Vocal coach Cat Ogden reveals how she transformed her teaching approach by making one important change.
Singing teacher Cat Ogden was just getting started on her Master’s in Voice Pedagogy when she had a light bulb moment.
Cat was trying to determine the focus of her voice studies (and struggling because so many elements of voice fascinated her) when she watched a webinar that changed everything. The webinar by Emily Foulkes was about singing and trauma and explored the long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences.
“I was fascinated, as I had quite a troubled childhood,” Cat explains on the Singing Teachers Talk podcast. “I have bouts of depression now and again, but I am generally okay. And I thought, ‘Why is that? Is it because I sing? I need to explore this’.”
Cat threw herself into studying adolescent mental health as part of her Master’s and became a Mental Health First Aider.
Putting mental health first
Cat was so inspired by what she learned during her studies that she decided to make mental health a central part of her teaching – a move that proved a game-changer.
“It’s been one of the best things that I’ve done for my practice and my personal life,” Cat says. “Having the skills to know how to support mental health and recognise signs of poor mental health has been fundamental.”
The Cheshire-based teacher points out that she’s not a counsellor or a therapist. “I’m very clear what the boundaries are,” she says.
“As a First Aider, I’m the first port of call to be able to support people. My studio is a safe environment where people can come in and feel safe and express themselves. They build a level of trust with you as the teacher, and to know how to support them is wonderful.”
Promoting her specialism
Cat promotes her mental health and well-being specialism on her website and has attracted many new students as a result.
“Quite a few people who get in touch via social media or on my website do so because they read about what I do,” she explains. “They say that one of the reasons they’ve come to me is because I talk about mental health and well-being.
“Singing can have a profound effect on your mental health and well-being. The act of singing is very good for you. Students will come back to me and say, ‘this is just great. I just feel great after I leave the lesson’. And they just come back for more.”
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