Jo Sear Popular Music Voice Teacher

MA (Hons, Dist.) Professional Voice Practice

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Welcome to Pop Up!

Rock, pop and soul music vocals have been my obsession from a young age. Yet, despite the fact that they have been around for at least 75 years, these genres of singing have been historically neglected in terms of vocal research, pedagogy and evidence-based practice. At school and college, and until well into my 30s, there were never any singing teachers available to teach me relevant technique for these styles.

I attempted lessons with several Classical teachers only to find that much Classical voice technique clashed with the authenticity of vocal sound I was searching for. This remains an issue today, with popular music singers often having to choose between voice teaching methods that don’t match their style requirements, or YouTube videos offering advice that is often dubious at the very least.

Why We Like Working with Jo

Jo is a charismatic and faultless true professional in every single way imaginable. Her huge range and ability to step into any vocal style makes her the perfect candidate for session work.

Franky Appleman
Drummer and Manager, The Soul Enforcement Bureau

Jo Sear is a professional. Her range, intonation, expression, dynamics, and the way she leads the ensemble, put her in the top drawer. She is the real deal.

John Gordon
Bassist, Free Electric Band and others

Jo is what you call a consummate professional. That rare combination of theory and experience takes the risk out of booking her for any type of music related activity. Upbeat, proficient.. and above all committed.... she’s a joy to work with!!

Vaughan Rance
Grand Central, Pepper Show and others

Jo is absolutely my studio's "Go-to Girl" for sessions. She's reliable, professional, focused and always gives 100% and then some. The phrase "That's good enough" just isn't in her vocabulary, and she won't stop until everybody is happy with the finished performance. Hiring Jo also takes the pressure off me as a producer, as I know I can totally rely on her surpass all expectations. We once needed some backing vocals in the style The Andrews Sisters on a tune she'd never heard before. She nailed all 3 parts in under an hour. Say no more....

Colin MacLeod
Drummer and producer, Dog House Music

Jo is one of - if not the - best singers I've had the privilege of working with. A truly great voice, very committed, utterly reliable and most importantly a MUSICIAN. Jo understands the theoretical foundations of melody and harmony and has the skills to apply them in practice. I always found Jo able to communicate with band mates in a very clear and concise manner. Add all the above to her being one of the nicest people around with one of the loveliest families you could ever meet.

Paul Darkins
Guitarist, Say What? And others

Jo is a true professional. She has turned our band around. It's such a joy to work with a singer who absolutely knows her stuff and is a true musician. She is versatile, adaptive and extremely easy to get along with. Not to mention that great voice. Love your work, Jo.

Andree Baudet
Saxophonist, SEB

I experienced much frustration with the lack of research in this area when I began studying for my Masters Degree in Professional Voice Practice in 2018.

I began to ask myself: with Popular Music now arguably the dominant cultural and economic force in the UK, where are our conservatoires? Where is our research? It just seemed crazy to me that there was still no established pathway for Popular Music vocal pedagogy.

Pop-Up aims to redress this imbalance with style-relevant technique and training based on:

  • Research evidence, wherever it can be found
  • An independent approach with no ‘method bias’
  • Authentic PM vocal modelling
  • Enjoyment and comfort of PM singing and teaching as the primary objective

About Jo

Jo has been singing professionally for over 25 years. Raised on a diet of awesome rock, pop and soul music (thanks, Mum and Dad), she joined her first working band at age 21 and has been behind a microphone ever since, singing lead and backing vocals in a wide variety of rock, soul and blues bands, working as a session singer and taking part in many stage productions, including several at the London Palladium. She is currently lead singer of The Soul Enforcement Bureau, an 8-piece soul band.

Jo is a skilled session vocalist who specialises in vocal harmony arranging and multi-tracking and has also developed a reputation as a ‘super-dep’ for many professional bands due to her ability to step in and cover vocals, often at short notice.

Jo is also proud to be a Choir Director in her ‘spare’ time – her current ensemble is One Voice Community Choir, Watford, for whom she has been Musical Director for five years.

One-To-One Voice teaching

Jo prides herself on being a warm, welcoming and encouraging voice teacher who students feel fully comfortable with. She has exclusively taught rock, pop, soul and Musical Theatre technique to students for 15 years in a variety of settings – as a private teacher for all that time, singing teacher for a dance school for 6 years and a peripatetic secondary school singing teacher for Hertfordshire Music Service for 7 years.

Jo prides herself on being a warm, welcoming and encouraging voice teacher who students feel fully comfortable with

During her years of teaching, she has worked with students at every level of singing, from beginners to experienced professionals. During that time, Jo has seen hundreds of students through a variety of exam board qualifications, the vast majority of whom passed with Merit or Distinction. She is fully conversant with the following exam syllabi:

  • RSL Rockschool Vocals Grades 1 – 8
  • Trinity Rock and Pop Vocals Grades 1- 8
  • LCM Music Theatre syllabus Grade 1- 8 and DipLCM

Products and pricing can be found here along with payment options.

