Peter Edge on Whistle Stop Opera and Online Singing Lessons

We took some time to catch up with Your Space Music Lessons online singing teacher Peter Edge at the beginning of an exciting year, here is our Q & A below:  

We think pupils and parents would be interested to learn what other music activities you do as well as teaching.  Can you share a typical week with us?

It depends on the week to be honest, but I do a lot of practising and rehearsing.  Most days consists of practicing for 4 – 5 hours and then preparation for singing lessons in the evening.  The next production I will be doing will mean rehearsing 10am - 5.30pm every day and then doing teaching in the evening. 

What Performances have you got coming up?

My next production is working with Opera North on their Whistle Stop Opera Project.  We’re doing 32 performances of the Marriage of Figaro and I am playing the role of Figaro.  It’s only an hour long so it’s a great introduction to Opera.

Can you highlight any performances that you have done recently?

I recently played Marcello in La Boheme in full Italian with the Hampstead Garden Opera and one of the biggest highlights was making my debut at the Royal Albert Hall singing The Toreador Song in front of 3000 people.  Last year was just fantastic as I also graduated with Distinction as a Master of Music (M.Mus.) from the Royal College of Music.

How does your career work influence your teaching and vice versa?

Yes it definitely does because unlike an instrument, everyone has a different voice but also different levels of anxiety.  A lot of people won’t realise how difficult it is even just standing up there, you have nothing, it’s just you and your face and it can be really daunting.  People tense up and forget the words.  I find going on the circuit you listen to tips and tricks of the trade as well from other people but also your own experiences and you can throw that back at them. Everyone feels it so we can talk about it and provide solutions to it.

What do you enjoy about teaching online?

The benefit of online teaching is that it is mobile for everybody and you don’t waste as much time and hence the lesson quality can be in some way better because you are straight to the detail, straight to the point.  I do find that with a camera you have to keep momentum going all the way through, and because of that you have to give it constant energy.

I’m really lucky to have a great bunch of students with ‘Your Space’, they are all different and come from all parts of the world which I find very exciting.  I tell the production team I work with and they can’t quite believe it when I say yeah, I’m going to America this evening, India tomorrow, Norway and Oxford….  My students are all at different stages of musicianship and I love seeing the fire and the captivation from students as they focus in.  Singing means a lot to them.

Do you have a speciality or topic in the back of your mind when teaching?

I do focus quite a bit on anxiety even for people if they are not performing, as sometimes they get nervous singing in front of me.  It has taken one student about a year to break that mould.  It’s about reassuring them that it’s not all about being note perfect, it’s about your own interpretation; if you enjoy it, the audience will.  But it’s important to know the audience is always behind you too; they don’t want you to fail, they want you to succeed.  Focusing on your breathing, posture and stance can work wonders and can override your mind playing tricks on you.  By focusing on the words and how it makes you feel and why you are singing it will also alleviate a lot of your anxiety.  I have learned, absorbed and researched a lot in this area and live online singing lessons, in the comfort of your own homes can be the perfect environment to break it down and work on it.

What have been your online teaching highlights?

Yes, one of my students who I taught in Spain has now moved to London and is going from strength to strength singing wherever she can, even the National Anthem for a London Lions game, and another is on tour with her band.  One special student I teach has made enormous progress and worked so hard to improve her tuning dramatically.  From not being able to sing a note in tune to now being able to accurately sing a tenth interval, it’s astonishing.  It only goes to show what can be achieved.

Catch Peter in the Marriage of Figaro during February and March 2020

Find out more about Peter’s work here