Discover the one-stop-singing shop with a 16-strong team and the bio-psycho-social model at the heart of its approach.
When the doors to the Valentine Voice Care Centre opened in Lewes, East Sussex, last month, it was the culmination of many years of planning for Kate Valentine.
“I wish something like this had existed when I was going through difficulties with my voice and recovering after surgery,” says Kate, who is a vocal coach, vocal massage therapist and vocal health practitioner.
Along with providing singing lessons and vocal health triage, the centre offers the services of a performance psychologist, counsellor, nutritionist, performance coach, Feldenkrais practitioner, vocal massage therapist, speech and language therapist and osteopath. There is also space for clients just to hang out and relax.
“People can just come here for singing lessons, or access some of these other therapies if they wish,” Kate explains on the Singing Teachers Talk podcast. “But if we need to, we can take people from broken all the way back to being on the stage.”
Finding a better way
The idea for the centre had been bubbling away in Kate’s mind for years. It was inspired by the personal crisis she experienced after suffering a career-defining vocal injury seven years ago.
“The loneliness I experienced with my own vocal injury had a profound effect on me,” she says. “When you have something wrong with your voice, particularly if you have to be mute for a certain period of time, it’s a really strange experience.
“You can’t express your opinions, convey your personality or tell people you love them. I felt stripped of my identity and personality.
“That experience for me was relatively short: only two weeks. But many people live with this every single day because of injury, ageing, extreme muscle tension or a psychogenic voice disorder.”
While many visitors to the centre will be professional voice users such as singers, actors and presenters, Kate’s mission is to offer care and support to anyone who needs it.
Having such a large multi-disciplinary team (16 people in total) means the centre can help clients step back and look at the bio-psycho-social aspects impacting their well-being and performance.
“We aim to address the root causes of vocal issues by combining different therapeutic modalities and creating personalised treatment plans, when necessary,” she says.
“We are looking at it from that bio-psycho-social perspective because the voice is complex; the voice doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
“For too long, we’ve all existed in this world where we have singing lessons and coaching, but there isn’t much attention paid to how you look after your voice and yourself as a human being. We need to look at all the tools you will need to survive in this industry.”
Creating a multidisciplinary team
While Kate has brought together a large team in Lewes, she stresses that taking a multidisciplinary approach on a more modest scale is also possible.
Her first foray into building a vocal care team started with a one-room studio in central Glasgow. She still works there four to five days a month.
“I have a mini team in Glasgow, which includes a fantastic speech and language therapist and another teacher who is well on her way to being a qualified singing voice rehabilitation specialist. Between the three of us, we’ve got a mini multidisciplinary team.
“My advice to anyone wanting to do something like this is to feel the fear and just do it. It’s always terrifying. But if you show up, and you’re good at what you do and committed and consistent, then clients will come.”
Listen to the full interview with Kate on the Singing Teachers Talk podcast, where she discusses:
- The challenges of finding and renovating her business premises.
- The pressures performing artists are facing in the industry right now.
If you’d like to know more about the bio-psycho-social model, listen to our interview with Stephen King.