Vocals Masterclass with Carleen Anderson

17 February, 2016

At BIMM Brighton we were thrilled to have a visit by Young Disciples and Brand New Heavies singer, Carleen Anderson, for a very special vocal technique Masterclass.

Carleen was introduced to the audience by our Head of Vocals, Heidi Berry, and immediately began discussing her background and how she got started in the industry.

Her first role was as a music teacher, before she altered her goals to concentrate on being a vocalist. Her singing style was originally ‘gospel’, but she has since made a career by focusing on a wide variety of different vocal styles, stating that “you can have a long career, with or without fame, by being versatile”. Aretha Franklin was her early inspiration, because she had a talent for performing anything: “She could sing jazz and you wouldn’t know it was her.”

Carleen’s Masterclass style is very practical, so she led the BIMM Brighton students in some vocal warm-up exercises, in order to get started. Willing students were then encouraged to approach the stage one by one for some specific coaching exercises – one student, Anne Evans, was asked to sing eight bars of something she felt comfortable in singing, followed by eight bars of something she’s currently finding difficult. Carleen helped Anne with her posture, voice projection and some breathing exercises, and asked her to sing again – the improvement could be heard by the whole room.

Carleen advised our students to record themselves when they’re practicing – either on their phones or via tape recorder – and remember what their body was doing at each specific section when they play it back. She also encouraged students to watch themselves in the mirror while they’re trying to perfect a particular sound.

At the end of the Masterclass, Carleen performed a song which was very relevant to the narrative of her own gospel roots – it told the story of going from the US southern states in the late 19th century to the UK in the 20th century, charting her family background. The performance was incredible and she had each person in the room utterly captivated by her sounds.

The BIMM Brighton audience members were duly impressed by Carleen’s astounding technical knowledge, with student Maria stating: “Her energy gives me a lot to work from. Her techniques are something I wouldn’t have thought of by myself – they gave me the belief that I can do it.”

Our Masterclass host, Heidi Berry, was also blown away by what she saw:

“This was an amazing Masterclass! Carleen gives so much love along with the technical advice. You could actually see and hear the students making progress and learning – right before your eyes!”

But we’re not the only ones impressed by what we witnessed – Carleen herself had incredible praise for our BIMM Brighton students, saying:

“What I love about BIMM in particular is that the students are so enthusiastic. I love the way they open up and expose themselves – it’s wonderful to see. It was lovely and wonderfully organised, and the students got to go through the whole vocals process, as it was intended.”

We’d like to say a huge thanks to Carleen for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit us for such a beneficial and hands-on session, and we hope we see her again soon!


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