BAST has reached its 11th birthday and to celebrate this milestone Line Hilton, founder of BAST, joins Alexa today on Singing Teachers Talk. Line is here to explain how BAST came about and the pros and cons of singing teacher qualifications.


  • BAST started when Line was working as the head of vocals at ACM. A group of students who were about to graduate approached her and asked to learn more about singing teaching. They realised that they probably needed to do some teaching to earn income between gigs and wanted to be able to teach safely.
  • Line originally had the goal to leave some sort of legacy to singers. She wanted it to have a bursary or funding for singers who couldn’t afford to have singing lessons.
  • Line realised that what she wanted to do would take so much funding to be able to pull off and gradually, through doing more training, concluded that the legacy she could leave would be through teaching.
  • In 2023 BAST will be offering an accredited Level 5 vocational qualification which is part of the RSL Awards. These are highly regarded in the world of music qualifications.


‘I never wanted to be a singing teacher trainer’

‘There needs to be a lot more accountability out there for singing teachers who are working with young or sick voices’

‘The reality is you could go out and start teaching without anything. It’s an unregulated sector’


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Social Media:

  • @basttraining

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Episode Transcription


Alexa Terry, Line Hilton

Alexa Terry  00:00
Welcome to Singing Teachers Talk, the podcast that brings you great interviews, insightful discussions and advice around the topic of singing and teaching singing. Now it’s over to your host for today’s episode. It’s me, Alexa Terry.

Line, a huge congratulations is in order because BAST has just reached its 10th birthday. Can you believe it?

Line Hilton  00:28
Well, I’ve actually made a mistake about that I just discovered it’s our 11th this year. Just time flies 

Alexa Terry  00:37
Just trying to preserve its age. 

Line Hilton  00:39
My brain is just so full of course at the moment, I’m not thinking properly. And I just had, I don’t know what it was, after we made the announcement. I suddenly thought I’m sure I might have said this before. So I scrolled back in last year’s videos. And there it was a video last year saying it’s our 10th birthday. So yes, we had our 11th, but we’re still making, you know, the discount offers for people, you know, who wants to help us celebrate.

Alexa Terry  01:06
But how did BAST actually come about?

Line Hilton 01:09
It came about when I was head of vocals at ACM, and I had a bunch of graduates coming to me who were about to head off into the real world and realize that they probably needed to do some teaching in order to get some income coming in, whilst they were looking for gigs and doing their songwriting and what have you. And they asked if I could just help them get a bit of an understanding of what was expected and what they should know. So that they could teach safely. And I have to be honest, I wasn’t I was a little bit reluctant on a couple of levels. One, because I never wanted to be a singing teacher trainer. That was something I used to say all the time. And the other one was that I thought, well, they really need to go out and get some work experience before they start teaching. But they kept bugging me. And I realized that actually, they were going to do it anyway. And that I’d rather that they went out with some knowledge and a few skills, you know, that could help them recognize when a voice was in trouble or what to do to help somebody get from A to B. And so that started off being like a five hour course that I threw together, when I delivered it in the lounge room of one of the students in Guildford. And as I was saying, the other day to someone, before that course ended, I’d had calls and emails asking was I going to do it again, because other people were interested. And so you know, as a business, it made sense to then go, Oh, it’s another way of generating some income, people, there’s a demand. And so I started off by just running maybe about three or four in a year, just whenever I got enough people to make it worthwhile running a course. Yeah. So that’s how it started back in 2011.

Alexa Terry 02:54
And what’s been your mission with it? And what do you want to keep trying to achieve?

