singing can be an incredibly scary experience - it’s so fraught with opportunities to make a “fool” of oneself! As children most of us sang with joyous abandon, but somewhere along the line we became less spontaneous and more self-conscious. Now, when we even think about singing in front of other people, most of us begin to hear little voices of self-doubt and fear whispering in our ears: “you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough.” There are few other life experiences that make us feel so vulnerable. And yet, I’ve discovered that most people really want to be able to sing, and that virtually everyone has a beautiful voice inside somewhere waiting to be released.
One of the great joys of leading singing workshops is that I never know in advance what is going happen! Every single one I’ve ever given has been unique, and every single one has been interesting and a great deal of fun; and they’ve all had moments that were (dare I say?) profound in one way or another. That’s why I like to say that my workshops are about much more than mere singing – they’re about taking the risk to become more fully ourselves.
We always ease into things gently, sitting in a circle and singing familiar old songs with each other. We tell our stories, we express our fears and we laugh a lot. We gradually begin to feel more comfortable and safe. We begin to realize that everyone else in the room is confronting similar terrors. We feel supported. And then it gradually starts to happen - protective shells start to fall away. And soon we begin to witness little miracles as our fellow singers confront their fears, one sound at a time. This gives each of us the courage to take risks. The emotional and physical issues that have kept us from singing as joyously as we might begin to fade. Breakthroughs happen.
I think that the ultimate goal of learning how to sing is to reach a point where we can sing in front of other people without fear – a little excitement yes, but not fear. Only then can we quiet those well-entrenched little voices in our ear and concentrate on what we’re trying convey in the song. When we get to that point, we realize that we’ve only been able to do this because we’ve developed a vocal technique for ourselves that is dependable and secure. We can stop worrying, and just sing.
So it’s natural that technical issues of vocal technique like relaxation, breath control, placement and registers arise. I’m told that I have a gift for knowing what suggestions to give people to help them. I might tell one person to relax the jaw, the soft palate or the back of the tongue; and the next person to connect with the floor. I might tell one person to sing to the back of the room; and the next person to sing to a point right in front of them. I might tell one person to close their eyes; and the next person to make eye contact with everyone. I might tell one person to think only about the words; and the next person to forget them. It varies. Sometimes the results are startling.
Singing well is a life-long pursuit. There is always more to learn. So, while my workshops don’t create the world’s best singers overnight, they do give people a foundation on which to build. And in the process, we have an amazing time together.
If you’d like to receive notice of future workshops, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Working with Jon is more than just singing. It is a journey into the joy of making music. He walks you through your fears, with compassion, humor and grace. Permission is given to sing on whatever level you bring to the workshop and you are encouraged, even escorted, towards improvement. In the course of his vocal workshops, you watch yourself and others confront fears and move through them, all the while receiving gentle support. Not a soul walks away unchanged.” - Jane Lea “Jon’s workshops have really helped me believe I can sing! It's fine to sing in the shower, but with the supportive atmosphere he creates, I'm able to risk using my voice while others are listening. I'm even able to risk making a mistake or two. I both crave and resist the intimacy of small workshops, but what brings me back is the respect Jon shows each individual, whatever their level of ability. That attitude is contagious. Then there are the "Aha!" moments, times when participants break through to new awareness. When one person suddenly finds where their voice blooms, or begins to breathe freely, we all feel it. It's exciting, and liberating.” - Dianne Kopser “I cannot recommend Jon Arterton's vocal workshops enough. Jon is a charismatic and gifted teacher, and the workshops strike the perfect balance between group learning and individual coaching. The atmosphere is one of safety and camaraderie, as Jon uses a variety of vocal exercises and educational techniques to break down the defensive walls of even the most self-conscious singers. And Jon's ability to identify each participant's unique vocal strengths and challenges is a rare gift that inspires a true metamorphosis in each singer throughout the course of the workshop. Whether a beginner or an experienced performer, no one leaves a Jon Arterton vocal workshop without feeling personally and musically enriched.” - Kristen Utt “Jon Arterton’s singing workshop was a remarkable experience. We arrived a little timid, hardly having sung aloud since grade school, except with each other or around the house. And suddenly we were singing in front of a group of people. It was sort of like diving into the pool. But the clarity of Jon’s patient and passionate instruction and the exercises we did as a group prepared us and when we 'dove in' with solo vocals, it felt remarkably natural. Finding that point where we switched from chest to head tones, and learning how to 'shift' through it was a revelation. Now even though we're not gifted with great voices, we've found a new pleasure in singing, that we've carried on with each other and in small groups wherever we go.” - Steve Rathe “I consider myself very very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the guidance and direction of a true professional whose life has been so dedicated to his craft. Most importantly for me, Jon is a "Safe Person". If you are considering an Outward Bound adventure into one of the most vulnerable and important parts of yourself, an experience where the armor falls off; you simply couldn't ask for a better guide. He brought me out of terror and made it fun. The workshop is transformational – I discovered a Freedom to sing as I have always wanted to!” - Peter Burnetter "Wow !!! I'm grateful for such an incredibly entertaining and informative workshop. I learned more in this short time than I had in the all the time and money spent in prior voice studies. The small group format is especially helpful. Since 90% of us struggle with the same vocal flaws, it is very reinforcing to see others working on the same techniques to improve the sounds of their voices. And the positive reinforcement from our peers helps to quiet the inner judge that wants to break us down!” - Dennis Byrne “My voice was rusty after years without singing and there were others in the workshop with spectacular voices. Jon's attitude and encouragement quickly did away with any self-consciousness or nervousness. He hones in on each person’s strengths and knows just how to build on them; while recognizing your stumbling blocks and working you through them without your even knowing. Every day his workshop was so much fun. Jon possesses a rare spirit and a tremendous knowledge of music, which he generously offers up to us lucky souls.” - Shoshana Silberman “I wanted to sing again! When I was a kid I was often the soloist in my church, but one Christmas Eve many years ago everything changed. (I should say that my voice changed, as I was going through puberty.) I sang like I was asked to, croaking my way through “Ave Maria”, and it was the last time I sang in public again for almost 40 years. The embarrassment of that night clung to me until I took Jon's class. His ability to help me find my "new" voice was a blessing I will always hold dear.” - Bill Docker “Jon Arterton is a born teacher. He has the ability, will, and desire to affirm and gently guide all members of the workshop as they discover their "inner Caruso," and explore their natural singing talent, individually and in a group. No embarrassment, no pressure; just a really good time learning about oneself in a very supportive context. I really enjoyed my time at the workshop. Jon also has a way of attracting really cool people to his sessions, so you will meet a very special group of people, of which you will be one!” - John B. Hall “Jon provides a warm, supportive environment for individuals to search for their 'voices'. He has the ability to demystify the process of singing, and recognize the singer, within the clay.” - Dan Yonce “For men and women alike, Jon brings out your inner Diva. He is a gentle mentor, who often wants you to succeed even more than you want for yourself. It was once said that you may have to squeak before you can sing.... working with Jon you will snort, squeak, groan and squawk, but in the end you will SING! Jon is passionate about his love of music... and it is contagious.” - Barbara Curry “Jon's workshops are an experience in courage, beauty, and the power of a positive community. I don't know what I learned from more - the individual attention I received or from witnessing other people learn. What I do know is that all of us sang more beautifully and had more courage to explore our voices at the end of the weekend. Jon has a gift of being able to say just the right thing to help a person communicate with their most beautiful voice. He addresses both the technical side of singing and the emotional experience. It was so moving to see and experience the transformation, many of us cried.” - Elizabeth Bridgewater
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