A new vocal training school aims to not just teach but touch those who come to learn.
Contributed By Yeap Yixuan
Located on the third level of a rustic shophouse at Killiney Road, The Singing Loft, founded by vocal coach Sherlyn Chia, 30, was officially opened on Oct. 31. The small, cozy interior reflects the aim of the music school, which is to provide a relaxed environment for those who love to sing.
The school specializes in vocal training—not just singing, but also training for those who have to project their voices, such as lecturers and teachers. Clients are taught to project their voices in such a way that their vocal chords would not be overworked or damaged.
Chia is an accomplished and experienced vocal coach who is also a celebrated singer; her performances include the finale of the 2004 National Day Parade.
“Having been a vocal student and trainer for the last 14 years, I believe in having quality vocal training,” she explains. She began teaching out of her own home the last two years, and found her student base growing rapidly.
“It became a natural progression for me to have my own vocal training school that specializes in vocals, and to provide a variety of courses for the various genres of singing.”
Chia’s own pool of students naturally became The Singing Loft’s first cohort. “I had 40 students under me for quite a while—I taught out of where I stayed, first Bukit Gombak, then Punggol,” says Chia. “Right now at Killiney, we have 60 students, the youngest being 12 years old and the oldest, 50.”
This teacher-entrepreneur’s easy-going and caring style has been the secret of her success. Over 80 percent of her students are referrals from existing students who found her coaching beneficial. “Twenty percent found us through Google or other search engines; some stumbled upon my blog.”
Although hers is a soft approach, Chia believes strongly in standard and excellence—she employs the London College of Music syllabus at her school. All students at The Singing Loft are encouraged to take examinations, and at this point in time, “30 students are preparing for the London College of Music graded exams.”
For those looking to learn singing, The Singing Loft offers vocal lessons for various genres such as contemporary pop, classical, jazz, even musical theatre and acapella. It costs S$160 per person for four group lessons and S$320 per person for four individual lessons.
The school also offers classes in songwriting. Currently, it has seven teachers for vocals and two for songwriting.
Chia admits her greatest challenge, apart from finding a central location like Killiney—“it had to be conducive for learning and also have the ideal floor area”—is finding the right teachers for The Singing Loft.
“This is a priority for me,” she says. “Students will shine when they have the right teacher who has the right experiences, the right pedagogy, and most importantly, a teacher who believes in them, who really cares for them.” Aldrich Tjahjadi, 24, is one such teacher. “His experience and passion for music has been the most valuable asset to the school and to all the students,” says Chia.
GIVE A LITTLE LOVE
Chia wishes to share her love and passion for singing with others, not only by sharing her experiences and knowledge with her students, but also by making her school one a social enterprise model.
The Singing Loft plans to gives toward the works of CHCSA, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the needy in society. Above that, the school holds the belief is that everyone can be trained to sing if they do not already know how, and that they should enjoy learning how to sing.
The school also offers sponsorships to outstanding students to record independent albums. One such student was Brandon Lee, 22, who recently released his album My Life. Lee has been Chia’s student for a number of years.
“Currently I am teaching a few students under the sponsorship program, such as Brandon Lee and Carmen Ang. They came under my wing before I set up The Singing Loft.”
The school also gives free lessons to students from lower-income families who love to sing.
Tjahjadi tells City News that the school does not merely desire to groom stars but is committed to helping those who really want to sing. Not quite your typical music center, the atmosphere at the school encourages strong friendships to form between teachers and students.
Past and present students include Golden Horse-winning actress Li Bingbing, popular female duo By2, NUS Stardust competition winner Carmen Ang, Miss Singapore World 2010 finalist Louisa Althea and Cirque du Soleil performer Erika Chen. But to Chia, every student is precious. They come from all walks of life: some are parents, and others independent artistes seeking to improve their vocals. But all of them share one thing in common: a passion for singing.
As Chia puts it, “The Singing Loft exists to raise the standard of singing and vocals in Singapore, and we want to do it not just for the established singers, but for every person who has a dream to sing.”