LIVIA BRASH M.Mus B.Mus
I come from a very technical background, but at the core of things,
I'm a heart-based teacher.
A few years into my teaching journey, I began to realise that with many singers, a purely technical approach has its limitations. Oftentimes technical issues are a symptom of something else deeper below the surface. My aim is for students is for them to feel supported and empowered in their journey. Singing as an art form is all about expression, communication and emotion, and to be completely open to that experience, we need to feel safe. My style is to facilitate an environment where students feel they can fully explore their voices without judgement. Whilst I often had very strict teachers myself and this was a great motivator for me, this does not align with my own teaching ethos.
I think it's important my students know why they are doing certain exercises and what the outcome of them are. Exercises are very carefully chosen and have specific functions; you will never be singing scales for the sake of singing scales.
Intention and understanding are the key to progress.
Whether you be singing to work on a specific technical issue, or for an emotional reason, I encourage students to have clarity about their intent. It really is when magic starts to happen. It also opens the student up to the opportunity of self-empowerment. I can offer tools to transform a student's singing, and show how it has the potential to have a positive impact on life, but it's up to the student to meditate on and integrate these tools. I want my students to eventually be able to trouble-shoot issues for themselves, and feel empowered in doing so.
The other thing I encourage in my singers is to embrace the feeling of singing. Oftentimes the sensations in our body are a much more accurate indicator of what is happening technically, than our ears. Singing becomes a meditation in movement. This also places emphasis on the processes of singing, not the results. When we stop listening so much to our voices, we stop with the nit-picking and self-criticism. We can adequately let go and actually let our breath work properly. It also means we know exactly what we did to achieve a certain result, and can therefore reproduce it. It also is the key to sounding like yourself. Jumping to the end and trying to manipulate a result or certain sound will likely leave you with a manufactured voice that isn't quite you. When you focus on the processes and how to work your body in the most aligned and efficient way, this is when you discover your authentic voice.
Believe it or not, I am not a natural singer. I've had many technical issues on my singing journey, a few of them being quite severe. But with a lot of study and some special teachers along the way, I was able to overcome them. I'm very thankful for these problems, because I now know varied methods to fix a wise range of issues, which has proved invaluable for teaching.
If you are after a technical perspective, whilst I have taught a very wide variety of students over the years, I tend to have a lot of intermediate and advanced contemporary singers who are looking to implement "classical technique" in my studio. These range from Diploma and Bachelor students to professionals. I do however regularly still teach beginner students (and I love it!)
I was very lucky that my deep love of music as a young child was nurtured by my family. I started Early Childhood classes at the local Conservatoire at age 3, followed by violin lessons at age 5 and piano at age 7, which I maintained into adulthood. At 15 I became a professional violinist, but after I finished school I made the decision to explore my voice. I had always sung in school choirs, and singing began to whisper to me in a way that my other instruments did not.
Fortunately for me, I was accepted in a Bachelor of Music with a major in Classical Voice at the Australian National University. This was definitely like being thrown into the deep end, as I wasn't so well-versed in singing technique, the classical repertoire, singing in another language, acting, or many of the other technical aspects unique to singing. But this immersion into voice study made me realize something very important: I had fallen in love. The more I learned about singing, the more I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to it. I fell naturally into the operatic repertoire, where I still am today. My time in Canberra lead me to join the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing and receive my Certificate 1 and 2 in Estill Voice Method, as I discovered I had a passion for teaching.
The next step of my training journey took me to Sydney, where I had scholarships to complete my Master of Music Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. This intensive degree helped me develop in leaps and bounds, and as I result I started to win national singing competitions, which allowed me to study in Europe multiple times with the best teachers and coaches in the world. I also had two wonderful years as a sponsored Young Artist with Pacific Opera.
Looking back, I feel immensely fortunate that I have been helped by so many amazing teachers and organisations, which has allowed me such a varied and thorough training background. I'm also very thankful that I have been gifted tools by these remarkable people so that I can also help others. Each experience has been a treasured piece of the puzzle and I believe it's essential to be a life-long learner.
Masters of Music Studies (Opera)- Sydney University [Joan Bonamy & Geoffrey Rothwell Scholarships)
Bachleor of Music (Classical Voice)- Australian National University
Estill Methods for Voice Training Certificate 1 and 2
Pacific Opera Young Artist
Courses and Workshops
American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz (full scholarship)
George Solti Accademia (full scholarship)
Vocal Hygiene- Dr Jonathan Liversey (facilitated through the Sydney Conservatorium)
Accent Breathing- Dr Ron Morris (facilitated through ANATS)
Music and Wellness- Berklee College of Music
Healing and the Arts- University of Florida
Understanding Alignment- Sarah Whitten (Opera Programs Berlin [OPB])
The Acoustic Landscape- Kenneth Bozeman (OPB)
Effective Acoustic Training Strategies for Treble and Non-Treble Passaggi- Kenneth Bozeman
The Voice Teacher as Fitness Trainer- Dr Claudia Friedlander (OPB)
Anatomy in Action- Dr Claudia Friedlander (OPB)
Training Spinto, Dramatic and Zwischen Voices- Dr Stephanie Weiss (OPB)
Crossover and the Classical Singer- Susan Eichhorn Young (OPB)
Training Transgender Voices- Dr Stephanie Weiss (OPB)
Training Singers with Visual Impairments- Jennie O'Brian (OPB)
Hormones and the Female Voice- Joanne Hayes Bozeman (OPB)
Post-Vocal Trauma Training- Carol Mastrodomenico (OPB)
Laban Movement- Wild Voices Theatre
Feldenkreis for Singers- Zoran Kovich
Diploma of Music Therapy- Centre of Excellence
Richard Bonynge AC CBE, Barbara Frittoli, Grace Bumbry, Roberto Frontali, Bruce Ford, Nelly Miriciou, Linda Watson, Yvonne Kenny, Bernadette Cullen.