Bellamy), Florence Welch, Rizzle Kicks, Guy Garvey and Alana (Nero). Counting West End shows, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, international and repertory shows, she has been vocal coach or advisor for more than a hundred shows to date.

Paul Harris

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.

He has created and continues to develop Simultaneous Learning, his highly acclaimed approach to instrumental and singing teaching which has found support all over the world. His innovative teaching techniques combine thoroughness, imagination and practicality, which are the defining qualities of his outstandingly successful work.

Janet Shell

Janet Shell is a qualified classroom teacher and was a Head of Music in Buckinghamshire for five years before retraining as a professional singer at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with William McAlpine and Laura Sarti. She won several song competitions including prizes for French song in Paris, and was the first mezzo soprano to be taken on by the Young Classical Artists Trust. Over the years she worked for Kent Opera, Opera d’Aix en Provence, Lyon Opera, both English and Welsh National Opera, Opera North and the Royal Opera House, but was best known for her oratorio and recital singing. She was the first singer ever to sing live on Classic FM.

She continues to perform and is an advocate of learning about the changing voice, particularly after she suffered vocal cord haemorrhaging which needed corrective surgery. For that reason, she is a strong advocate of likening vocal health issues to sports injuries, which do not suffer the same long-term prejudices in the continuation of a career.

She has taught singing for over 25 years in several schools and in her private practice in Hersham. She currently teaches at Reading University on the BA teacher training course, at St Paul’s Girls’ School, and at Eton College. Her interest is in helping develop independent learners and singers, giving them the confidence to use their voices technically well for whatever genre they work in.

Her passion for both education and healthy voice use led her to set up Talking Voice in 2007: she travels nationwide to deliver lectures and workshop sessions to trainee teachers on voice care and becoming a presence in the classroom, marrying her knowledge in both the teaching and singing professions. She self-published Talking Teachers (lulu publishing) in 2016 as a guide for teachers on voice use.

Christopher Goldsack

A physics graduate of Cambridge University, Christopher Goldsack studied voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and then at the Lyon Opera Studio. Awards included first prize at the 1990 Toulouse International Singing Competition, the Grand Prix Paul Derennes at the 1992 Concours de Paris, and numerous prizes for French song, including the Concours Triptyque in Paris. He has been acting Head of Voice at the London College of Music; given classes on French song at the GSMD, RCM and RAM; and been on the jury for numerous singing competitions.

He had extensive experience as a performer of opera, working for all the major British opera companies; in Lyon he sang in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges as the Grandfather Clock and Cat in a production which was then filmed and won the Fipa d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He was also much in demand as an oratorio singer; as a recital singer he had a special affinity for French song. In Lyon he appeared with the orchestra of the Opéra singing Poulenc’s cantata Le bal masqué. He performed widely with his wife, mezzo-soprano Janet Shell, with whom he toured major venues throughout South America. They were the first singers to sing live on Classic FM radio; he has also recorded a solo BBC Radio 3 recital of French songs and another of South American songs.

He teaches in several schools, has an extensive private teaching practice and directs several choirs. He enjoys creating high quality resources for singing teachers and students, and has published several anthologies of French songs with guides to style and interpretation. He is currently working on a series on anthologies of oratorio repertoire.

Paul Deegan

Paul Deegan trained as a primary school teacher at St Patrick’s Training College, and subsequently took a BA in history and archaeology at University College Dublin. During this time he also studied singing in Dublin and Salzburg, and built a reputation on the recital platform, in oratorio and in light opera.

In the early 1960s his twin interests, education and vocal studies, led to his appointment as vocal supervisor at the Education Department of State University College, Cortland, New York, where he combined teaching with further study and took a Masters in Education in 1966.  He continued his vocal studies in New York, and sang with Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton N.Y.

Back in Ireland he took his H.Dip.Ed. at Trinity College Dublin, and an LRSM in vocal teaching. While continuing to teach school (this time as headmaster of a special school for emotionally disturbed children) his reputation as a singer and voice teacher continued to grow. It was clear that something had to give, so he left the schoolroom and concentrated on performance, and teaching voice at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where he was later Head of Vocal Studies, and for many years directed opera studies and the lieder class. He is now retired, but remains busy with choral conducting, private teaching and vocal workshops, and as an adjudicator and examiner.

He has served for many years as Irish (and now Overseas) Representative on the Council of the Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS). He has also served on the Council of the European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA) and is a member of the council of Teachers Of Singing In Ireland. He is a past Chair of AOTOS, and in 2005 was made an Honorary Member of EVTA.

Kathleen McKellar Ferguson

Kathleen McKellar Ferguson, originally from Thornhill, Stirling, is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in both piano (with Lawrence Glover) and singing (with Elizabeth Izatt). After finishing her teacher training she pursued post-graduate studies in singing at the Royal College of Music in London with Marion Studholme. A Countess of Munster scholarship enabled her to continue her studies with Margaret Hyde with whom she had a long association during her professional singing career.

Her varied singing career in both opera and on the concert platform has taken her all over the world, including Gstaad, Poland, Vienna, Milan, Tokyo, Spain, Brussels and St Petersburg. In the UK she made her Wigmore Hall debut in 1991; recordings include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lily Boulanger’s Du fond de l’abîme at the Three Choirs Festival for BBC Radio 3 and Handel’s Messiah with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Huddersfield Choral Society. She has sung for the Aldeburgh Festival, Pavillion Opera, Clonter Opera, English National Opera, and Opera Forum; Les Arts Florissant under Sir William Christie; Flanders Opera under Jos van Imerseel, and Zurich Opera under Niklaus Harnoncourt. She has also made numerous broadcasts for the BBC; in 1996 she released a recording of Scottish folk songs, Echoes of Scotland, with her accompanist Peter Bailey.

