Teacher Feature: Jess on Singing and Finding Your Voice

“The greatest reward for me is watching my students perform and be confident on stage. Seeing them truly shine is what sparks the joy of teaching in me.”

Teaching Philosophy: Encouraging vulnerability and getting students to find their own voice rather than imitating someone else’s.

Instrument: Voice, Piano, Guitar and sometimes Ukulele. 

Discography: Stay tuned for her EP, written in a singer-songwriter style. She also sings backup for KC Roberts and the Live Revolution , Amaal and Coldjack.

Start in music: Since a very young age, Jess has been in choirs and music has always been a huge role in her life. (Except when she quit in Gr. 11 because she thought it couldn’t be a career, but turns out there are many ways to work in music!)

Music inspiration: Joni Mitchell’s lyrics, Fatai’s incredible voice and Rachelle Ferrel’s playful, quirky songs with impeccable placement.

Favourite thing about Beyond the Beat: The student showcase’s where everyone can come together like a family.

Favourite moments of teaching: Watching her students perform and performing with them. The first time she watched a student perform on stage, she bawled her eyes out.

Listen to Jess’ cover of Dreams and Sweet Child of Mine! You find Jess on Instagram and our Beyond the Beat YouTube channel.

What is your teaching style like?

“A lot of students that come in aren’t confident in their voice yet. Some of them might be scared to sing in general. The first step for me is growing that personal relationship with them and letting them be vulnerable.

When I sing for my students, I try to inspire them so that they can sing with the same conviction. Then, I turn on the karaoke and get them to perform. For me, the most gratifying part about singing is when I can spark an emotion in someone else. The best part about teaching is seeing my students go on stage and do the same.“

What are some tips for a beginner starting out in vocal training?

”The starting point is always breathing. The way you breathe naturally and the way you breathe for singing is similar in ways yet amazingly different. In order to complete vocal techniques and reach your singing goals, you’ll need to learn breath support.

Next, the biggest challenge I found for students is trying to sing like other people rather than themselves. If you want to change the placement, add head voice or texture to a part of a song that’s fine. But changing your voice completely for the whole song is challenging and can be unhealthy. I start by reminding them, your singing voice and talking voice are the same. I want them to understand they should sing like themselves, not anyone else.”

What did you wish you knew sooner about music?

“If I could go back in time, my biggest advice to myself is to be open-minded. The second you say ‘I don’t like this’, you close off a whole door and realm to different things.

In Grade 11, I quit all things music because I thought that music couldn’t be a job. A teacher told me I couldn’t make money off of music and I believed her. I thought I should go into social work, and that’s what I’d tell my family whenever they would ask.

But my aunt saw something in me and encouraged me to at least book a tour of the music program at Humber College. When I spoke to people there, they made me realize there’s so much more to music. You can teach, you can produce, you can do engineering, arranging, composition, there’s so many different sides to music. When I came back I immediately booked my audition for the 1 year intro program, made it and before even completing the certificate I auditioned for and made the degree program.

I learned so many genres that I never knew existed. I met my husband through my music degree, and now we have a daughter that loves music. My biggest advice is to be open-minded so you can discover what you love.”

Besides teaching at Beyond the Beat, Jess is also our manager who can give you all the latest information on classes at info@beyondthebeat.ca!