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Janet Shell - The Teacher

Janet is a highly experienced and enthusiastic teacher specialising in classical and contemporary techniques used in popular and music theatre repertoire and her students regularly excel in singing exams in both genres, however there is no pressure to take exams.

Janet in Orfeo

Giving a masterclass for members of Thames Philharmonic Choir

Janet's interest in helping people find their voice means she teaches across a wide range of ages and abilities, from beginners to highly advanced. Each voice is unique and Janet does not use any one model of teaching to achieve her results.

As an international singer, Janet has an impressive performing CV and has had to manage her voice in many high pressure situations. In 2003 Janet was operated on for a vocal cord haemorrhage (which had probably existed for many years) and this gave her an impetus to highlight vocal health in her practice and beyond.

Fully recovered and singing better than ever following the operation, Janet is keen to show that vocal cord surgery is not the end of a career, but offers an opportunity to evaluate the many tensions which can creep in to even highly trained and experienced performers.

Janet invites potential pupils to have a one-off lesson to see if they enjoy the experience and feel they can work together. Parents are encouraged to sit in and hear the process and ask questions.

All lessons are given in her garden studio in Hersham, a dedicated space with a separate entrance.

'Thanks for helping me find my voice and giving me the confidence to use it!'

'Yet again, another fabulous lesson where I learnt so much which I now can't wait to try out'

'One thing that Janet does is to give you the confidence to have a go and then suddenly you find you are singing in a way you had thought impossible!'

What happens in a lesson?

By listening and refining what each singer does Janet works to find the best outcome in a tailored and completely individual way. Drawing upon her performing and studying experience, Janet also has a keen interest in what science is revealing about vocal function and finds the alliance of science and performing instinct a fascinating marriage.

Each lesson begins with vocal exercises to help set up the voice and then moves on to applying these techniques into various songs or arias. Janet is keen that her students build up an understanding of how their voice works and how they can most effectively use it. A robust vocal technique frees up the singer to perform under any circumstance and gives them a voice for life.

Janet specialises in classical and music theatre singers and although she can use 'belt' technique, she limits its use, preferring a 'mixed belt' approach. Her approach to all singing is about 'sound production' and a simple, uncomplicated execution of voice. If you feel like you are working too hard, you probably are!

In the case of young singers, Janet is mindful of the physicality of the vocal structure and believes in a natural, pure sound which will develop over time. Indeed that is true whatever your age. Young singers need special guidance as there is a tendency to copy what they hear around them, which are usually performed on the adult larynx.

It is not a bad idea to record lessons as way of reminding oneself of the many areas covered over the duration of a session. Singers are often surprised to hear what progress they have made even over the course of an hour.

Lessons are given in 30 minute; 45 minute and 60 minutes slots and paid for at the time. There are options for 90 minute sessions too.

Janet in Orfeo

Masterclass at the Chester Choral Week