To mark our 10th anniversary, founder Line Hilton discusses the early days of BAST and reveals an exciting new development for singing teachers.
A decade ago, Line Hilton sat down with a small group of vocalists and ran through the fundamentals of singing teaching.
Unbeknownst to her, the introductory five-hour course on vocal coaching that she delivered that day was the start of something much bigger.
In fact, it would evolve into BAST, a flagship training programme and international singing teacher community.
BAST (Be A Singing Teacher) has helped hundreds of singers and vocal coaches from the UK, Australia, the US, France, South Korea, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, and New Zealand refine their knowledge and skills.
Many have gone on to teach in schools and colleges, build successful businesses, run artist development programmes or study voice at postgraduate level.
“My aim has always been to give students a good foundation so that they have the confidence and tools to pursue their own goals whatever they may be,” Line says.
How it all started
Line was working as Head of Vocals at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) when a group of students on the cusp of graduation approached her for help.
Aware of how tough it was to make a living in the music business, they wanted to earn an income between gigs by teaching singing.
“At first, I was reluctant to help because I didn’t start teaching until I had quite a few years of performing experience under my belt,” Line says.
“But they kept asking me, and I realised that they were going to do it anyway, so I decided to support them.”
Before she’d even finished teaching the first course, Line’s email was pinging with requests from other singers who wanted her help too.
“I soon realised that five hours wasn’t enough,” she says. “My next singer teacher course was six hours.
“Then it went up to ten hours. Eventually, it became the 20-hour course that we have today.”
Working alongside Line to deliver the course these days are BAST Trainers Ian Davidson, Kaya Herstad Carney and Kat Stephens.
Initially, the course was called Getting Started As A Singing Teacher. But when several vocal coaches also expressed an interest in doing the course to bolster their knowledge, Line changed the name.
Principles and aims
“I was very specific about not creating a methodology,” Line says. “Many other singing teacher training methods are based on a particular methodology, but that wasn’t the angle I wanted to take.
“I aimed to take a more holistic approach. As well as talking about anatomy, physiology and technique, I wanted to look at vocal health, teaching pedagogy and the business aspects of teaching.
“How do you get new clients? What happens if a student is sick? How can a teacher help a student with auditions? These are all things singing teachers have to figure out.
“I also wanted to make sure that, where possible, what I taught was supported by science and research. There is all this mythology when it comes to singing because we can’t see the instrument working.
“For example, when I was doing my Speech Level Singing training years ago, people used to talk about the vocal cords zipping up – that’s not how vocal cords work!
“My background is in nursing, and I also have a Masters in Performing Arts Medicine. It’s important that what I teach is based on vocal science, not urban myths.
“Thankfully, things have shifted a lot in recent years. The whole science of voice has become a lot more accepted.”
As well as continuing to deliver its flagship course, BAST will offer something new next year: the RSL Creative Industries Level 5 Extended Certificate.
Level 5 accreditation is equivalent to qualifications such as higher education diplomas or foundation degrees.
The course consists of six modules (each worth 20 UK credits).
The modules are:
- Singing Teacher Skills
- Singing Teacher Career Development
- Group and Collaborative Teaching
- Singing Teaching in Practice
- Holistic Singing Teacher
- Career Portfolio
Each module takes 11 weeks, although students can take more than one module at a time. As much of the course content is delivered online, it’s ideal for those looking for flexible learning.
“The move is a response to requests from students,” Line says.
“Over the years, so many people have asked me to deliver an accredited course that will allow them to take a deeper dive into the issues around singing teaching and help with employment in schools and other educational institutions.
“It was a huge achievement to get the course curriculum approved by an awarding body. I feel really proud and very excited about this next chapter.”
To find out more about the course, costs, and discounts available to former BAST students, register your interest here.