I started as a precocious 4 year old singing Michael row your boat ashore in church in Kyneton, Victoria Australia. I used my loud voice to call the cows home at night for milking from an early age. I bucket fed calves, got up at 5am to get the cows with my father at the weekends and raced home every evening from school to help him. I also had piano and music theory lessons at the local convent. I was no doubt a strange little country girl, fearless, talkative and confident.
Other interesting facts:
* I got up with my dad to get the cows at 5am on weekends
Now I know as a teacher how important it is not to ‘put children in their place’. I love to encourage confidence in all my students and allow them to find their voices and ‘speak up’.
So it was cows and music until I turned 14 and then it all changed. We sold the farm and moved to Melbourne and the cows and farm were forgotten. The city was embraced, friends made and clothes bought. After that I was more conventional going to University, studying music and becoming an opera singer. I sang in the finals of the Sun Aria at 21 in the opening of the Concert Hall, now Hamer Hall I believe.
The next interesting thing I did was travel to Milano, Italia to study singing privately. Spent 2 years growing up; learning a language and cooking Italian. I learnt how to sing properly in London with David Harper and Britta Sundberg. By now it was all a little late and dreams of singing at Covent Garden went down the plughole. Fed up with no money or prospects I began teaching singing and have not looked back.
Further inspiration arrived in the late 90’s with the discovery of the Estill singing approach. Armed with so much more knowledge I began teaching for Camden Music and work at Camden School for Girls and La Sainte Union. I also co-ordinate the Saturday Music Centre for Camden which I love as its such fun being in charge!
So interesting to read about your lessons with David Harper and Britta. The same happened to me. I had been singing for years already in Holland, But after my move to London in 1999 I met David who has helped me a lot, and when he was back in Sydney, Britta would teach. Now I am back in Holland and recently started looking for a coach. And, by total coïncidence (????) I heard someone sing at a concert I sang as well and we got on well….. It appeared (afterwards) that he had worked with David in Sydney (!!!!) This guy now lives in The Hague, where I am. He studied at the Royal Conservatory to do Óld Music” Such a small world. But I am very happy to revisit David Harper’s teachings with this guy now. I am on FB, should you want to reply. LOve from Holland, Frans van Rooijen
Hi Frans, thanks so much for your comments. Very interesting. For the first time in 10 years I’ve had 4 singing lessons with David Harper at the beginning of August! Really enjoyed them and am working towards a duet concert with my mezzo friend Phillida in December. Hopefully David will play for us. Who is this guy you’re talking about? Quite some time since I’ve visited Sydney well was stuck there for 4 unexpected days 18 months ago when we had the ash cloud issue. What’s it like to live in The Hague? I’ve visited briefly on a school tour 10 years ago and I remember visiting the Art Gallery and seeing the famous Vermeer painting. Hope to hear from you. I love random connections in the world especially through music. All the best Jenny x
Thanks for answering. Indeed, it is a bit ‘random’. My musical carreer has had many downs and ups… I came to London in 1998 on invitation from a American singer. She than introduced me to David, who was so kind to give .me lessons, which I gladly accepted. Later on I also worked with Angela Hickey. Though music wise London was great for me, private life was not and I went back to The Hague in 2004. No work, no money, no relationship…. Luckily I managed to solve most of my problems, but it meant that music (as a job) has been in the background for some years. Except for the odd gig. But it also means that I haven’t had any coaching for all these years. Slowly I began to realise that I needed a coach again, but the big problem is of course: who? Than,when I met this Australian guy when we did a Faure Reuiem, I thought the sound was great and strange enough he reminded me of David Harper, which I then told the manager of our agency (otherwise one could think I made it up…). Few weeks later I heard that in fact he had worked with David in Sydney! Another coincidence was that my good friend Sara Cunnungham in Tunbridge Wells appeared to know him as well…… Small world huh? He and I are now working together and it feels good that he says the same things that David told me. B.t.w. his name is David Greco. Most of the technique comes down to honest clear vowels, open throat. In my younger years here in Holland it was all more about placement of the voice (brrrr!!). Great that you are still working with David. I wish I had been more focused when I was in London, but I think I am catching up now! 🙂 If you speak to him, please say hello from me and tell him this story. I did send an e-mail to David, but I am not sure he got it (is this e-mail address stil valid: email@example.com ?). The Hague is fine. Musically there is lots going on, as we have this Old Music departement in the Conservatoire (Koninklijk Conservatorium) which attracts all these US, UK, Aus, NZ people. Lots of young very talented singers. In a few weeks I’ll see Nelly Miricioiu,another one of David’s people, who is going to give a masterclass here in The Hague. I met her recently at the International Vocalist Contest Summer School in Den Bosch. Well, this turned out to be a somewhat long epistle. Sorry for that. Funny by the way, that you haven’t had lessons from David, almost as long as I………. Well, good thoughts from Holland. I may write you sometime about Estil, but will do so some other time. Good luck with the concert preparations. X Frans
thanks for your very newsy response. I don’t know David Greco but then I haven’t lived in Australia for 22 years! Hard to believe this is the longest time I’ve lived anywhere. I know what you mean about ‘placing the voice’ Such a ridiculously unscientific, empty term and not one I use with my students. I’ve done lots of Estill courses and am very pro it although I haven’t thrown out the baby with bath water and use everything I’ve ever learnt if I think it’ll work. And I apply that to my singing too.
What do you do if you’re not working as a singer? Do you have enough time to practise and be involved in music as you like? I’m loving teaching at the moment and have some very promising young singers although the biggest problem is getting them to commit and practice enough. I much prefer to teach using classical repertoire cause that’s what I love but find I need to use a wide range of repertoire to connect and inspire. The trouble is I don’t habitually listen to ‘pop’ repertoire so rely on my students to educate me.
Went to a wonderful concert last night at The Festival Hall on The Southbank with Claudio Abbado conducting Bruckner’s 8th Symphony.
What’s the music scene like in The Hague?
Our concert is now on December 15th and so the practice begins and hopefully soem lessons with David Harper to inspire me when he’s back here from Sydney…..
Well nice chatting to you and I’ll let you know when I see David.
all the best jenny x
How was the concert on the 15th December???? Dying to know! How is David doing?