Line Hilton 02:59
So I was having a conversation with someone the other day was a coaching conversation about legacies and leaving a legacy. And I’ve had this goal for a long time to leave some sort of legacy to singers. And initially, it started around the idea of being able to build a business that was doing well enough that it got enough income, that it could create maybe some sort of bursary or funding or something like that, for singers who couldn’t afford to have singing lessons or to get, you know, support or coaching or whatever. Because they, you know, just didn’t have the sort of money. And that’s when I went down the track of doing live events and doing the magazine. And then at some point, I was thinking of actually having a my head, this dream of having the singers center and the singers center would have places that singing teachers could rent to teach, there would be a recording studio in there, there’d be a cafe, there’d be live music. And then there would be sort of a big studio, you know, where you could do obviously, workshops and things like that, but also dancing or choreography, along with singing and I had this idea that I want to want to put this center in the middle of London and we’ll come up with sort of a little bit like Pineapple but for singing. And and then I sort of realized that I you know, it’s going to take so long to get the money together and the logistics of it. And yeah, just really I realized that was rather too big an ambition for for me at the time. And so I was putting on live events that was with Shedlight events and seeing lots of singers coming in doing these workshops, really enjoying the content. I’d bring in artists but also working singers talking about how to be a function singer backing vocalist, I had Sam Brown and Daniel Bedingfield came in and did master classes and then also I would bring in health people who looked after vocal health. So physios and SLTs, nutritionists. And then various teachers talking about different techniques like Alexander, as well as voice technique and things like that. And now went okay, that was going, okay. And then I’ve got this idea that, Oh, why don’t I reach the world. And I’ll put on a magazine that has all that information. And that’s how iSingmag came along. And all of this was sort of taking me in this direction of leaving a legacy of some sort. And, unfortunately, I had to stop publishing the magazine, because it just wasn’t making any money. And you know, at the end of the day, you need to be able to at least cover your costs, you know, to make it sensible, but it wasn’t going in the direction of me getting enough income that I could put into place this idea of setting up a bursary. And so I started to focus much more on BAST training. And what I realized as I started teaching and working around the world, was that I was leaving a legacy through that. And so now that’s become my focus. So ultimately, it’s really to create something for singers, that really helps them to earn an income, to have diversity, you know, because nowadays, as a singer, you can’t just be a singer, you need to do other things in order to earn income. So why not utilize all that amazing experience that you have, and put it into use to help other people and inspire other people to sing. And so my hope now is that I can do that through BAST training. So I still have this goal to set up some kind of a bursary or funding for singers. But I think probably there’s more chance of that happening through the training process than than it is through the other businesses that I put together.

Alexa Terry 06:55

And you’ve had many people come through, have you noticed there being a pattern with a topic that tends to get teachers in a bit of a hot water, if you like, with the understanding and implementation in the studio?

Line Hilton 07:11
Well, interesting enough, it’s not necessarily about the technical stuff, it’s about the confidence. And in fact, I was talking to someone just the other day, who did the course last year, but hasn’t been teaching. And she said, it’s because she just doesn’t have enough confidence. So I feel like you know, the, hopefully, we can address that by through the level five course because there’ll be a lot more time to put these things that we’re teaching into practice and to get feedback and to teach in front of someone else. And so, by the end of, you know, the course, the singing teacher will have already had quite a lot of experience teaching, before they sort of set out on their own.

Alexa Terry 07:55

Who’s come through the course. Can you chat a little bit about the alumni and what they’ve gone on to do and whereabouts in the world they are? Because it’s not just in one tiny place is it? It is quite an international thing best.

