Aureus Music Academy – Voice Lessons with Ms Andrea

As Ms Kinah has moved to Aureus’ branch at Forum in Orchard Road, I resumed voice lessons recently with a new teacher, Ms Andrea Shum!


Gotta love that cute standee (photo below) that makes it very clear that Aureus offers great voice lessons.

Ms Andrea comes with cool credentials too. As her profile from Aureus says:

Teacher Andrea is a versatile teacher with many years of experience. She has completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Middlesex University, London, UK. She is a fun and well-experienced teacher. During her studies, Andrea took parts in various competitions both in piano and voice. Andrea serves as a piano, voice and music exploration teacher in Aureus Academy.

I can certainly attest to the fact that Ms Andrea is very bubbly and fun, whilst being serious about training up my vocal techniques!

This time, I was coached in a different set of interesting drills:

  • Rolling my tongue (rrrrrrrr) or lips (bbbbbb) whilst singing up and down a basic pentatonic scale. It was interesting but really challenging on sustaining enough breath to roll whilst remembering the pitch!
  • Humming and then vocalising in a cadence (the musical line had to have form, crescendo without pushing too hard and ending nicely without running out of breath)
  • Going up and down the musical register and transiting confidently from head tone (up to high A) to more resonance in the chest tone (down to low F)
  • Training breath capacity and control by breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts (important because sometimes the musical calls for calm control before release), then hissing out a steady butter-smooth ssssss for 20 counts.

Thereafter, we went through my song of choice that day (‘How does a moment last forever?’ from Beauty and the Beast) and polishing up the emotion, pace and volume expression throughout.

What I was reminded of again was how crucial breath control and being prepared was, in delivering a song effectively. Pitch is important but usually comes easily enough for most singers. What then divides the competent from the amateurs is simply total mastery of breath control.

What does breath control entail? At the most basic level, this:

Taking in enough air through the nose whilst making the uptake as silent as possible (since no one wants to hear your noisy deep breath in a song).  For those who find it challenging to use their diaphragm I’d say imagine taking that gulp of air before you plunge into the swimming pool for a deep dive. Then releasing a steady stream of air in just the right amount, singing with breath coming from movement of the diaphragm muscle and never straining from the throat (which is a straight ticket to lasting vocal chord damage).

The moderation of air that flows through the vocal chords to resonate through the facial cavity should also be adjusted according to the various cadences of the song. For instance, for a particularly long and emotive phrase, you should be prepared to gently release a small stream of air before expanding that stream such that it allows you to exude a convincing crescendo.

I also learn that using one’s hands to “draw a line” (like throwing out a spool of thread) aids in effective regulation of expression, since one’s voice naturally mimics one’s physical movement.

In the same vein, I learnt that standing doubled over whilst singing higher notes is an effective way of stretching one’s vocal range! Apparently that posture tricks the body into thinking that those notes aren’t so high after all. Ms Andrea told me that I was able to reach some pretty high notes that way. Interesting!

All in all, I had fun training to be more controlled (whilst intentionally relaxing! Quite tough, when the mind is trying to remember all these control techniques) so that I can deliver better music through this instrument of one’s voice. After all, the human voice is the world’s first musical instrument, and one of the most versatile. Whilst timbre is in-born, good delivery requires constant practice, till it becomes second nature and looks effortless to the world! So I shall certainly be looking forward to future lessons.


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Note: Thanks Aureus Academy for sponsoring my lessons for the purpose of this review!

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