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A commitment to proper training is critical in the pursuit of your singing success. You want to learn how to sing and then keep on learning how to sing better. An ongoing commitment to learning keeps you fresh, curious, creative, and durable, as you build and nurture a loyal following and feed that growing demand from your fan base.

Coaching Is Key

When it comes to training, many singers feel the need to build a strong relationship with a vocal coach, but they’re not always sure what to look for.

A proven track record of generating positive results is certainly a strong selling point. The methodology a coach uses in their teaching is also something to take into consideration. And that intangible “gut instinct” or “vibe” can often be the very thing that creates something magical in the bond you form. Just like in the bonds you share with close friends or special family members, this relationship can be a great resource for encouragement, inspiration, and fine-tuning.

Stable Of Coaches

But a well-rounded approach using a stable of coaches that are rooted in the same methodology can also give you an additional circle of support and help you bear your richest fruits. With Brett Manning Studios you not also get a stable of gifted coaches with varied backgrounds, you also have materials available through programs such as Singing Success and Mastering Mix as a daily point of reference and resource for reinforcement.

By working with several coaches you get different perspectives on the same objectives and concerns, rooted in the principles and practices engaged in Brett’s teaching.

Know Where You’re Coming From

Each of Brett Manning’s certified associates are experienced performers with varied backgrounds and disciplines. They understand the fears and doubts that come with pursuing a career as a singer, singer-songwriter, singing musician, or live performer. They can relate to the angst and stage fright that you think has finally gone away but shows up at the most inconvenient times – as if any time is convenient.

From Hurts To Hopes

They are familiar with tackling the physical challenges faced from being on the road or the frustration that can test your nerves while spending hours in the studio learning new material that’s being reworked as soon as you’ve taken something to heart. They understand the hurt that comes with rejection and disappointments, but they also know the hope and power that comes from bouncing back and pressing on.

Leigh Nash

Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer fame is Brett Manning’s latest certified vocal coach. With 20 years as an experienced performer, this gifted artist understands shyness, as well as what it feels like to struggle from a lack of self-confidence. But Leigh also understands the power that comes from making the commitment to honor your unique gifts.

“There’s such an incredible feeling that comes even with seeing just a little difference in somebody’s voice or just seeing them opening up,” Leigh said. “To be able to encourage that and help bring that out of people everyday is a dream. I mean, think about it, with each session I get to play with an amazing instrument for an hour. To hear what the instrument can do and help someone get stronger and more confident, it’s such a privilege.”

Zuke Smith

For Zuke Smith Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, U.S.A. each relationship formed with a student is honored for its own unique set of quirks and perks, from the greenest novice to the most potentially jaded veteran.

“An experienced singer usually comes to me with a definitive plan of attack,” Zuke said. “Those students usually have years of prior lessons from various teachers, so some of our time is spent discussing other methods – successes and failures. An experienced student can usually describe in detail what it is that they think is preventing them from achieving their vocal goals. Together we determine whether that’s fact or a projection on their part.”

Shelby Rollins

Nashville-based BMA vocal coach Shelby Rollins initially approaches both the newbie and the old hand with the one overriding objective: to evaluate, diagnose, and write out or book their prescription.

“With new students that are experienced, I first need to gather their current skill set,” Shelby said. “I examine the various parts of their voice to see where the major gaps are in their learning process thus far, since most students who come to us don’t have a similar familiarity with Brett’s methodology in their past training. That is what then gives me the answers as to what to tackle first. I figure out the weaker parts, and fortify them using tips from their stronger parts. Honestly, green students will still go through a similar process as I assess their habits and instincts by breaking the voice down to its various parts and seeing what happens. Their pace may be slower, as I assume nothing of their basic understanding; but I know every student has the potential to improve, and no matter the skill level, everyone needs to address a few similar issues.”

Personal Passions + Perspectives

Both Shelby and Zuke see tremendous value in understanding where a student is coming from in terms of their personal passions and perspectives. They feel that the better you know what makes the student tick the better use you can make of their time.

“Anyone starting voice lessons for the first time is fairly green,” Zuke said. “I like to get to know them as a person and understand how they learn. I ask about their likes and dislikes in a broad range of subjects. A student who prefers math and science to art and music may appreciate facts and figures more than abstract concepts.”

Getting Started

Zuke relies a lot on her instincts and observation skills in determining where to start with a student and what order to follow in addressing areas that need attention.

