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Learning to sing in Adelaide

After a conversation with a young singer over the weekend, I realised that there is so much more information I could be sharing to help the learning and emerging singers of Adelaide. Not that I know it all... I'm very much still figuring things out for myself. That being said, much of what I've already achieved could not have been achieved without the help, support, and guidance of those I've met along the way. So to anyone reading this, whether you are a teacher, student, professional or amateur, young or old, please think of the following as a starting point for further conversations.

So what am I talking about? I was very lucky when I started my undergraduate degree for two reasons. The first being that I was a little bit older, with a slightly more mature voice than my 17-18-year-old colleagues, and the other reason was Sharon. She was also a first-year "mature-aged student", whatever they mean by that, but Sharon came with years of experience in performing and creating your own opportunities. She taught me so much and made sure I knew how and where to engage in the performing community, even if I didn't feel ready. She is still a wonderful friend and mentor and part of my support team, as I hope I am of hers. My biggest advice to those on their own journey of singing is to get yourself out there. Go to as many live performances as possible, find opportunities to connect with other singers, and find opportunities to sing outside of the rehearsal room. Learn as much as you can, make friends who will come along with you for the ride, and find mentors who can point you in the right direction for you.

Performance Experience!

Classical Singer Sundays is a new event in Adelaide (they turn 1 in June). The event was started by a group of Adelaide singers and is run every two months. It is based on the Broadway Sessions model, explaining it as a "curated open mic". CSS is open to singers of all levels, whether it's your first time performing or your hundredth (or even more). The CSS team have done a wonderful job of creating a supportive space for singers to try new things, and I honestly cannot recommend them enough. Plus, it's completely free to perform! If you are worried or scared, I'd recommend grabbing a group of friends and going along to their next concert.

Recitals Australia runs an annual Lunch Hour Series from North Adelaide Baptist Church. It is free to apply to be a part of the series and a great way to get some performance experience with a very supportive audience! They now video stream every concert, which means you also get a great video recording that can be used as promotional material, or for applications.

If you are a chorister who loves singing big choral works, then The Big Sing may be for you. While it does come with a price tag, singing with a large combined choir can be an absolute blast, plus their registrations are per production, so you can hold out for the choruses you really want to sing (like Verdi Requiem or a Bach Passion).

For choristers who are looking for a long-term, regular commitment, you could always look to join one of the many community and church choirs in Adelaide, or audition for ACS2 and the Elder Conservatorium Chorale. Yes, you heard it here, it is my understanding that you can join Chorale even if you are not studying at the Elder Conservatorium.

While I am not in the loop anymore, I know that a lot of singers (myself included) owe their performing experience to the incredible amateur theatre scene we have in Adelaide. It used to be that you could search the Adelaide Theatre Guide for auditions, but with that closing down, the best place to find opportunities is to join some of the SA theatre and audition groups on Facebook. This also means you'll have to download Facebook and set up a profile. LOL

There is also always the option to put on your own concert. Adelaide is the City of Churches and there are many with decent acoustics and pianos that are happy to rent their space to young performers at a reasonable cost. This is a great way for you to perform for your friends and family, while also learning the ins and outs of organising a concert! If you decide to do this, ask for help from your friends and teachers, and don't forget to promote on Facebook (as that's where most of the classical music audience is). Other promotional tips are to get in contact with local radio stations. Radio 5mbs, Three D Radio and Radio Adelaide are great contacts and may let you come in for an interview to promote the concert. 5mbs also has an Arts Diary which you can register with to have your event promoted 4x daily.


There are two local eisteddfod societies. Adelaide Eisteddfod ( has a Vocal Division that has mostly classical sections for those 18 years and over but has started introducing a lot of contemporary sections, especially if you are under 18. The Balaklava Eisteddfod ( is held on or around the first weekend of August each year. Balaklava has fewer sections than Adelaide but is more affordable for singers to enter. Both Eisteddfods offer a great opportunity to perform rep, and to receive feedback from someone different. If the idea of entering a vocal competition is daunting, why not consider going along to watch, or even volunteering? This is another way to hear other singers, and to get rep ideas!

Learn as an Audience Member!

State Opera Masterclasses - participants of these classes are usually connected to State Opera SA in some way, but that doesn't mean you can't attend! I have books of notes from various masterclasses I have attended over the years. They are a great way to learn new technical ideas that you can try in a practice room. For those of you who already work with SOSA, these are a great way to get some feedback from people you wouldn't normally work with (you know who to email to ask to be involved). Those who don't have a relationship, go along to the masterclass and watch! Introduce yourself to the team and ask how you could get involved!

The Elder Conservatorium hosts masterclasses across various disciplines and they are usually free for Elder Conservatorium students! Go to them! Classical singers can learn a lot about their art from other disciplines. Email the heads of Jazz Voice and Music Theatre and ask if you can be added to their email list for masterclass attendance.

The Helpmann Academy also provides professional development opportunities to students and recent alumni through masterclasses, workshops, and event grants.

If you are a teacher or are interested in teaching voice, I would also strongly recommend joining ANATS (Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing). They run free workshops for members and hold a conference every two years, as well as having a multitude of online resources.

Soak up the music of Adelaide... GO SEE SHOWS

It can feel so overwhelming, but please go and see things. I once had someone tell me I should be seeing a show a week while I study, and honestly, I regret not following through with that. In attending shows, you will start to learn about compositional styles, and your aural analysis skills will improve tenfold. Plus, if you can get to vocal concerts, you can hear a variety of repertoire, vocal styles and fachs. I know that going to performances comes with a cost, and that cost can be prohibitive when you are learning and have so many other costs. Below are some cheap options that I know about, however, I'm sure there are many others around the place!

Elder Lunchtime (and Evening) Concerts - from memory, the lunchtime concerts are free for students, and incredibly cheap for anyone else wanting to attend. If you like Jazz or would like to see more Jazz, know that The Grace Emily has a Jazz open mic every Wednesday, and I'm sure there are others around Adelaide. We are so lucky here to have so much music floating around and to have some spectacular venues to perform in (Ukaria and North Adelaide Baroque Hall, I'm looking at you).

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra have a student rush ticket system where, if you have the upfront money, you can pay for registration and you can receive FREE rush tickets to symphony series concerts. They also have decent under 30 and concession rates.

Since 2017 more and more companies are offering a "$30 under 30 years" ticket deal. This is often for all but the most expensive tickets, although I have heard about students seeing State Opera performances in premium seats for $30, so it may depend on the company and performance. Personally, I have taken advantage of the State Theatre concession pricing to see some fabulous productions at a fraction of the price.

If you go to uni, your university's Student News email that is annoyingly in your inbox each week probably has some fabulous deals for cheap tickets to local shows at the bottom of it each week, or at least, Adelaide Uni often does.


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