Line Hilton 08:06

Yeah. So we’ve had students from all over the world, for as far as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, we had someone who was in China, South Korea, Europe, and all over the UK, obviously, and Ireland. And in the States, Hawaii and then there was somewhere else who’s who came from one of the somewhere like the Seychelles or Mauritius. Yeah, so been, you know, people from all over the place. So 50% are probably UK based and the rest of the rest of the world. We’ve had a lot of different people coming through. So the more nerdy type people who like yourself and, and Nicole Gill, who there’s been quite a few people who’ve gone on to do the masters or to go and do the vocal health first aid or the practitioner course. Actually, I was I was looking at some of the alumni and I had totally forgotten that Josh Alamu had come through the course. Yeah, so I get people who sort of come through from all sorts of different backgrounds so total beginners as well as people who’ve already been teaching for a while but just want to bring everything together and just become more consistent across the board and fill in some gaps. Because obviously, you know, someone like Josh is amazing teacher who’s already been teaching for a long time. And then Denosh Bennett, who is backing vocalists with Robbie Williams. So you know, there’s people who are out there still working and you know, working out so quite high level, and then there’s those that went down the more academic route, and then there’s people who’ve gone up and you know, gone into set up their own studios and we’ve also had a couple of studios one from Ireland. Gemma Sugrue’s studio, where she’s now sold. All her teachers were trained through BAST. I’m currently training with Brandon Brophy in Canada with his studio. And then there’s there’s been a couple of others. So there’s quite a variety of people and situations and studios that we’ve worked with. To be honest, you know, I just sometimes I’ll be out and about and then suddenly I’ll meet somebody and then I’ll think where do I know them from and realize it is because they’ve done the course That’s so cool. And things are about to get even cranked up and on a level aren’t they? Because next year in 2023, BAST is becoming accredited or offering an accredited level five qualification. So can you explain what that actually means and what a level five is? Yeah, so this is a vocational qualification, which is part of RSL awards and RSL awards have a bunch of qualifications under the creative industry practitioners banner. So it’s about helping people who are in the creatives, creative industries, get some qualification, so utilizing their experience and then adding obviously more knowledge to give them more tools and the more of a portfolio opportunity to add something on to their potential earning will add on to their earning potential I should say. So, RSL you know, our highly regarded in the world of music qualifications, and they do all the graded exams for Rock School. And then they also offer various diplomas and also degree level type courses as well. But they really are focusing on that that sort of vocational sector of saying, Well, look, you know, you’ve been doing this job for a long time, we need to be able to acknowledge all those skills and experience that you’ve acquired, and then put it together in some format that you can then get a qualification. So they’ve developed an education or teaching pathway, as well. And that’s where we’re coming under. So level five is equivalent to second year university. It’s 120 credits. And these are recognized, you know, they’re qualifications that are recognized through the various educational boards. And it’s not that we’re stopping the 20 hour course it won’t replace it, but it’s an addition for people who want to go the more formal route. So the other day someone was asking me, so how will having this certificate or qualification helped me and I said, Well, you know, the reality is you could go out and start teaching without anything. You don’t have to, it’s an unregulated sector. But if you nowadays I’ve noticed that a lot more performing arts schools are looking for people who have some kind of qualification. And obviously, if you’ve got a singing teaching qualification, or you’re going for a teaching job, you’re probably going to have an edge to someone who doesn’t. And I know you know, for instance, you’ve recently joined Italia Conti and I know, you know, other teachers that we’ve recommended. who’ve been know it’s been an advantage for them to have at least done the course. But it might be that further down the track it’ll be even better advantage to have done a certificate of course, accredited course on you know, that’s based around singing teaching.

Alexa Terry 13:52
Do you think this is a way into the field becoming regulated?

Line Hilton 13:58
Uh, probably don’t want to talk about that.

Alexa Terry  14:01
Ok breeze over it

Line Hilton 14:02
Oh, my gosh, yeah, that’s a can of worms. That one.

Alexa Terry 14:06
Okay, cool. Worms kept inside.

Line Hilton 14:09
I don’t know whether regulated is the right word. But I do feel like there needs to be a lot more accountability out there for singing teachers who are working with, you know, young voices and or sick voices and don’t really understand and it’s really wonderful that there are so many singing teachers who are taking that accountability sort of into their own hands and going in educating themselves. There’s a lot more available now than there was when I first came out. There were sort of various pedagogy, so what to call them methodologies out there. But there wasn’t anything that really helped you understand functionally what was going on with the voice and really speak to the anatomy and physiology or the acoustics, the sciency side or to the pedagogical side, so how to I actually teach somebody who doesn’t learn things, the way that I learned things. And so that’s the other thing that this course is very strong is helping people understand the teaching and learning process, and how to apply that to individual students. And definitely, in the methodologies that I’ve encountered or being involved in, there was never any real discussion about different learning styles and teaching styles and how we go from short term memory into long term and what the process of skill acquisition is, and you know, all that sort of stuff was never really discussed. And so you might technically know exactly how to address some of these vocal issues, but you might not be able to communicate with them in the best way. Because you don’t understand that actually, that person, you know, has some sort of learning challenges, and can’t, doesn’t like being looked in the eye and, you know, doesn’t want to be questioned or doesn’t want you to talk at them so much. Or maybe they need things to be written down or visual, rather than auditory. And so that’s something that’s really been missing, I think, in the past. And, and also the vocal health aspect, we didn’t really learn about that. Not to, we didn’t really learn how to recognize when there was a problem, all the different kinds of things that could go wrong with the voice, whether that was acquired or, you know, something that was just behavioral. And so, you know, it’s been quite, quite interesting to discover really, that there’s nothing like this out there. I don’t really understand why, because to me, it’s just like, common sense. But yeah, so I don’t know if I answered your question, Alexa, because I’ve waffled on so much, I forgotten what it was.

