South West Professional Development Day 2022

Past event: Sunday 20 March 2022

Crossing Genres – Bel Canto to Jazz with Helen Porter

How do you teach a jazz song effectively? Jazz is a specific genre which can be challenging for teachers who have come from a classic music background with no real experience of the jazz genre. Having trained as a classical musician herself, Helen understands only too well the journey that has to be made to adapt vocal techniques for singing jazz repertoire, as well as the stylistic elements involved.

Organised by South West Area Representative, Adrienne Hale


Review of the event

The South West Area Day with Helen Porter on Sunday 20 March was a real treat for everyone involved. Helen’s effervescent energy was infectious, and she was as knowledgeable as she was entertaining. This was a brilliant event for anyone with the slightest interest in jazz singing.

We arrived on a beautiful sunny morning to smiling faces welcoming us into the bright, open hall of the Creative Innovation Centre in Taunton. There was a warm, relaxed atmosphere all day and it really felt like a safe space for learning. Helen’s session was well structured to offer a good balance of listening-and-learning time as well as practical participation. Those who are familiar with the Estill model would recognise a lot of the work Helen did on registration and her way of dealing with topics surrounding physiology and breath.

Helen provided some really valuable tools and exercises for getting to grips with jazz rhythm and laying the foundations for improvisation and scatting. There was plenty of opportunity to experiment and feel the exercises through in our own voices. This was very welcome, having often attended similar events and wished for a chance to pause the session and give it a try. There was even time allowed for the teachers attending to sing and receive some one-to-one attention.

There were some fantastic voices in the masterclass and Helen worked beautifully with the singers to offer some practical advice for working with jazz standards. This varied from correct emphasis of beat and taking control of the timing to exploring registration choices. She really took each singer as an individual and gave them time to experiment with her instructions, embed them and just enjoy singing.

It was so lovely to be back in the room with like-minded people and experience a live event. We were so happy for a chance for things to feel somewhat ‘normal’ and personal again. Thank you to Adrienne for organising such a wonderful day, and to AOTOS for offering these fabulous opportunities to learn and connect.

Louisa Morgan and Kathryn Bringloe

South West Area Reps
South West Area Reps