Voice training

Jo’s vocal training journey in Popular Music began with specialist rock and pop coaching from Stevie Vann Lange. Following this, Jo began studying Estill Voice Training, completing two full Level 1 and Level 2 courses in 2007 and 2016 under the tutelage of the RAM’s Anne-Marie Speed and Paul Farrington (www.estillvoice.com) and attending many other EVTS day courses.

These gave her the grounding in voice physiology and technique needed to pursue further study at Masters Degree level. Jo is a huge believer in the fact that learning is a continuous process that never ends. She regularly attends voice training short courses in a variety of subjects, with recent courses having included:

  • “Beyond the Major Scale”: Engaging the ear and voice in vocal exercises with Kim Chandler (Voice Study Centre)
  • ‘The integration of a science-informed approach to the application of teaching singing’ – Dr. Kari Ragan (Voice Study Centre)
  • Introduction to Voice Acoustics – Dr. David Howard and Dr. Jenevora Williams (Evolving Voice)
  • Voice Acoustics and Kinaesthetic Pedagogy – Prof. Kenneth Bozeman (Voice Study Centre)

My Philosophy and Research

‘Pop-Up’ was created for a very important reason: To promote the value of popular music voice training and elevate its educational status in the UK.

As a Popular Music singer all my life, I am a passionate (occasionally fiery) advocate of the importance of training more rock/pop teachers and conducting more contemporary voice research. Rock, pop and soul singing is no longer an ‘outlier’ in the UK music industry: it is its beating heart.

If Popular Music is the now the dominant cultural force, where are its training programmes in comparison with Classical Music?

Modern statistics show the domination of Popular Music in both streamed and purchased music charts, and the enormous value of the UK music industry as an economic export is well-recognised.

So, if Popular Music is the now the dominant cultural force, where are its training programmes in comparison with Classical Music? Where and how are PM singers getting their voice training, and how much of what is being taught is current or relevant?

As a strong promoter of the value of pop, rock and soul singing, and the need for much more research in this historically neglected area, I have spent the last three years pursuing a number of different academic studies as part of my MA in Vocal Pedagogy, including:

The latter study – my final MA dissertation project – was based on extensive literature research and was assessed by industry professionals from UK Popular Music educational institutions such as ACM, BIMM and ICMP. I completed my MA with Distinction in April 2021.

Testimonials

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Popular Music Voice Training Courses

Teacher Training

As part of my aim to raise the profile of Popular Music (PM) vocal education, I offer a number of teacher training workshops and courses based on my MA research and other research projects. These will be available in a selection of formats:

  • Pre-recorded Zoom workshops
  • Pre-recorded Zoom workshops followed by live Q&A
  • Live Zoom or in-person workshops/courses followed by Q&A

BAST webinar

Upper register voice training for male CCM singers aged 16+

BAST training offers quality education resources for the contemporary singing teacher.

Last year, I recorded this webinar for BAST members and purchasers based on my PG Cert research paper, which can be accessed here.

Researcher/Presenter

Pop-Up Vocal Webinars

Watch this space for more details on forthcoming workshops and webinars, including:

  • Popular music vocal teaching
    An introduction for Classical singing teachers. Current courses available here.

    Upcoming: How to be a Crossover Hit: A primer for teaching Popular Music singing,
    Tuesday 26th October from 6pm – 8pm British Summer Time

  • Ditching the ‘karaoke’
    How to work with live musicians and bands as a PM singer
  • Bursting the Pop Myth Bubble
    Investigating what’s true about PM singing, and what’s not
  • Studio versus Live Vocals
    What to expect when transitioning from one to the other, and how to do both well
  • Vocal health for PM singers
  • Breathing technique for PM singers

News

19 Oct 2021  •  Presenting

The Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Singer

I'm delighted and honoured to be presenting on Sat 27th November for this event! I'll be chatting with Dr Marisa Lee Naismith about the CCM landscape and doing a presentation on 'The Gigging Singer' - exploring the challenges of regularly gigging in a function / pub/club band, including vocal health tips on increasing your gig stamina and advice on band 'depping'.

1 Oct 2021  •  News

PopUp Vocal Training

The new PopUp Vocal Training Facebook page is now live! Take a look and follow us: facebook.com/josearpopup21.

5 Sep 2021  •  Upcoming Workshop

How to be a Crossover Hit: A primer for teaching Popular Music singing

Tuesday 26th October from 6pm – 8pm

25 Aug 2021  •  Presenting

British Voice Association annual conference

I presented my paper on the training of upper register for male CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music) singers aged 16 and above at the British Voice Association annual conference September 3rd – 5th.

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