Jersey vocal coach Gia Morgan explains how she mixes technical know-how with crystals, affirmations and meditation in her holistic singing studio.
Gia Morgan opened her studio Vocals with Gia in the Channel Islands in September, and, despite the pandemic, her business is thriving.
An accomplished performer who studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music, Gia teaches technique and vocal health and steers students through graded exams if that’s what they desire.
But if a singer is interested in exploring the primal and spiritual nature of voice, Gia also incorporates holistic practices into lessons.
“When I was younger, I used to be very technical; I was so into perfection,” she says. “I’m still into technique now, but I want to bring more into it. I want to combine voice with other things that can help people.”
After studying with BAST Training during the first lockdown, Gia – who had taught singing at various schools – was raring to start her own vocal coaching business.
She wanted to set up a studio that reflected her values and where she could combine her technical singing knowledge with her interest in Kirtan meditation and Bhakti practices.
“BAST gave me the confidence to go out there and do it,” she says.
When Gia opened a studio in the Jersey capital St Helier last year, she found a new sense of freedom.
“I think it’s easier on your own,” she says. “I’m at peace now. I don’t know if I could work for somebody else now because I’m so passionate about what I do.”
Here’s a taste of how Gia brings her interest in holistic practices into her lessons.
Students sing with bare feet
“I always tell my students to sing from their feet,” Gia says.
“Most of my students take their shoes off when we do lessons so they have a connection to the earth. Our ancestors used to sit by a fire pit and sing, but now it’s got very technical. I remind people that this is our source; we sing from our feet.”
Start with an affirmation
“A lot of vocalists are perfectionists, so I try to teach them to step back a little bit,” Gia says.
This means starting a lesson with an affirmation such as ‘Today I choose to give myself a moment’ or ‘Today I choose to be more verbal’.
Work with emotions – don’t suppress them
Gia encourages students to explore their feelings – whether they be the result of a bad day, a family argument or a significant trauma.
“Singing is not all about technique; it’s also to do with how we’re feeling within,” she says.
Lessons might start with an affirmation followed by voice meditation before moving on to classical or contemporary repertoire.
“I’m not a qualified counsellor. I don’t delve into the why, but I take the feeling and explore it through sound.
“I’m aware of time constraints, and I want to be singing, not talking, so I change the conversation from ‘let’s find out the problem through talking to each other’ to ‘how can we take what you’re feeling right now and put it into this song?’.
“If a student gets upset or emotional, a lot of teachers might say ‘take five minutes and here’s a tissue’ whereas I say, ‘sing into it, let it out’.”
Earth Choir is not a traditional choir; it’s more of a celebration of group singing. The group would meet on the beach in September and sing barefoot on the sand. The choir then moved indoors (when restrictions permitted) but kept the same laid-back vibe*.
“The singers come in, and I play some nice music – it may be Shamanic, Indian or tribal – and I get out a lot of crystals – lapis and blue stones as they’re healing for the voice.
“The singers lie on the floor and place the blue crystals on their necks. Placing them on the neck gives them a different thought process and helps create awareness.”
Gia encourages her students to let go of the fear of being judged. “There is sometimes a problem with judgement, especially when singing in groups. Letting go of judgement is the first step to opening the throat chakra. Once they start doing that, the voices get louder – they might go more out of tune because people just let go and vocalise.
“I think singing in groups can be very grounding. We need more healing; we need people to get together and sing and share.”
*Jersey is self-governing, and its Covid-19 restrictions differ from the rest of the UK. Jersey’s Covid-19 caseload has been lighter than in most parts of the country, and restrictions have reflected this.
Interested in starting your own studio? Find out how the BAST Training course can help you start a studio that reflects your ethos and values.