For BMA vocal coach Sharon Rowntree, singing is a deeply rooted part of shaping each day she takes to task. It’s a driving creative force that’s as second nature as each beat of her heart and every breath she takes.
The native Aussie lived in Sydney until moving to Queensland on the Gold Coast four years ago to be closer to her mother and brother.
“I have always sung from a very early age,” she said. “I was always called upon to perform when my Mum had guests over. I sang in every singing group at school and performed in many of their musicals. From the time I left school. I worked regularly in theatre restaurants and tribute shows.”
Rich Musical History
She studied music as an elective in school and performed in every music event possible while pursuing her studies. At age 16 she began taking private lessons, and at age 19 landed her professional gig. She studied for three with Bob Tasman Smith, voice coach for Australian artists John Farnham and Julie Anthony. She also spent five years studying with Leigh Macrae (www.vocalmastery.com). In addition Sharon became a Level 4 teacher of the L.A. method eight years, traveling to California for study, singing camps, and teacher workshops. She also achieved musical grades 3, 4, and 5 through accreditation by the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia.
Aside from her teaching commitment as a BMA coach, Sharon is a busy mother and popular entertainer, starring in her tribute to legendary singer, Dusty Springfield, and other diva’s of the 60’s.
“I have a husband, David and two wonderful children, Jessica, 19, and Joel, 17 and our puppy, Angel, who is now seven,” she said. “I am really lucky because Jess sings and performs with me when I do my Dusty and Friends show. I teach in my Studio at home which is attached to my house so I can pop in and say hi when they get home from work, Uni (University) or School.”
Sharon took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her journey to becoming a Brett Manning Associate and the places Brett’s method has taken her as a teacher and performer.
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Q + A
SSO: How did you first hear about Brett and his programs? What was your initial response or feeling before diving in?
Sharon: I knew about Brett years ago. Don’t know why I took so long to join him. I was so impressed with Singing Success and all the programs available that before I knew it I was on a plane to Nashville and have never looked back.
Creativity + Freedom
SSO: What impact has Brett’s teaching had on you as a teacher and performer?
Sharon: Brett is so creative with his approach it has definitely freed my teaching up. You focus on the sound you can make, and you don’t get hung up on trying to sing. When you concentrate on sounding like something or someone, you just get all messed up. You use the wrong muscles and lose the feeling and soul in your sound. Brett also offers products and resources! I learn something new everyday just by going over the online lessons, such as Mastering Vibrato, Jesse Nemitz’s Top 7 Secrets of the Super-High Mix Voice…the list goes on.
SSO: What are the biggest changes in your voice that have come from training with Brett and his associates?
Sharon: I have always had a good voice, but Brett has taken me to the next level, I now have the extra power and strength throughout my range. That was not possible before. I can now tackle Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand – any of the great divas, and I’m able to control how much power I need to not only feel the song but also sound authentic.
SSO: What impact has the training had on things like your confidence, song selection, warming up, rehearsal, and discipline as a performer?
Sharon: I am a big believer in not only being able to teach my students how to do it, but to also show them how it’s done. From a song selection perspective, I merely use whatever key the original artist used; and just sing it, confident that I can hit every note, every time. I even use the warm up CD’s as a discipline to make sure that I am fully prepared each time I take the stage.
More Relaxed + More Confident
SSO: What are the biggest differences Brett’s method has made in your approach to teaching?
Sharon: I am much more relaxed and confident. I love the wealth of resources for teachers. I love watching the online lessons. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I’m not listening to either Mastering Mix or watching some of the online lessons. I have freed my mind to learn more and more, I am addicted to learning while absorbing as much information as I can. Brett’s creativity with his exercises has even rubbed off on me. I find myself now being far more creative than ever before, and much freer in my teaching. But I think the biggest change for me has been how quickly I am able to get my students singing better. I love the improvement that I can achieve in just one or two lessons, and then continue to get in each subsequent lesson. There is nothing more pleasing than knowing that they left the lesson being able to sing better than they were able to when they arrived. Even students with a good voice and good technique experience improvement. That makes my teaching incredibly rewarding. The simplicity of what drives the BMA technique makes it easy to relate it to students. They grasp what they are trying to be taught; and because of this, they make improvements. So, I am very pleased with the results my students are getting.