She has also taught singing at the Purcell School, St Paul’s Girls’ School, Beadales and Dollar Academy. She now lives in Kippen, near Stirling, with her husband Grant and has been a vocal tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 2001.

Angela Durrant

Angela DurrantAngela is the niece of the entertainer George Formby. She watched all the great variety artists perform as she stood by the side of many stages in the 1970s watching her father sing the songs that had made George famous. Seeing that music was in her blood, she performed all through her teens and after a four-year detour to train as a sound engineer, entered the Welsh College of Music to study singing at the ripe age of 23.

After performing and surviving and auditioning for a further ten years, she decided to settle down, have a family and open a vocal studio. That’s when she really found out how little she knew, so set about learning and studying and working with students.

She has taught many hundreds of singers, and many have gone on to professional pop and acting careers in their teens or created part-time incomes from their singing. Her first love is classical but she embraced learning and performing as a contemporary singer as well and is now developing an online academy and diversifying into corporate speaking.

Joanne Edworthy

Joanne EdworthyJoanne Edworthy left the Royal Northern College of Music as a prize winner to work with Glyndebourne Festival Opera. She subsequently performed solo roles with Welsh National Opera and worked as a freelance opera singer and recitalist.

She has over 20 years of singing teaching experience; she has taught at St Paul’s Girls’ School and is currently on the music staff at Wycombe Abbey School.

She became interested in the therapeutic aspects of singing a few years ago when she became a leader for ‘Singing for the Brain’ sessions for the Alzheimer’s Society and now leads a weekly singing class for the Wycombe & Amersham branch of Parkinson’s UK as well as leading classes for the NHS and at residential courses.

An advocate of singing for all, she is a founder and director of the ‘Everyone Can Sing’ choir in High Wycombe. The sense of fun and wellbeing experienced by choir members inspired her to set up ‘My Town Choir’, an organisation that launches community choirs in different towns.

She is an international examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Peter Buckby

Peter BuckbyPeter Buckby is the regional music consultant for Trinity College London in the Midlands and North of England. In this work he delivers presentations, workshops and demonstrations, helping teachers and other music professionals to learn more about Trinity College London’s syllabi and supporting materials.

As well as this exciting work with Trinity, during his career he has worked in a variety of education settings from music-centre-based individual and group teaching and wider opportunities programmes in schools through to lectures to University students and speaking at conferences and events on the benefits of music-making to all ages.

He has a keen interest in projects that encourage students of any age to learn an instrument and take up singing! An advocate for composition and improvisation in the learning environment, both of which Trinity offer as options in their exams, he is particularly interested in how these skills can assist students in technique and confidence development, from the very start through to advanced levels.

As well as his work with Trinity College, he is the director of Innovation Music, a music school network providing vocal, instrumental and theory lessons on the Yorkshire coast. Along with management responsibilities he teaches piano, keyboard, singing and music theory and teaching pupils and has experience teaching students from a diverse range of ages and abilities. He is based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Due to unforeseen circumstances Dane Chalfin regrets that he is no longer able to join us at the Summer Conference. We apologise for any disappointment caused by this.

Teacher training

Margaret Aronson

Margaret Aronson - Teacher Training DirectorBorn in Melbourne, Australia, Margaret came to Britain to continue her vocal studies and studied at the University of Edinburgh, where she gained an MA.  She worked with Scottish Opera for eight years, and taught undergraduate, post-graduate and opera school students in the Vocal Department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

She has travelled extensively in Britain singing oratorio with many choral societies, as well as recital work and ensembles, in particular the Caledonian Trio. She has adjudicated for the Highgate Scholarship Competition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and mentored for their Classical and Contemporary Text programme, as well as for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. For several years, she has been on the mentor panel of the teacher training courses for AOTOS; she is currently AOTOS’s Training Director.

She has taught at the National Youth Choir of Scotland residential course for several years now. She has a busy private singing practice, teaches at St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh, and is a member of the British Voice Association. .

Penelope Price Jones

Penelope Price Jones was a scholarship holder at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying with Marjorie Thomas. She later worked with Thomas Hemsley and Paul Hamburger. She sang extensively with choral societies all over the country and had a longstanding recital partnership with pianist/composer Philip Martin, which included commissioned works and regular BBC broadcasts. She made regular visits to the United States where she has performed and given masterclasses at summer schools and colleges including Tanglewood, Aspen, Eastman and Syracuse. Latterly, singing abroad has included such diverse places as the opera house in Funchal, Madeira, the Catholic Cathedral in Naxos, and the concert hall in Kolkata, India. She was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1998.

Resident in Devizes, Wiltshire, she teaches at the studio in her garden, complete with green roof and lovely acoustics, which has put new enthusiasm into her private teaching, while still acting as visiting teacher at Worcester College, Oxford. Her interest in teacher training was fostered by productive years working as a voice mentor on the Certificate of Teaching run by the ABRSM. She then became Teacher Training Director for AOTOS, developing the annual teacher training course and starting to incorporate aspiring vocal teachers into the training framework. During this time she was involved with the European Voice Teachers Leonardo project, including running the European Vocal Pedagogy week in Marlborough in 2010. She is an adjudicator member of the British and International Federation of Festivals, and is an elected Deputy on their Adjudicator Council; she was Chair of AOTOS from 2014 to 2016, during which time the association celebrated its fortieth anniversary.

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