I'm Steven Luke Walker, Head of Singing and Music at GSA (The Guildford School of Acting), West End Vocal Coach and consultant, pioneer for the development of excellent musical theatre vocal training and composer of new musical theatre. Welcome to my website, SLW: The Voice Whisperer.
If you're tired and frustrated by your voice and longing to be able to meet the vocal demands of musical theatre and are seeking the answers to why, I am positive I will be able to help you. There is no magic answer, just a well-designed system of training without gimmick, or a one-size fits all approach to the training of singing. The Voice Whisperer Training System (LCS: Laryngeal Conditioning System) is comprehensive in its approach and unmatchable in its results but delivered in an easy accessible format, so take a look and get in touch!
If you're interested in learning more about my writing, take a look at the videos below and look out for the forthcoming shop with sheet music download available!
Whatever you're looking for, I hope you find it and if you don't…. please, drop me a line
Whilst musical theatre progresses at the rate that it does with regards to the ever growing vocal demands it puts upon actors, it is essential to not only find a vocal technique that fulfils the audience stunning feats and stylistic requirements of the music, but one that will enable any performer to sing with ease eight shows a week, WHILST endorsing vocal skills that will ensure career longevity and versatility.
So! Does this wonderful vocal technique exist? Quite simply; yes. If the individual has a healthy working instrument and a strong work ethic, yes.
Vocal science has moved on vastly in recent decades (although there's a long way to go!) and given us the answers to many aspects of the human voice that singers, actors and teachers have seen steeped in mystery for years. So if this is the case, why do there seem to be so few actors who can meet the demands of contemporary composer's expectations and further more, why are there even fewer that can do so and retain optimum vocal health and finish a contract with all their voice intact?
Well, there are many reasons for this. Firstly, there is very much a culture of 'living for the moment' with regard to performers themselves; as long as you get through this run, this week, this show, we can worry about the consequences afterwards. Secondly, the industry does not boast the same lifelong training system it once did. A formal training followed by getting a break to play in an ensemble, followed by a cameo or featured role, a supporting role, understudying a lead AND THEN the 'big break'! The culture is much more driven by the commercial and media ideals of overnight stardom and success, as ordained by reality TV shows and the eternal quest for a star bigger than the last one; one that can 'belt' higher than the last, one that can push the boundaries of 'extreme' vocals even further and one that can take this and recreate it eight shows a week (and usually one who is no age with no formal training because that's more impressive, right?). The final reason…..? Audiences. Yes, even the spectator plays their part. The performance qualities that were once saved for the arena and recording studio have become increasingly popular in theatre's. I call this the 'grotesque factor'. Many times I have been at the theatre whether it be to assess a voice or support a client and I have witnessed audiences going mad for what can only be described as poor or 'pained' singing. Performers literally pushing anyway they can to force their poor larynx to complete the task in hand. I would ask 'why'? Why do people find that poor girl turning red, veins pulsing in her neck, in visible discomfort, riddled with tension so exciting? It didn't take long to understand there are many who enjoy the gratifying thrill of seeing someone expel extreme emotion, at any cost; the extreme emotion that we are often forced to oppress. Alright…. rant over! Call me old fashioned but I find it breathtakingly more exciting to see someone deliver the goods with the illusion of effortless grace. Of course sometimes we want to give the performance of a rock star but lets save that for the actor in us. We can find the rock star vocal in a technically safe way that's surprisingly truthful without being detrimentally authentic.
So in conclusion, the ethos of my work is the delivery of a specialist system of training designed to enable any actor meet to the demands of musical theatre, no matter what the style, safely without sacrificing the magic created at the extremis of emotion.
Steven is the Head of Singing at The Guildford School of Acting (GSA) and vocal coach to West End and national productions, as well as running his own private practice in the heart of theatre land, boasting an array of West End royalty.
Originally training formally as a dancer, Steven went on to study classical piano and opera at The Birmingham Conservatoire, before training at The Birmingham School of Acting. It was whilst performing, Steven developed a fascination with the mystery of the voice and the various different forms of vocal production endorsed by performers. It was this that drove Steven to undertake vigorous vocal training from a vast range of tutors, studying a wide range of methodologies and pedagogical practices and ultimately inspired Steven to compare the vocal trainings available for actors in the West End and Broadway.
Since then Steven has worked with professionals, those training vocationally and specialised in teaching singing for early years through to youth theatre. Steven is now in high demand as a singing tutor and vocal coach to West End and national theatre productions and regularly requested to lead workshops and training throughout the UK.
Also a composer, Steven is privileged to have a whole host of stars willing to sing his material. Steven's west end credits as a composer include his historical fairytale 'Blaze' which claimed a five star rating and critic's choice from Time Out Magazine following its premiere in 2008. In March 2011, The Charing Cross Theatre housed the sell out concert 'Stars of the West End Sing the Songs of Steven Luke Walker', which featured the glitterazzi of the West End singing a whole array of songs from musical concepts inspired by novels and film; including C.S Lewis' 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe', J.K.Rowling's epic novel 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', Louisa May Alcott's 19th century classic 'Little Women', and the British docudrama 'The Young Victoria'. Steven has a range of musicals especially written for theatre schools and children, featuring fairytale, historical and original concepts.
For anyone seeking individual singing tuition, an initial consultation is essential in order to determine the correct course of action tailored to the exact needs of YOU, the client. The consultation will usually last an hour and fifteen minutes and will begin with a discussion covering your vocal history and any specific aims you may have with regards to your future training. This will be followed by a vocal assessment, where you will be guided through an array of specially designed exercises to ascertain vocal strengths, weaknesses and any areas for troubleshooting. To conclude you will be asked to sing. You will be required to bring two songs to the consultation; one that demonstrates you at your vocal best and another that maybe poses specific challenges for you or is representative of the aspects of your voice you wish to develop.
Following this, there will be another discussion including any diagnosis of vocal issues, accompanied by an exercise programme, answers to any questions you may have had and a suggested course of training to follow, should it be deemed necessary.
A consultation costs :
* A Theatre Consultation is perfect for anyone who is currently appearing in a show and maybe concerned about a particular aspect of their performance, or maybe would like an opinion on their technique in performance generally. The standard section of the consultation will usually be scheduled for the next day or ASAP after the theatre visit.
I am unable to offer regular tuition as far as booking in regular time slots are concerned. Simply due to my other commitments, it is nigh on impossible to offer repeat times. HOWEVER, I am able to see clients 'frequently'. I will usually see people every two to three weeks initially but more often than not one session can be enough to get you on the right track! Quickly, clients realise that the time spent with me is NOT where the real work is done. The 'real work' happens away from the lesson, implementing that covered in the tutorial in your own time and again, programming (or reprogramming) your muscle memory. I will provide you with the tools but it's down to you to master your art!
I am pleased to offer a range of bespoke master classes that cover an array of subject matters, frequently requested for teachers and actors/singers of all ages. Additionally, if your school, company or training centre, require a specialist master class in another subject, I am happy to discuss options and put together a package to suit. In any case, all master classes will be tailored to meet your individual numbers and specific requirements.
As master classes are tailored to the client's individual needs, prices will differ based on class numbers, length and content.
All training days are tailored to the requirements of your tutors or establishment and prices are subject to participant capacity, day length and content.
Whatever the production, whether full scale or workshop, professional or theatre school, I am available on a consultation or contractual basis to offer expert technical support to an individual or entire company, no matter what the musical style or vocal requirements.
Any questions or to book any of the above services please email: firstname.lastname@example.org