SSO: Do you have a favorite exercise or tip that has come from the BMA training?
Sharon: I have a favorite exercise for about two weeks. Then I revisit it and look for any alternatives that offer something more or something different. I suppose I am always challenging myself for something new, better; and, I’m constantly revisiting things I have learned to see if there is more that I can learn. I think it’s important to go back over lessons you have recorded, or review clips of the SSO lessons, and see if there is something else you can learn from it. Always reevaluate yourself and reassess your voice, with fresh eyes and ears. You will be surprised what you find.
SSO: What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges faced by beginners that your training addresses quickly and effectively?
Sharon: Hmmm…I actually love beginners. There are no bad habits to break. So I find that we get further quicker because they don’t have to “unlearn” all the bad habits that can develop. That blank canvas adapts very well to the technique, and I have several students, from 15 to 50 that have started singing for the first time and are making real progress. It is very satisfying to have people that discover singing later in life to be able to develop a voice and then get out there and start performing. They have a goal, and you help them achieve it.
SSO: What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges faced by seasoned performers that your training addresses quickly and effectively?
Sharon: As I mentioned before, breaking the cycle of bad habits is an enormous challenge. If they have sung for a while, it takes them a while to “trust” the new sound and feelings that they get. I like to record every lesson so that they can sit down and listen to how they sound, and get used to having more strength in their voice. Once they can feel “the mix” and are comfortable moving through the bridges, they start to improve by leaps and bounds.
Going For The Goals
What are you key goals as a Brett Manning Associate?
My studio goal is to help people not only improve their singing, but also enjoy singing. Singing is one of those rare jobs you can have that is fun. I also like to give my students an opportunity to perform. So I organize end of term concerts, and open mic nights to give them a chance to get out and perform in front of a passive audience. By passive, I mean an audience made up of friends and other students that share their common love of singing. This lets them perform with an encouraging audience, and conquer stage fright by being amongst friends. The students really love this. After a few performances you can really hear them becoming more relaxed with their craft.
A Student Testifies
16-year-old Kahlia Ferguson (www.vocalsuccess.com.au/students.html) is lead singer for the group Freak Morice. Sharon describes the group as a modern day version of the Partridge Family. They perform their own material. Kahlia is also a gifted songwriter.
“Late last year, after a performance with my band Freak Morice, one of the judges walked over to me and gave me Sharon’s card, telling me that she was one of the best vocal teachers in Australia, if not the best,” Kahlia said. “I had been through so many terrible vocal coaches over the years, who had taught me countless bad habits that I was desperately in need of someone to immediately undo them all before I damaged my voice permanently, so I rang her. Before I met Sharon, my voice was airy and hard to control. With my band performing 3-4 times a week, my throat was constantly feeling sore and strained at the end of every performance. Through some intense training, I can safely say that Sharon has helped me to cease bad habits, extend my pitch range, create a clearer vocal tone and learn to sing without harming my throat. After many band performances, I have had people ask me where I get my lessons. I tell them I get lessons from one of the best vocal teachers in Australia, if not the best.”
Contact Sharon Rowntree
Sharon Rowntree teaches at her home studio in Sanctuary Cove. She describes Sanctuary Cove as a private gated community on the Gold Coast of Queensland, with two golf courses, Australia’s only Arnold Palmer signature course. It offers waterfront canals and boating access. Visit her on Facebook as well as www.singing-success.com.au and www.vocalsuccess.com.au. She is on Skype as sharonrowntree. You can also phone (615) 866-1030 or (888) 269-7758 for more information on bookings.
Interested in becoming a Brett Manning Associate Vocal Coach? Contact Heather at (615)866-1030 ext. 4.