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I know how important singing and performing was for me as a child! 🎧

Wow! Where to start?!

I have always LOVED music. My Mum often tells me about the many times I used to kick and move (before I was born) any time music came on. I think music is a natural part of me and something that is just built into my being.

My journey started when I was 11 years old. I was a quiet and nervous child crippled with OCD and anxiety. I used to be very socially awkward and my Mum thought it would be really good for me if I started an activity that I would enjoy. We found a kids singing group in the area and I joined. It was here that I met Jack – who has been my best friend ever since. We’d performed regularly at theatre shows, which I loved! 🎭

Developing the skill

Back then, I wasn’t very musically aware. I loved to sing but the understanding of (and holding a) harmony was something that I remember learning, vividly. I was involved in auditioning for lead solo parts which really helped me build my confidence of singing in front of others whilst of course, making a number of mistakes along the way too. Over time, I spent a lot of time working on my voice, understanding music and production (in the recording studio) and honing my skills. I loved it so much that spending every waking hour learning, studying and involved in the music scene really didn’t phase me. I loved every second.

When I was 16, I was teaching a kids singing group for a number of years, helping young singers develop and grow into competent performers. We’d create and teach harmonies (by ear) and dance moves to a performance standard, weekly.

I was also working in a recording studio at the time, undertaking admin tasks but also learning about the whole recording process. Watching a huge number of singers coming in to the studio to record covers & original songs was inspiring. I learnt how to record and edit, professionally. I had a home recording studio set up from the age of 14/15 so again, I’d spend a huge number of my evenings immersed in this. You should hear some of my early recordings! 🤣 As well as this, Jack & I would host live radio shows to an online audience. Hilarious.

Training as a vocal coach 🎙

At 17, I decided to train to become a certified vocal coach. I studied the Speech Level Singing methodology of vocal tuition working along some of the best vocal coaches in the world. Incredible coaches that have worked with the likes of Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake and many more. Trust me, having them work with you, on your voice, is a real honour. The training process was intense! We’d have to rake up a huge number of learning hours and then would go through a rigorous testing process. I remember one of my testing lessons with vocal coach, Wendy Parr who’s based in New York. It was terrifying but, she passed me and at that time, I was the youngest certified vocal coach in the UK. 

I then started my journey teaching one-to-one singing lessons and over the past 11 years, have probably taught thousands of singers. Helping all my students improve their vocal capabilities whilst developing their confidence too. I have assisted a number of singers in the recording studio and have also been a vocal director for a couple of artists. This is a task of creating and producing harmonies for commercially sounding music.

More recently, I have worked with Donel who has appeared on The Voice UK as his vocal coach. I’ve coached him through performances both on TV, radio and on stage and have helped him understand his voice better so that he can have a long and healthy career. It was an honour to be at the debut performance (on TV) of his single ‘Planets’ earlier in 2019 in London. Helping individual singers grow is still a real passion of mine.

Love Soul Choir 💜

Love Soul Choir started back in 2009. It looked to fill a void that was present in Southampton’s music scene. The goal was to create a choir different to everything else out there. Over the 10 years of Love Soul’s existence, we have grown from strength to strength. We have performed with Gareth Malone, performed on TV, sang with Susan Boyle & more recently with Take That at their Southampton leg of their ‘Odyssey Tour’. As well as this, we’ve performed at a number of charity events, weddings & corporate functions too. Love Soul Choir is a real love of mine and I am really passionate about pushing the bar higher and higher to create an amazing and impressive collection of singers ready to perform to super high standards, regularly.

SingForce

Seven years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to teach one to one lessons most evenings of the week. I’d teach from 2pm – 10pm (with no breaks!!), regularly whilst also being a peripatetic vocal coach at a secondary school in the mornings. It was absolutely exhausting. Something needed to change. This is where SingForce come from. I wanted to do more day-time work. I turned up to Marwell Zoo one lunchtime to start a workplace choir. The rest is history. SingForce now run around 18 workplace choir sessions each week. We have a team of awesome leaders delivering sessions all over the country. We also run staff away day sessions for businesses. With more and more clients contacting us regularly we’re at the forefront of employee wellbeing in the UK. Singing is such an incredibly powerful wellbeing tool.

As this all started to evolved, I was involved in a project called ‘Tempo Wellbeing’ a few years back. It was an initiative between two vocal coaches, a social worker & a clinical psychologist. We’d run singing workshops at acute mental health wards, care homes and other establishments. It was a huge learning experience for me. Understanding just how powerful music can be. Due to funding issues, we needed to stop the project.

One Sound Choir Collaboration

Back in 2015, Jack and I created One Sound where all the singers involved in the choirs we work with come together to put on an awesome show. This has grown year on year. Next year, in 2020, we have 600 singers coming together to perform to well over 1000 people at Mayflower Theatre. If somebody had told me at 13 that I was going to be putting on my own show at Mayflower Theatre in the future, I wouldn’t have believed them!

This blog has been quite tricky to write as there have been so many other experiences I’d love to share but we’d be here all day! It’s all these experiences, shows, social connections and people I’ve met along the way that have moulded my businesses in to what they are today. Being lucky enough to be involved in small scale performances, large scale events and even major productions means that I have learnt so much in my professional career.

Sound Pop Academy

Around the time of the first One Sound show, Mike (who was previously in Love Soul Choir) and I had often talked about the fact that there was nothing amazing for young singers in Southampton.  There’s a huge number of theatre based groups but nothing majorly commercial. We had discussed the possibility of starting something really special for kids in the Southampton area. This was where Sound Pop Academy was born. We wanted to create a safe space for children to come together, learn & develop their skills whilst singing and performing songs they love to hear on the radio. It was a few years in the planning but we launched in 2017 and have grown ever since.

Between Mike & I and all of our professional experiences, we really can offer our members something really special. To have Sound Pop Academy perform as part of One Sound in 2020 will be very magical. I know how important singing and performing was for me as a child and if I can help young, passionate singers (like I was) grow into confident adults who are happy doing whatever they choose to do in life, I’ll be very happy.

Dan Cooper – Director


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