Laura Ingram is a Jazz singer/ vocal teacher and sound therapist – she is also my piano teacher.
I started having piano lessons with Laura about a year ago. I was never very musically inclined, but like everyone, I always wanted to be able to create some sort of sound that was uniquely my own. To be heard. It is often hard to find the words to describe moments of significance, how can you summarise things that have such impact in black and white? From an outsider’s perspective, learning the piano for me, probably looked like a traumatic experience. In the beginning, I was overly apologetic for any mistakes I would make, riddled with nervous tension, incredibly self-critical and I swore way too much, probably more than all of Laura’s students combined. Even though it was challenging – I loved it. Learning the piano was like being on a rollercoaster, jerked around from side-to-side, with no clear destination in sight. It felt like freedom itself. Piano has helped me to better understand who I am as a person and to ultimately just keep playing the music! My own soundtrack to life.
You don’t meet many people like Laura. And in a world, that is changing too fast, it is good to know that there are people like her out there. She is real. Mozart once said that we should go on a journey, where that journey may take us, who can tell. This is a look inside Laura’s journey.
Where your love of music come from?
I didn’t really grow up in a musical family. My mum is an accountant and my dad is a rugby coach. They are a very nuclear family that had a lot of 80’s records. I guess common musical tastes of parents from the 70’s and 80’s. So, I guess in that way I grew up loving bands, rather than listening to heaps of electronic music. I got into more traditional music like Fleetwood Mac, folk singers like Joni Mitchell and Carol King. I kind of looked at how they got to be as good as they are and where their music came from, which was the blues and the blues is a derivative of jazz. Then I decided I was going to be a jazz singer and I started listening to Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, just to name a few. I really wanted to hear the great singers of the 20th Century and try to have a high-quality sound. Because, a lot of the singers that I liked, I did not feel like they were using their voice as much as it could be used in the 90’s when I was growing up. I did love my pop though as well.
When you discovered that you wanted to be a Jazz singer did you feel like that this what I have been put on this earth to do?
Why do you sing?
I started when I was quite young so I wasn’t thinking like that. I just did it because it felt good. I just did it because I liked doing it when I was a kid. I think it wasn’t until I became an adult that I started considering the existential reasons of singing. How it impacts people. Putting on performances and making some of my 16-year-old classmates cry, I thought “Oh maybe I’m good at this?” I was just enjoying it.
When you sing is it to reach people? For yourself?
Both, definitely both. If I’m not enjoying it then that is going to come through in the sound. I think to be able to reach people you must be connected to yourself and connected to the music that you are singing. They feed into one another.
There isn’t a true definition of love, but do you feel that you are in love music?
I think it is just a part of my life now. And I don’t sing or create everyday but it is something that I cannot now be without. It is not infatuation, where it is like “I really want to be blah” or “I really want to be famous” or whatever. All that is crap, it happens if you work hard. For me I just want to enjoy the process and just keep it as part of my life. Because, I stopped doing it for a while because a few people didn’t have any faith in me. Like I said, I didn’t grow up in a musical family so no one was really like “So are you going to go and study music now?” “Because you are really good.” I didn’t have the confidence to really decide for myself that I was going to do it. So, I did stop for a while and I really felt that my soul dried out. Now it is just a matter of how can I keep music in my life and not let myself sabotage my own creativity.
So, do you think that this is what led to you teaching music and becoming a sound therapist?
Definitely. I had experienced some sound healing performances by other artists, I put on a chanting session in the sky space at NGA. I would recommend checking it out it is a cool dome like space where there is a lot of natural reverb, so when you chant everyone’s voices kind of mix. And it seemed to be quite a healing experience for a lot of people there. Then I just kept doing my research and found a few modalities like Biofield Tuning and The Tomatis Method therapy that could really help with a lot of emotional and learning disorders, for want of a better term. I had also suffered from dyslexia as well, all through school and all through University and no one ever told me (laughs). I think doing music really helped me to improve that and that I studied better when I was listening to music. Like ambient kind of stuff and I really wanted to tackle my dyslexia, that’s part of the reason why I got into it. As well as being in awe of this spiritual experience that we are all having.
From my perspective, I think it is a pretty brave and courageous doing something like this amidst all the… don’t want to get too political… the medication peddlers, psychologists, psychiatrists who sort of flood the market. Going out against it, do you feel that there is a need for this?
Definitely. There is a trend towards more alternative and natural therapies that have worked for centuries. But, unfortunately a lot of that wisdom has been lost and I guess I want to be a part of revitalising the human’s ability to naturally heal themselves. Rather than needing specific medication that kind of acts as a band-aid solution for the issue without dealing with what is at the core of what is going on.
Do you feel like you radiate more to the teaching or therapy?
They feed into one another. If I wasn’t working on myself and my personal development, not even my musical development, I don’t think that I would be a very good teacher or a very good performer. You must be very present, very aware and very organised to do those kinds of things. I could not have the spirituality, so practising on myself and others helps for me improve and to see that improvement in others. The music teaching has made me such a better musician because I had to explain how to do what I do. And performing has so much more depth because I feel like I’m connected to this shared existence that we are all having. I’m not doing it for my ego – all the time – as I say that I realise that that is an ego statement (laughs). I try to do it to learn and be curious and to go deeper rather than for the glory. So, teaching and therapy are all connected, they all feed into one another.
What do you want your students to take away from your lessons?
I hope that they can find the confidence within themselves to continue learning about music and to feel that they can use their voice in life. I think singing has this amazing ability to open people up if they have issues going on. Ed Sheeran, for example, had a stutter most of his childhood and by teaching himself how to rap he cured himself of his stutter just from rapping. There are so many cases of anxious or emotional people who become artists not for the glory but who need their art to help them survive pretty much or to get them through whatever they are going through. So I hope that I can give my students enough tools to make their own art. To keep teaching themselves how to play and how to sing and to know that they are good enough to perform. A lot of my students don’t think they are good enough to sing and it is just a story they tell themselves.
If you would like to learn to sing? Find your voice? Or play piano even? You can contact Laura through her Facebook Page
Or send her an email to the following address: email@example.com
Now you are probably wondering whatever happened to that nervous young man who swore too much? Well I can happily tell you that he doesn’t swear as much anymore, that he is a lot kinder to himself and that he played his first piano performance a month ago and you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.
Featured image supplied by Laura Ingram