Vocal coach and music lecturer Lee Risdale to lead new six week singing course


A version of this article was published in the Bath Weekend magazine on January 7.


For Vocal Coach and Music Lecturer Lee Risdale, the key to becoming a successful singer is passion and persistence.


Lee, a professional vocalist for two Soul bands, started work at Bath College with a real desire to work with other singers.


Over the past few years, he has tracked the careers of former students whose musical talents have made it into the newspaper headlines.


The list includes Stos Goneos, from Bite the Buffalo, Chris Georgiadis, singer for the rock band Turbowolf, and Matt Sellors, part of the Bristol-based ska punk band Yes Sir Boss!


Most famously, Lee voice coached singer songwriters Gabrielle Aplin and Laura Doggett, who came to Bath College to study music performance at the age of 16.


Chart-topper Gabrielle, who signed a deal with Parlophone Records early in 2012, found herself in the spotlight after covering Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love for John Lewis’ Christmas advertising campaign.


The 23-year-old keeps in touch with Laura, who was in the year below her at Bath College and found fame when her single Old Faces was used for the new Broadchurch trailer in 2014.


“I could tell they both had their own distinct style and they were each talented for sure,” says Lee, who is researching what makes a truly successful singer.


“Laura had a distinct voice for a female – quite a low and rich-toned voice – and I didn’t want to change that. Sometimes you know when someone has a unique quality. It’s about exploring that quality and making opportunities to develop it.


“Gabrielle’s voice is stylistically more folk/rock. It had a lighter style at first and very soulful, then it got a lot stronger from touring.


“My favourite song of Gabby’s is ‘Home.’ She performed it at the Christmas lights in Bath. When I first heard it I thought ‘That’s a really good song. I thought ‘that deserves to do well.’.”


Lee’s research will form the basis of his new book: The Voice – Mind, Body and Soul. For the book, he has spoken to singers, voice practitioners and professionals around the world to find out what it takes to become the Complete Singer.


In Lee’s opinion, great singers have a certain mindset, combined with the self-discipline needed to develop their skills and an ability to express themselves musically with raw authenticity.


“To become successful in any skill it takes persistence,” says Lee. “Gabrielle and Laura both had a real passion for music and that’s where it begins. They both soaked up styles and music from their favourite artists while pursuing their own unique style.


“As to becoming a star, that’s something different. Not all stars or celebrities have great talent, but they do possess something: a certain mindset.


“You need to have a certain mindset so you don’t hold back. It’s about breaking down barriers and breaking out of comfort zones.There is a work ethic, too. Sustained success takes dedication.


“It’s always interesting to see with any students we have here. They come in at the age of 16 and they haven’t always had the opportunity to express their own music.


“There seems to be a eureka moment for every singer when they latch onto a particular style and they realise what they can do.


“I remember Laura being at the piano. She had written a song and played it and the whole room really fell silent. She got a massive applause afterwards because it was just a beautiful song.”


To many finding fame as a professional singer seems like a fairy tale come true, but in reality professional singers need to work hard to build up their strength.


At Bath College, Lee teaches students vocal exercises to help them extend their range and advises them how to look after their voice.


Next January, he will be sharing his expertise with performers and musicians starting on a six week part-time course.


“Building strength and flexibility and preserving our voices is where the self-discipline comes in,” says Lee.


“There are things you can avoid. Dairy products and Chocolate are things to stay away from because they cause a lot of mucus. Chocolate tars the vocal cords – it makes them less flexible.


“I gave Gabrielle a list of vocal exercises to take with her on her first tour and I know she still uses them. They’re the same vocal techniques that Seth Riggs devised in training Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder before gruelling tours.”


Lee’s course, an ‘Introduction to Singing,’ is open to beginners and performers or musicians who want to improve in vocal confidence and build up a repertoire.


At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to record their own cover or original song in a professional studio.


“This is quite a special thing,” says Lee. “Not only will singers get to improve and develop, they will have something to work towards and a great reward at the end.


“The level you start at doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re getting better. Singers often compare themselves with other more experienced or successful singers and it doesn’t always help that our culture champions competition such as the shaming X-Factor TV shows.


