Autumn 2023 Conference

Mind the Gap – Effectively teaching the skills to best prepare young performers for life at tertiary level institutions

Sunday 29 October 2023
St Paul's Girls' School, London

Autumn Conference headliners (2)

Sunday 29 October
St Paul's Girls' School, London


10:30  Arrival
11:00  Welcome and EGM
11:20  Early Preparation for Drama School Auditions with Kevin Michael Cripps
12:00  Mini presentation from Louise Gibbs
12:15  Mini presentation from Jo Sear
12:30  Lunch
13:30  Singing Teaching as Artist Development with Kaya Herstad-Carney
14:30  Mini presentation from Jenevora Williams
14:45  Auditioning for Conservatoires with Nicholas Sears
15:15  Break
15:30  Masterclass with Nicholas Sears
16:30  Plenary Q&A with all speakers
17:00  Conference close

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About the sessions

Session 1: Early Preparation for Drama School Auditions – a glimpse into pre-professional training

Kevin Michael Cripps

A discussion on preparing students for Drama Conservatoire Musical Theatre Auditions: How can we, as teachers help to best prepare our students for Higher Education vocational training? What foundational skills and tools could we provide to help our students advance into professional training? This discussion will focus on student individuality, skills and ability, researching drama schools, and how to prepare students well in advance of programme auditions.

Kevin Michael Cripps

Kevin Michael Cripps joined the staff at Guildford School of Acting as Head of Singing in January of 2019. Previously, he taught on the Musical Theatre and Acting for Stage and Screen programs at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada. Kevin Michael holds an MA in the Practice of Voice and Singing from Guildford School of Acting, as well as a Dip. Mus from McEwan University. He is a vocal coach, music director, and actor, with acting credits including the role of Jud in Oklahoma for Theatre Under the Stars, Cowboy Bob in Footloose for Chemainus Theatre, the Western Canadian premier of The Light in the Piazza, and the first Canadian professional regional production of Les Miserables. Highlighted music direction credits include Titanic, Children of Eden, Nine, Amour, The Secret Garden and Peter and the Starcatcher. As a teacher, Kevin Michael draws from a range of vocal practices and pedagogies, providing a ‘multilingual’ approach to singing training and skills building.

Session 2: Singing Teaching as Artist Development

Kaya Herstad-Carney Autumn Conference 2023

This session aims to give singing teachers tools to help prepare their singers for auditions and higher education studies within popular music genres. We sill explore what is expected of the modern HE student as well as practical tools to help the singing artists achieve their goals and develop their sound from an angle of evidence based pedagogy.

Kaya Herstad-Carney

Kaya Herstad-Carney has had a varied portfolio career and is a passionate singer, songwriter, performer and a harmony/vocal fanatic, vocal arranger and producer, festival director and event producer. She is a qualified Vocal Habilitation Professional and a self-confessed vocal geek and senior lecturer with a wide range of experiences and interests on and off the stage. She has a particular love for vocal habilitation and artist development in the Contemporary Commercial field of music including musical theatre and the extreme vocal styles in rock, pop, soul and dance.

Kaya runs two online BA degree courses for WaterBear College of Music as Senior Programme Manager and is the current Director of Education for the global vocal organisation Vocology in Practice (ViP) where she heads up the programming of education there and is also a singing teacher trainer through ViP and BAST (Be A Singing Teacher). During the pandemic, she was working part time in her native Norway as head of vocals at Bårdar Academy and as Principle Lecturer of Songwriter at DIME Online and most recently before then as a passionate artist developer and senior lecturer in performance, vocals and songwriting/creative artistry at the Academy of Contemporary Music, and have also written HE module content for RSL (Rockschool) and WaterBear. She has previously taught at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and University of Chester.

Kaya is an award-winning singer/songwriter and regularly performs and writes her own material, either with “vaudeville grunge pop” outfit Science of the Lamps or for other projects; “yet another impressive outlet for her prodigious talent. She may be small but she has a big voice.” (Mighty Mojo) Solo or with her band she is particularly fond of playing festivals and has headlined many and supported numerous artists, including John Grant, Brett Anderson (Suede), Noah and the Whale, The Wombats, Lamb, The Farm and Marina & The Diamonds, as well as many performances with Sense of Sound choir including the BBC Nativity and with Seal, Bon Jovi at the Royal Variety Show and Ringo Starr at the Arena for Liverpool Capital of Culture Opening. Kaya’s original songs have been played on TV and radio and have been a part of three plays, two short films and two full feature film soundtracks for which she won a Silver Award for Best Original Soundtrack at the International Independent Film Awards in LA and was nominated for six other awards.

A versatile, creative and hard-working individual, Kaya has a genuine enthusiasm, not just for music but working with people and the arts. She is a positive, enthusiastic and energetic music industry professional with a student and person-centred approach. For more info about Kaya on her website:

Session 3: Auditioning for Conservatoires: 'Tell me what you want, what you really, really want'

Nicholas Sears

A presentation followed by Q and A.
How to help prepare your young singers for the specific demands of conservatoire auditions.
What do we look for in a candidate, What are our priorities, what to avoid, how, if, when, why!

Nicholas Sears

Nicholas Sears has been Head of the Vocal and Opera Faculty at the RCM since 2007. Having studied History at Trinity College Cambridge he pursued postgraduate vocal studies with Rudolph Piernay at the GSMD. Upon completion of his PDVT Nicholas immediately joined the BBC singers for three years before leaving to concentrate fully on solo work on the operatic and concert stage both nationally and internationally.

Nicholas ceased his singing career in 2002 to pursue a career in Artist Management, principally as a Vocal and Opera Manager at Intermusica whilst teaching singing at the RNCM as a Senior Lecturer in Vocal Studies. He has given masterclasses and seminars internationally in USA, Russia, Singapore and Europe, He sits regularly as a juror on both national and international competitions and acts as an external examiner for courses across the sector in addition to his core work at the RCM.

He lives in South London and is married to the Irish mezzo soprano Patricia Bardon.

Session 4: Masterclass with Nicholas Sears

With masterclass participants:

  • Sophie Bainbridge
  • Oliver Mollett
  • Sophia de Reyes


Session 5: Plenary Q&A with Kevin Michael Cripps, Kaya Herstad-Carney and Nicholas Sears. Chaired by Edwin Pitt Mansfield