Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/What to do about my singing


I'm a 14 yer old girl and I have been singing since I was 7, I've been to numerous diffrent singing teachers but all seemed to try and change my voice to sound like some sort of Disney princess don't sing musicals, I can sing comfortably in my head, mixed and chest voice but find it difficult to alternate between chest and head, I finally settled down into a singing group lesson late last year and have been finding it very benefitial, I used to only sing quite low and in my alto range but have expanded it in a number of months to mezo-soprano.

I recently chose my gcse options and originally chose music as one of them it turned out that not enough people chose it and they are not running it for my year, it makes me feel...lost, in a way I've always had a great passion for music, I taught myself how to play the piano and started playing the guitar when I was 7-8 but unfortunately it got broken and I never started again but I absolutely love music and have been Reading and studying music theory from various websites and books For approximately two years and I write my own lyrics and songs but I feel stuck, how can I make myself. My voice. My music heard?

And is there any way to beat your nerves before a show I would say stage-fright but I can go on stage and do what I have to but I lose my confidence and my voice starts to wobble.

Thank You.

Hi Zara!

Thanks very much for getting in touch. It is a long time since I visited Lancashire - I hope it's not too cold there.

I found you email very interesting and laughed at your mention of a "Disney Princess". You raise several issues in your letter but I am delighted to see that you have obviously made a big effort to develop your vocal skills. Sorry to hear that your school didn't run the GCSE music course this year. This is a very common problem in UK schools. Have you considered the possibility of doing a music GCSE at another nearby school? It is sometimes possible but does require a great deal of commitment on the part of the school's administration to set it up. Some schools simply won't bother and in any case moving to another school for just one subject raises all sorts of issues. I only mention it because it has been done in the past.

However, it seems you are doing a lot to help yourself and that's great. It is excellent that you are spending time studying on your own and finding out about music theory. I was impressed to read that you are writing your own lyrics and songs and it really does seem that music means a great deal to you. All this work will be very valuable in the future. But as you know well, music tends to be something that involves others, whether they are also performing with you or simply being there as an audience. You can do so much on your own, but then there comes a point where you need to involve other people.

You ask me how can you make yourself, your voice and your music heard. That's a very good question but not at all easy to answer, especially as I do not know you and have no way of assessing your musical talent. So let's think of some ways forward. Have you made any home recordings of yourself singing? These days it is fairly easy to record stuff on a computer, assuming you have a microphone, a sound card and some kind of keyboard. Perhaps you could record a few well-known songs (you can often find vocal backings on the internet) and pass them around to friends for comments. Or if you think they're good enough, you could send a couple of songs to some of the local radio stations. Are there any performance opportunities at your school such as school assemblies or concerts? Perhaps you could talk someone into giving you a performance at something like that, maybe signing a well-known song and then one of your own? If you feel you are ready for performance, there may well be various clubs, societies or churches in your area that could be used for performance.

Have you thought about trying to get a few like-minded friends together to set up a small vocal group or band? Just getting together socially for a singing session could be a good start, perhaps leading to some kind of performance. Perhaps you could put an advert in the local newspaper (or the social media groups like Twitter and Facebook) to see if anyone of your age an interests would like to get together?

You final question concerns stage nerves. I think there are various ways to get over these but because this is a psychological issue rather than a musical one, I don't feel I am very qualified in this area. Actually Zara, I wouldn't worry about this too much at this stage, for it is something that you might easily grow out of as you get more confidence through performance experience. Also if you are on stage with a group I am sure that the group dynamic helps to conquer any kind of nervousness.

I've probably written enough. I hope that there is something here that you might find helpful. Feel free to get back to me if you think it might be useful.

In the meantime, let me wish you great success in your musical studies and pursuits.

Best wishes


Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Dr Colin


I can answer questions from students of "classical" composing, arranging, notation problems and music theory, writing for instruments and voice and writing music for education. I can answer questions about orchestration but I do not cover questions about pop or rock music, pop song writing or electronic music.

I taught for many years in UK up to "A" level theory and composition. I have spent many years in music education, initially (like everyone else) as a teacher. Then I moved on to advisory work (teaching teachers!) and also lectured, giving many workshops for teachers in developing music education skills and techniques. For a time I worked as a teacher-lecturer at London University's Institute of Education and eventually worked full-time as a Music Education Adviser to schools in part of London, offering advice on music education and curriculum development.


I started composing music at the age 14 (it was mostly rubbish, since you asked) and now have a large number of compositions to credit as well as many publications, especially for instrumental music and choral music. I have also written several acclaimed works for large orchestra and choir. My work has been published particularly in the UK (under different names)(notably by Boosey & Hawkes, Novello, and Schott) but also in the USA and the Netherlands.

My music for elementary players (several publications) has been performed and broadcast worldwide. I am now retired from my previous job as Music Education Adviser. These days I spend most of my time composing and arranging. I am currently working on instrumental arrangements of world national anthems for my National Anthems website and also completing a suite of very easy piano solos and duets for elementary players. For many years I have used the music program "Finale" for all my music writing activities.

International Society for Music Education; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

"The Times" Educational Supplement; "Hi-Fi News and Record Review". For several years, I used to write for many of the state music education periodicals in the US and I also wrote several influential articles on instrumental music teaching for "Music Teacher" magazine in the UK. (UK).

PhD(Hons); MA(Hons); FLCM (compositon) ARCM, LMusTCL,(music diplomas)

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