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Mr Keith Davis 

Head of Vocal Studies

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Mr Keith Davis is the Head of Vocal Studies in Music at the University of Southampton.

I am Head of Vocal Studies here at the University of Southampton. I started gaining voice teaching experience when I was still a student at The Royal College of Music, mainly out of financial necessity until my international career started a year or so after leaving the RCM. Even when treading the boards in Early Opera, Oratorio and Recitals, I kept up with my own programme of exploring vocal techniques and communication skills with more experienced colleagues and vocal coaches of national and international repute.

You can imagine the amount of knowledge, experience and advice (often conflicting advice) I have absorbed since I made my solo debut in The Royal Festival Hall, London in the early 1970’s. Between gigs in the 1980’s I spent some time at The Actors Centre in Central London, where I taught voice in a quid pro quo agreement: I taught professional actors how best to use their singing voice, and in turn I was instructed in basic acting and stage techniques. The RCM appointed me professor of singing around this time, as did St John’s College Oxford.

I have developed this accumulated practice advice, honing it for young singers so that I can evaluate vocal health, stamina, communication skills and your vocal potential, which is all part of my job as Head of Studies. I am also a qualified Tai Chi instructor, a discipline that I came to after achieving a 1st Dan in Freestyle Karate at The National College of Karate London. Tai chi has proved an invaluable regimen for developing a Singer's and Actor's vocal breath support, as well as a device to help control performance anxiety. I pass on some of this knowledge to all the classical singers during the vocal warm-up section of the biweekly performance classes held in The Turner Sims Concert Hall on campus. I also teach basic Drama to develop deportment, ease of movement, confidence and stage etiquette in preparation for your public performances and exams.



A philosophy of vocal health and nurture for young voices underpins Keith’s approach to the task of Head of Vocal Studies. As a qualified Tai Chi instructor, he first introduced Chi Gung breathing techniques for focus, identification of vocal support, and negation of performance stress to his students at The Royal College of Music, London, where he was Professor of Singing (1981–86). Further insight into the workings of the voice came from his experience of working with actors when employed as a singing coach at London’s Actors Centre in the West End.

Individual study with Keith encompasses not only the Tai Chi breathing techniques but also exercises for the core, utilising the Bosu Balance Trainer as part of his overall strategy of vocal health and technical development. Attention is also given to diagnosing possible vocal disorders in the young developing voice, brought on perhaps by un-schooled vocal belting or pushing the lower or upper register of an adolescent voice too hard, too soon.

Keith's teaching is informed by his experience of studying and singing with some of the outstanding performers of the 20th century: his teachers have included Paul Esswood, Gordon Clinton (his Royal College of Music professor), Helga Mott and Paul Hamburger. As an international solo artist in oratorio, recital and chamber opera he has performed with Arleen Auger, Barbara Bonney, Elly Ameling, Anthony Rolf Johnson, Ian Partridge, Michael George, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Armin Jordan (Radio Suisse Romande), Phillip Herreweghe and Charles Farncome (Handel Opera Society). Keith was a member of the early music group Pro Cantione Antiqua from 1970 until 1976, and features on CDs recorded by Harmonia Mundi, Deutsche Grammophon and EMI. He is founder and Director of Cantores Michaelis (University Choral Scholars).

Mr Keith Davis
Building 2 Department of Music University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

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