If you walk along St James St, you might notice the small poster on a board in Rebecca Chambers’ front garden. It advertises her professional services as a vocal coach.
Keri Jones from ThisIsAlfred discovered that, from this quiet street, Rebecca coaches vocalists from Shaftesbury, The States and Australia. And Rebecca recently helped a man pop the question with a pop song proposal.
Rebecca has been entertaining audiences in Shaftesbury area venues for years. She’s so well established, Mrs Jobling has decided not to use her married name when performing or coaching. “Chambers is my maiden name. I chose to keep it as my stage name, as I have been known as Rebecca Chambers for almost twenty years locally,” she explained.
Rebecca’s passion is for jazz and she has performed a number of gigs around our region this summer. But she can easily adapt to any musical genre thanks to years of studying pop performances.
“I’ve been singing in my bedroom since I was about eleven years of age,” she said. “My mother said to me ‘all you ever did was sing all the time’. I would work on trying to mimic my favourite singers of that time. And I got really good at it. Who knows, if I hadn’t done that, I may not be doing what I am doing now.”
And at this very minute, Rebecca could be online, coaching an up-and-coming performer on the other side of the world. She uses Skype to help overseas singers from her Shaftesbury home. “I was asked if I could do some coaching for somebody over in Australia. So I’m willing to get up at all hours of the day to coach people around the world, if need be,” said Rebecca.
Rebecca was keen to stress her specific job title. She’s a vocal coach. She’s not a singing teacher. “I don’t have any formal qualifications as a singing teacher. I have twenty years gigging experience as a singer. The teaching is there and I have had a lot of experience in directing young people.”
The coaching element of Rebecca’s work is very important for anyone who wants to succeed on stage. A technically perfect singer may be able to hit every note with ease, but he or she will need to develop a good stage presence to shine on the professional circuit. And sometimes, great vocalists need to be shown how they can ‘own the stage’.
“I have quite an extensive background in theatre and I studied performing arts at college,” said Rebecca. “One of the phrases I use a lot is ‘I want you to make sure that everybody in the audience knows that you are there.’ I do a little exercise with a lot of my clients where I ask them to start singing a song. Then I get them to sing as if they are trying to get a baby to sleep. They’ll change their style of singing. Then, I ask them to sing a verse as if the love of their life has just walked in the room and they are trying to win them over. They will sing slightly differently again. And then I ask them to sing me a verse like the guitarist is playing far too loudly. I ask them to sing things in different styles, to get a different thing out of them. And it is amazing how different it can be.”
Rebecca says those coaching sessions are almost like acting classes. The singer has to interpret her brief to convey an emotion or mood. “A lot of it is like acting. Apart from your style and your quality of voice, singing is putting on a show. It’s impressing and entertaining people.”
So, who comes to see Rebecca? Are her clients people who want to sing professionally or people who want to boost their confidence? “Both,” replied Rebecca. “I see a lot of people who would like to get out there and sing something, eventually. The majority of people I see say ‘I am not very good and I would like to improve my confidence’ or they say ‘I am not a terribly good singer.’ I would say that all of them can sing. It takes a few weeks. Some take over a year but you will see such an improvement. The place where you’ll see the improvement more than anywhere else is with their confidence.”
You can see why Rebecca is in demand. Anyone who has the skill to boost someone’s self confidence is bound to receive plenty of recommendations and referrals. And Rebecca does. Rebecca’s help has really changed the life of one Shaftesbury resident.
“I had one young man who came to see me who really struggled. There was only one song he wanted to learn. There was a section of the song that was slightly higher and the young man said ‘I’m never going to be able to get up there.’ Then one day, he just did it. He was absolutely flabbergasted that he was able to get up there. Sometimes people say that they won’t be able to get up to that note. They may not be able to get up there today but maybe in two or three weeks time they will be able to sing that part. We work on it and I give them the skills they need to get up there.”
That man had a specific reason for attending the vocal coaching sessions. “He just wanted to learn one song so he could play the guitar, sing and ask his girlfriend to marry him. He had no previous singing experience,” said Rebecca. With his confidence boosted and performance skills primed, the man serenaded his girlfriend with their special rock song, ‘My Heart I Surrender’ by the band ‘I Prevail’. He videoed the proposal and sent the video clip to Rebecca with a message of thanks. His girlfriend said yes!
Rebecca has been invited to the wedding and says her pupil has contacted her about more sessions. “He’s going to come back for more vocal coaching because he’s wants to carry on singing and perhaps start a band.”
Whether you want to hit a top note, or need help trying to ‘tie the knot’ you can contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.