Wendy Parr asks: “Why do you sing?”
BIMM Institute Berlin, Hamburg and London were lucky enough to host a virtual Masterclass with Wendy Parr, the multi-award-winning songwriter, world-renowned holistic artist coach, vocal producer, speaker, educator, and so much more.
Wendy’s whopping 30+ years in the music industry have given her the skills and influence to be hailed by many as ‘the artists’ secret weapon’. This is down to her ability to create a culture of confidence and creativity with the individuals she works with. Her work as a holistic artist coach helps create a healthy and balanced career for artists in an industry that constantly changes.
Wendy prides herself on integrity and authenticity, leading her to work with big names such as Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, Melanie Martinez, Lynn Gunn of PVRIS, Marc E. Bassy, and many more. Wendy has also worked on award-winning compositions including Dreams on Fire from the GRAMMY Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.
The Artist’s Circle is an interactive event that Wendy founded in 2017, aiming to ‘awaken’ artists and creatives and allowing them to delve into their unique and innovative expression. The platform also provides a safe space to connect and network with their peers, creating challenging conversations, playful practices, and mindful activities with expert industry guests.
Our masterclass with Wendy Parr
After a lovely introduction by Whitney Sanchez from BIMM Institute London, Wendy introduced her own lesson – one that she “gives to all new clients before she starts working with them”.
“It’s something that I’ve developed over time. It’s become what it is now. All this is really about is staying true to yourself. We are all going to talk to each other and communicate with one another. The core of the course is about embracing the Artist’s job: to be authentic, vulnerable and to MOVE the audience.”
Wendy started by asking the group why they sing, allowing participants to explore themselves and their motives for what they do. She aimed to allow everyone to reconnect with themselves and paint a picture of what sort of artist they are. She highlighted the importance of being present and being human. This passion for wanting to help others spurred from the hatred that she began to feel for singing. She explains:
“Singing became really difficult for me. I started working as a vocalist from eight years old. I started to hate singing. My voice started to sound terrible to me. I needed to find my way back to my passion.
“Singing became a painful experience for me. I’m trying to help people not go down that road.”
“My education was teaching me that there was a ‘right’ way to do things, a right way to sing, a right way to mix, you can’t sing in falsetto and so on. Singing became a painful experience for me. I’m trying to help people not go down that road. Singing should be fun.”
Her interaction with the group continued and led to her asking what the audience wants. The group’s answers ranged from “magic” to “volume and bass”. She explained that the audience wants “to go on an emotional journey with you, the performer. No matter the artist, the crowd is always seeking an emotional connection, they seek joy and happiness”.
“We should look at our qualities and show ourselves truly onstage.”
She later highlighted the importance of being the best version of yourself: “We are very complex. We should look at our qualities and show ourselves truly onstage. People say I’m a badass. Today, I am a badass, but there were definitely years of my life that I was hiding who I truly was. I was the ‘good girl’ of my family. Now, I am comfortable with myself. If you’re goofy, be goofy – ‘cos that’s fun, onstage and online.”
She explained that your voice is an important instrument: “A guitar player would not beat their hands up and cause injury to their hands. Drinking and smoking affect your voice. Remember to enjoy yourself though; have a beer or glass of wine if you want to, but don’t overdo it. Smoking is a no-no.”
Wendy divided the class up into groups and asked them questions to get them thinking. This was a really interesting Masterclass for not only vocalists but any performers. Wendy is truly a master of artistry.
Answering student questions
Wendy had a chance to answer a few student questions. BIMM Institute London student, Val Kelly, asked:
How do you deal with invalidation from musicians and band members?
“I had this with an artist I was coaching. He was working with a band and producer, the band was there for hire, they were session musicians there to get paid, with not much interest in the music and it showed, and it showed in his confidence. You need to find players that respect who you are and support you. If it’s something that you’re hearing a lot, maybe there is some truth there.”
“Have fun with it! It’ll lead to something different.”
Eduardo Silva from BIMM Institute Manchester asked:
How do I let go of being a perfectionist?
“I think it’s a process. Letting go of perfection is letting go of how you did it before. Mess it up, change everything about it, sing it differently, change the tempo, change the melody. Sing the song differently. Have fun with it! It’ll lead to something different.”