Alexa Terry 16:59
It’s all good. Who is this course going to be for? Who is it aimed at?

Line Hilton 17:03
It’s aimed at singers who want to become great singing teachers who want to be accountable for understanding how to take a good history, how to assess the voice, how to care for the voice, how to care for the psychology of that person in front of them, not that you become a psychologist or counselor. But you know, there are some aspects, there’s a lot of aspects of singing that are to do with the mindset. People who want to because one of the units is actually how to teach in a group setting. So if you want to do classroom teaching, workshops, or collaborative work, and also is for people who are not quite sure what direction they want their career to take in, and so they get the opportunity to explore what are the possibilities for a singer and singing teacher and what might be, you know, work for them. And then also people who want to understand better how to build a successful business. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great you are, as a teacher, if nobody’s hears about you, or knows about you, then they’re not going to come and you’re not going to earn any income. So it’s for anybody really, who’s had several years of singing experience, they may have already had some other kind of qualification. It’s not for a total beginner singer, it’s not for somebody who hasn’t performed before, you know, we want people who’ve had experience performing and singing. It’s, it’s also for people who want to fill in gaps. Maybe they’ve got really good knowledge in one area, but they don’t know how to teach in the classroom setting. Or maybe they understand certain principles about teaching voice, but there’s a lot of gaps there that they need filling in. And so a lot of the units will help do that.

Alexa Terry 18:53
And do you still cover things like anatomy and all the technical bits as well?

Line Hilton 18:57
Oh, absolutely. In fact, we’ll be going a lot deeper than we do on the course. Looking at understanding what anatomy and physiology is in terms of like, as a, you know, as a subject area, and all the various terminology will really dig a lot deeper into the musculature and function of the larynx and the cartilages, and you know, how everything moves. And in fact, I’ve just been talking to somebody about the tongue, and, you know, understanding better, all the different extrinsic muscles that we have and how it impacts on the larynx and the voice. And also in terms of posture, and how that impacts on singers. So it’ll be a lot more in depth. So the sort of, infrastructure or template that I’m working from is the 20 hour course, but with a lot more depth and, and then some added things because we’re going, we’re going really from 20 hours to 600 hours of guided learning.

Alexa Terry 20:07
Yeah. And is that live? Is it on film? How is it going to be conducted.

Line Hilton 20:13
So it will be online, through a platform, a learning (platform), a LMS learning management system called Canvas. And there’ll be pre-made videos for each week. And so each unit is 10 hours a week. And you will go in and you’ll watch those videos, there’ll be a bunch of different exercises and homework and research to go and to around whatever is discussed that week. And there will be also some sort of tutorial. So that’s, that will be live with a tutor. So you can ask questions, go through demos, and, and so on?

Alexa Terry 20:54
And is there any academic work? I mean, for me, I bloody love an essay, which is probably an anomaly. I love writing my dissertation. Is there any academic expectation?