“I usually work on breathing first,” she said. “That seems to be the foundation that’s missing in nearly everyone. I then do simple vocal scales to hear and determine where they have the weakest link of vocal cord coordination. I don’t have any specific order. I trust my instinct to guide the order once I hear them sing.”

Soothing Sensitive Areas

There are times when a coach senses resistance or reluctance to commit when working with a student. And let’s face it, we all have sensitive areas or sore spots that we’re not always willing to so openly engage. Brett and those he’s trained fully understand these areas of discomfort.

“When they are reluctant to address my first priority, I usually explain that the issue they want to fix first is most effectively fixed in my priority list,” Shelby said. “For instance, most students want to fix their – break. But this isn’t the end all, be all goal though. What we want to fix is the COORDINATION! All other issues are usually fixed with proper coordination. Usually students haven’t broken down or deconstructed the process in their mind enough. But that’s ok, ‘cause that’s my job!”

Building Comfort + Trust

For Zuke, who has a fair number of young students, doing a little digging is important so she can determine the source of a student’s apprehension, discomfort, or refusal to explore or engage.

“I want to find out why they are reluctant,” Zuke said. “Is it fear? Is it something another teacher told them? Are they embarrassed? First we work together on why they are reluctant and take it from there.”

Zuke feels it’s an important part of building trust and then confidence and comfort. If a student wants to work on something that may seem like a lower priority first that they’re more comfortable with, it’s not a problem.

“There’s no such thing as a low priority if it’s important to the student,” she said. “I take everything they say very seriously.”

Lifelong Learning

Leigh Nash puts the teacher-student role in perspective as she reflected what she brings to a student with her 20 years of experience as a performer.

“I’ll be a student my whole life,” she said. “Half of what I have as to offer as a coach is what you can’t teach but is learned through your own life experience. The other half is great technique that comes with Brett’s methods. Also, as a performer I can impact stylistic choices. That’s my strong suit. I can help with things like what you bring to the stage, how to present and carry yourself, even things like how to behave in business meetings. I can help you to passionately communicate what’s in a song so that you move your audience. You want to be true to the song and the story you’re telling.”

Open Your Presence

For Shelby Rollins, who has lived an artist’s life in both New York and Nashville, coaching is a bit like opening up presents under a Christmas tree only the presents are the gifts of her students and Christmas comes everyday as she gets the chance to play with her gifts as well.

“Teaching has been the best thing to happen to my own voice,” she said. “My endurance, understanding, and capacity has grown as I use my voice more and more. That has provided plenty of “aha” moments off the cuff, so to speak, as I experimented with new exercises in a moment of sudden inspiration during a lesson. I’ve had lots of revelations of the voice just by hearing unexpected things out of the voices of my students. I love that! It reminds me that my education is never ending, and it keeps things fresh!”

The More You Know

Zuke Smith sees each of her students as a deep wishful well of wonder and discovery that drives her hunger and thirst for more information, greater compassion, and deeper understanding.

“As my father always said, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know,” she said. “They have taught me that I have so much more to learn!”

Fine Tune Your Viewing

Use the forums to share your experiences with coaches and teachers and the Singing Success and Mastering Mix programs. If you haven’t purchased either program, make that investment. Check out the video clips of Brett Manning’s coaches at to use for reinforcement, and to see who you feel would be the best fit for your training and development strategy. Then, book a session in person, over the phone, or via Skype.

Leigh Nash

Grammy-nominated vocalist Leigh Nash helps singers develop their own unique voices as the newest member of the elite team of instructors at Nashville’s Brett Manning Studios. To book a session with Leigh, call (615) 866-1099, or send an email to:
[email protected] or visit

Shelby Rollins

To learn more about Brett Manning Associate and vocal coach Shelby Rollins, visit Shelby Rollins is available for vocal lessons either in-person in Nashville, over the phone, or via Skype. Please email [email protected] or call (615) 866-1099 to inquire about or schedule a lesson!

Deborah “Zuke” Smith

Zuke is a renowned music copyist, piano teacher, songwriter, vocal coach, and self-proclaimed “East coast chick,”  who credits Brett Manning’s Singing Success with not only saving her life but forever changing it for the very best it can be. In 2000 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and braved the brutal battery of tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, post chemo drug regimen and physical therapy. She believes that Brett Manning’s programs and method are absolutely essential to bringing out the full potential in any voice. Visit her website at

To book a lesson with Brett Manning or a professional Brett Manning Associate Vocal Coach, please email Keith at [email protected] or call (888)269-7758


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