Careers in the Music Industry - Vocal Coach
Updated: Oct 28
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to Biddy Ronelle. To say you can’t define Biddy’s career into one area would be an understatement. She is an all-round performer. From being the lead singer in Biddy and the Bullets, a radio presenter and a theatrical star, Biddy has covered a lot of ground within the music industry. However, I wanted to talk to her about her full-time job as a voice coach and how she incorporates that into her Musical theatre work. But first let me introduce you to Biddy herself…
Biddy lives with her husband and step-son in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She spent many years travelling the world taking performing jobs wherever she could before landing back in the UK. She has lived in Finland, Ireland and Egypt to name and her mother resides in Australia so she has also spent spent time out there. However, this was not the end of her travelling days, she is currently in the cast of the ‘Chicago Blues Brothers’ which has toured Hong Kong and Switzerland and starred as the lead female vocalist in ‘White Christmas’ over in Ireland. She has also performed in ‘The Greatest Show’ featuring the music from ‘The Greatest Showman’.
Despite the many years of travelling under her belt, Biddy still feels she has plenty of travel left and is looking forward to seeing more of the world as it continues to open up.
Starting from a young age, Biddy attended a Saturday Theatre School with her brother and from there went on to study a musical theatre degree where she met and worked with numerous vocal coaches. This developed her interest in vocals and how they work, using the different techniques taught to her and seeing how they can be adapted to work for others. When it comes to vocals, Biddy is a self-confessed geek and has a passion for how the vocal anatomy works, how different techniques are used and what can come out of it. She started teaching through evening and weekend theatre schools while also working on her own performances. In late 2019 she took a break and luckily landed a teaching job at a higher education performing arts college, a job which she had applied for three years prior. This was great timing as the pandemic was about to hit and she found herself with a steady job which she could do remotely.
Biddy is a trained vocal first aider as well as a vocal coach. She is able to refer clients to a doctor/specialist should the need arise. There are only a handful of vocal rehab specialists in the UK and Biddy is central to two of them. Biddy is looking to further expand her knowledge by taking a vocal anatomy course.
Throughout her experience one thing which is for sure; techniques are not a ‘one size fits all’. Biddy works with her clients to ensure that they are getting the most out of their voice and that there is nothing holding them back from reaching their full potential. She also likes to make sure that the singers she works with understand the range of their voice at different stages of development and change. Biddy herself was trained classically and will take that approach again if the performer requires it however, being a vocal coach is being able to adapt to the person's needs and seeing which techniques are best suited to what they need and are capable of doing.
Give it a Go!
One exercise Biddy did teach me was singing through a straw. If you use a plastic straw and sing through it, like you're using a kazoo, then it helps open up your lungs and builds your stamina. It can also be used for many other reasons but for me it was meant to help me breath whilst singing. For this task I enrolled my little boy, who is always up for anything. So every evening for a week we sat on mummy’s bed and sang a few songs through our straws. I can’t speak for him (I don’t think he was doing it right!) but the exercise definitely made me feel like I could sing for longer and project a little further than I knew I ever could before. I am certainly no singer but I really did enjoy doing that exercise.
An average day does not exist to anybody working within the music industry, despite which area you are in and now everything is opening back up again it seems busier than ever. This is no exception for Biddy! With teaching her course at the performing arts college three days a week it can become quite full on, especially when it depends on the year group and when auditions are taking place. However, with school out for the summer Biddy has been able to focus on her other passion, performing herself. Rehearsals have started for her next show ‘One night in Texas’, which we see live from November 2021. She is also currently rehearsing sets with her band ‘Biddy and the Bullets’.
Biddy also provides private vocal lessons through the college and Saturday schools. Private lessons can be for anyone! She has worked with people from 6-80 years, and in any genre or sector. Her favourite clients are those which have struggled and had issues in the past as she loves to give the guidance and seeing the results stem from there.
Biddy still sees a vocal rehab specialist to ensure that her own voice maintains the best condition, and she believes this is very important and more people, especially those who depend on performing as an income, should see a specialist once in a while, just to check in.
"You are unable to critique yourself, so let someone else do it for you and check your voice health at the same time."
When seeing Biddy for vocal coaching you can expect her to give advice based on the personal circumstances and history of you and your family. She will use distraction techniques if she thinks something is blocking your potential and if this is discovered she will find a way to proactively help you avoid it in future performances. She will find an alternative solution to approach a known problem, to help rectify any recurring issues, and to show you how not to be scared of your voice or the changes you will experience through life because of it. Biddy will ensure these are used to your advantage and help to expand your range instead of you feeling you are unable to perform like you used to.
If you are looking to hire a vocal coach always check out their qualifications and success rates before jumping in. You also want to find someone you can trust and who comes with good recommendations.
If you want to catch up with Biddy, ensure you follow her on all social media channels @BiddyRonelle and get your tickets for ‘One night in Texas’.
Don’t forget to stream her new song ‘D.R.I.N.K’...