Line Hilton 21:05
Yes. So you’ll be putting together your own portfolio in terms of your career. For instance, there’ll be multiple choice type exam questions, because there is an assessment week, so you have 10 weeks of the classes. And then the 11th week is your assessment week. And that’s going to come in various forms, it’ll be written, it’ll be, it might be you teaching and demonstrating yourself teaching, or it might be you handing in some sort of portfolio, or essay. Yep. So there will be academic writing and you’ll have to, you know, know your, how to reference and all that sort of things. So we’re preparing you as well, for those people who want to go further and go into post grad maybe ought to go to a more degree level, which we might do at some point. But at the moment, we’re just sticking to level five. But you could potentially go from level five into the post grad course, that Debbie winter runs. So in fact, we’ve been talking about her coming in and talking to people about academic writing and preparing yourself and how you extra research and that kind of thing. We’re not going to be super academic, but there’s definitely going to be an element of that.

Alexa Terry 22:17
Sounds like a really good kind of link in. I remember speaking with Debbie, for one of our episodes of the podcast, about, you know, how academic stuff feels for some people and how we can get into it. So it sounds like it’s a, it’s a nice kind of segue in.

Line Hilton 22:32
Totally, yeah, in fact, that’s my hope that we are that transition between the 20 hour course, and then going into more academic, and it’s not going to be for everybody, that side of things. I don’t want to make this it’s level five, you know, it should be some academia, but mostly practical, because I want people to have a better practical understanding of what being a singing teacher is. And to come out having a much more certain pathway that they’re going to follow. So that they don’t sort of come out in wishy washy around and which, you know, is fine, if you want to do that. But I think a lot of people waste time because they don’t have the confidence or they haven’t thought about it, or they hadn’t instigated some kind of plan. And so with, with the careers portfolio, you’re definitely going to be sitting there and, and it’s all pertinent to you. That’s the other thing, which I really like about this course. Everything you’ll be able to use in your teaching, but also, in terms of you’re building your career.

Alexa Terry 23:38
If someone’s already done the 20 hour course, can they still do the accreditation? What? And what’s new for them?

Line Hilton 23:46
Yeah, well, as I said, there’ll be some stuff that will be covered from the course. But we’ve what we’ve done is we’ve allowed for that in sort of monetary compensation, in terms of if you’ve done the course, in the last I think, you know, since nine 2017, or something or 18. Or whenever it was you did the course will take the price of that course off. So you don’t pay the whole lot because there is going to be some doubling up. But to be really honest, you know, I often hear students say to me, or people grads say to me, Oh, it’s so funny, I reviewed, you know, the first three lessons of the course and I totally forgotten and, you know, and there were a whole lot of words and terms that I neglected to remember and, and it was really good revision. So I feel like it’s good revision, you know, you can never, and if, if this is not your field, you know, so like from me, it’s maybe a little easier because I come from the medical world. And so the medical terminology is something I’ve been talking since I was 17. And it’s not new, but if you’ve only ever heard at once you know, and you’re not using it at work, then it’s very easy for that information to slip out. So I’m sure that even though a lot of people will have done a course already and have that information, they’ll be quite grateful to have the revision. And it also means that if you do know it, if you do know it, well, then that’s a whole lot of time that you can sort of pull back for yourself. And you don’t have to spend so much time in that area, the way that of course is, you know, if you get to a place where you go, Oh, yeah, I’ll watch this. And I don’t need to delve into this any further. Because I know enough. As long as you are able to come up with the goods, you know, during the assessment, not a problem. And who’s going to be running the videos, are we going to see yourself? Is there anybody else that we have in the board? So Kaya (Herstad-Carney) and I are sort of the main program developers and content developers, but I’ve been talking to lots and lots of different people. And nothing’s set in stone yet. But everybody’s been really interested in being involved, you know, from, you know, people who come from the vocal health side, to the fact today I was talking to an osteopath about coming in and talking about posture, and the larynx and that kind of thing. You know, I’ve spoken to quite a few pedagogues already. And also business people who come from that business world, who can really help us understand how we can effectively market and how to use social media as a way of building up a business. 

Alexa Terry 26:32
So watch this space really.

Line Hilton 26:34
Yes, yes. I mean, there’ll be a, you know, accountants story about keeping books and and talking about whether or not to become a limited company or not, and, you know, the pros and cons. So it’s really very in depth.

Alexa Terry 26:47
Yeah, yeah. Cool. We’ve talked about a couple of the benefit, I mean, so many benefits, including pathways into institutions and conservatoires showing that you have that qualification is quite beneficial. What are the benefits are we going to get from having that certificate that says, we have a qualification?

