Scotland Professional Development Day 2023

Past event: Sunday 5 March 2023

It’s only a larynx; Demystifying MT and CCM with Emma Trow

An exploration of contemporary vocal styles; how to understand the technical musical theatre and pop/rock vocal set ups and experiment with simple ways to achieve them in the studio. A creative and interactive guide to help open up new pathways to safe and vibrant modern singing.

Organised by Scotland Area Representative, Kathleen McKellar Ferguson

Report on the event

Edinburgh Society of Musicians was the venue for Emma Trow's workshop on 5 March. It was wonderful to have 18 singing teachers attend from all over Scotland.

Emma is currently a guest lecturer at the Leeds Conservatoire and lives in the Lake District where, as well as teaching singing, she is a devoted mum and Pilates instructor.

The first question that entered my mind was “How will Emma’s approach to teaching singing be different to mine?” I was excited to see what would unfold, and Emma certainly did not disappoint.

Emma is a veritable powerhouse of a singing teacher. Her approach to singing and teaching singing draws its inspiration from many tried and tested pedagogical sources, including Estill, Hustler and the accent method. Her understanding and perception of these various techniques give her a huge knowledge base from which to draw.

Her ability to demonstrate various technical aspects of singing and phonation was as joyful to listen to as it was to observe. She was able to articulate the difference between singing musical theatre and pop music in various ways that were succinct and easy to understand. Most singing teachers are familiar with terms like 'belt, tilt and twang' being used predominantly in the world of MT. Of course, we do all of things in classical singing too. We just describe them in a different way.

There were many discussions between the AOTOS members and their guests about the advantages and pitfalls of every technical aspect of singing and our own various approaches to it, and our likes and dislikes of various methodologies or parts thereof, and it was wonderful to be a part of so many open, honest and frank discussions.

Of course, the highlight of the workshop was witnessing Emma’s teaching in practice with three singers who volunteered their time to be our Guinea pigs for the day: Katie Fleming, Ben Crawford and Andrew Macfarlane who sang musical theatre, opera and pop, which was made ever more brilliant by Emma’s encouragement, knowledge and expertise.
“When it feels effortless it’s your best effort” is the quote I took away from the day, which pretty much sums up our time together.

We look forward to welcoming Emma back to Scotland again in the future.

Paul Keohone, AOTOS West of Scotland pod leader

We finally made it happen – an area day in Scotland with a wonderful guest speaker and singing teachers talking face to face. What a day! It was an amazing sight watching our members share ideas and thoughts about singing in these styles.
Sunday 5th March was our first in-person area day since we became an official area. The day took place at the beautiful Society of Musicians in Edinburgh. Emma Trow came to speak to us about Musical theatre and CCM and shared from her immense expertise. She answered all our questions and gave clear explanations on the styles and techniques required and certainly has opened up a new seam of learning for quite a few of us. Her easy-going style made the whole day a most enjoyable experience. She was able to both instruct and show us how to tackle these issues with our students. This talented lady gave us a day we will remember for a long time .
We had three singers for her to work with (Katie, Ben and Andrew) and all three thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. I think they all felt that their singing improved and they all felt more relaxed with the way they tackled the styles. We were immensely lucky to have the services of a young pianist Jamie Lang who is looking at a career in musical theatre directing the orchestra.

The whole day was a rip-roaring success that was due to the organisation of our wonderful leader Kathleen Coubrough. Onward and Upwards Scotland.

Fiona Shelfer, AOTOS East of Scotland pod leader