“We have to remember that the race isn’t against others. The race is simply with ourselves because all voices are different and unique.


“That’s the beauty of it. Sometimes you may have to work harder than others depending on your life experience, but that’s ok because it’s so very worth it. We have an incredible Music Team here at Bath College and each of them is worth their weight in gold.”


Lee’s course starts on January 14. For more information click here.


Teenager is the first apprentice to study jewellery making with Bath Aqua Glass


Glass-making experts at Bath Aqua Glass have taken on a new apprentice.


The company, based at Cheap Street and Walcot Street, currently has five apprentices studying at Bath College.


College student Liam Taylor is the first apprentice to study jewellery making with Bath Aqua Glass and  will learn how to make pedants, beads and hanging glass.


He is hoping to develop his design and business skills at the company, one of the last free-blown glass studios in the UK.


Liam, 19, from Paulton, started searching for apprentices after finishing his A-levels at Midsomer Norton Sixth Form.


Hoping for practical hands-on experience, he opted for an NVQ Level 2 in warm glass making instead of a university course.


He said: “I went through a lot of apprenticeship websites. Most of the ones I was applying for were graphic design and mainly involved computers. This one was just really unusual and it was the most creative.


“My friend is doing an art foundation course and when I described what I was doing to him, he was tempted to apply. I thought that was interesting.”


Bath Aqua Glass is an independent business selling a range of free-blown glassware, jewellery and stained glass.


Themis Mikelides, one of the directors at Bath Aqua Glass, started off his own career by enrolling on an art foundation course.


However, he believes that enrolling on an apprenticeship is the best way to get industry relevant skills.


Mr Mikelides said: “You can come out of a college with a glass certificate and not be appropriate for industry.


“Liam will not only learn manufacturing and making skills, he will gain an understanding of how art works in a business sense.”


Many apprentices studying with Bath Aqua Glass stay with the company and others go on to be successful businessmen in their own right.


Former trainee James Devereux started working with the company at 15-years-old and now has his own studio in Wiltshire.


Mr Mikelides is passionate about passing on his expertise to the next generation and keeping the art of glass-making alive.


He said: “Having an arts and craft business in the heart of Bath manufacturing and retailing everything is especially unique.


“We like to use local people and to give young people an opportunity. I want to train up people that will be with us over a number of years.


“We’re working in conjunction with Bath College and I’m hoping that more apprentices like this will start taking place.


“At the end when Liam has finished his apprenticeship there will be a full-time job for him.


“I’m certainly hoping he will be there and all the time and materials we have invested in him will pay back ten-fold.”


Interested in an apprenticeship? Let us know!




What are the next steps to becoming an apprentice?


Our programmes are designed for young people who have either found an employer who will take on an apprentice, or for those looking to find an employer.
Please complete the form below giving details of the apprenticeship you want to take and the employer who has offered you a placement.



Register your interest in becoming an Apprentice using the form above.

College Placement Officer contacts you to discuss the next steps.

Interviews, start dates and enrollments are arranged for you.

You begin paid employment through the programme.


Students Union

January – New You?


Happy new year everyone! I hope you have all had a great Christmas break and ready to get stuck back into college! We have dedicated 3 weeks this month to try something new, motivation and health.


I have been standing at doorways from 8.30am giving out motivational quotes to start their day; it was great pleasure making people smile and wishing them a good day.


For a lot of you, you will have made New Year’s resolutions that you are sticking to. Tess and I ran an event called “Float your hopes” we got students to write their hopes for the year on a balloon and let it go! Lots of you also shared your resolutions on our chalk board, some busy years’ ahead!


Our SU members Ann-Marie and Lawrence ran a First Aid awareness stall to promote the basic first aid to students. It was shocking the amount of students that don’t know the basic first aid which could save lives.


We held a Re-fresher’s fair this month based on a “New Year, New Me” we held this event in our try something new week. We promoted sports, societies, student services, events and ideas. It was great to see so many students getting involved! Our SU members Louie and Henry ran a 3D modelling stall to for other students to try something new.


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