Line Hilton 27:07
Well, I think confidence is a big one. And a lot of singers don’t teach because they’re just lacking confidence to do it. Not that they haven’t got the knowledge or ability, they just don’t have the confidence to go out and start finding students and start charging. So I feel like that’s a really big one, you know, that the confidence and because you’ve got a plan, by the end of it, you know, you’ve got a career plan, a business plan. And all the other knowledge, you know, that comes with understanding how to teach. Yeah, so I think that’s really the biggest thing. Also, it opens you to stuff that you might never have normally found out about or been exposed to. Because you’ll get to meet and hear from so many different experts in the singing world and the teaching world and the science world. So you’re for me, and I know you’re the same, you know, knowledge is power. So that’s another thing you’ll benefit from.

Alexa Terry 28:04
Yeah, great. And do we have an idea of what the costs would be?

Line Hilton 28:09
So the course it’s the whole. So let me get the names of the different levels, because the interesting thing is that you can come in and just sign up to do the full award, which is the extended diploma. And that’s all six units. Or you can just do one unit at a time and then gradually build up to having all the units needed to get the full award. So the full award is 3300. If you pay upfront, then you get a 5% discount, or bursary. And if you’re a have already done the BAST course, then you get off the total of the course whatever it was that you paid for your course. So if you know the more recent people pay, I think 847 pounds so that they that’s what they’d have subtracted. So that’s quite a significant, that’s nearly 1000 pounds off for someone who’s done the BAST course. There’s single units of 550 per unit, and we have payment plans as well. So if you decide that you would like to do it, but you can’t afford to pay it in full, not not a problem. We have a 12 payment, so you put it down a deposit, which is 20% and then there’s 12 payments. after that. I can’t remember what the amount is sorry. I should have had that up in front of me. I think it’s 200 and something pounds a month so by the time, before you even finish you will have completed the payments and right now it’s the whole what would you call it the whole bureaucracy of getting student loans or some sort of funding from the government is very complicated. And so I think probably it’ll be a year or two before we have that up and running. Yeah, it’s just very convoluted how you have to go about getting into that position to be able to offer that kind of financial help. So right now, unfortunately, the best we can do is, you know, offer you a discount if you’ve already done the course. And and then if you’re paying full.

Alexa Terry 30:32
And the 20 hour course, will still be running, won’t it?

Line Hilton 30:35
Yes, absolutely. The 20 hour course will still be running. And in fact, you know, we’ve got to two intakes next year already starting to book up. So yeah, absolutely. And then if you decide you want to go on and do the certificate, you know, you just you know, that you can get on this certificate and remove the money that you’ve already. Yeah, so I think that’s pretty good deal. Yeah, so that’s and then obviously some of that has to be paid to the RSL. And then, you know, got, examiner’s and people come in and moderate us and all that sort of thing. So there’s much more costs involved in running a qualification.

Alexa Terry 31:16
So where can people find out more? Can they book a call to chat through this with someone?

Line Hilton 31:22
Absolutely. So they can either book a call through the usual process of just booking a free call, and myself or Kim will talk to them, or Kaya. And there’s an application form as well, which we’re going to have a one of the things I’m working on at the moment is putting together the page for the website. And we’ll have all that information, we have a brochure. So if you’re interested in doing the course and you want to find out more about the details, then just drop us an email, and we’ll send you the brochure that you can look at. Or if you join the mailing list. You know, there will be a moment where you get asked, “Are you interested in the accreditation?” And if so, then you’ll get the relevant information is go but the easiest way is to book a call and and we’ll send you the brochure as well. Yeah, so we’re very excited. Very excited about that.

Alexa Terry 32:15
And what’s the best email for people to contact?

Line Hilton 32:18

Alexa Terry 32:23
So exciting. That’s great. Well, once again, congratulations on the growth of BAST and the 11th, 11th birthday. Obviously you will have to give you the birthday bumps.

Line Hilton 32:37
Yes. I need to put it in my calendar so I can keep up.