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Teaching At The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

“Kathleen McKellar Ferguson is very highly regarded as one of the top singing teachers in Scotland”. (Christopher Bell, NYCOS)

“Kathleen has helped so many vocal students to gain knowledge and confidence in this fickle business”. (Dame Sarah Connolly)

“Kathleen is an inspiring teacher with an impressive track record of success. As a talent spotter and developer of potential she is second to none” (John Wallace), Former Principal of RCS

” Kathleen is without doubt a first class pedagogue with much to say about the art of singing” (Alexander Oliver, Tenor and former Principal of the Amsterdam Opera School)

After nearly 20 years in London, initially as a post graduate student at the Royal College of Music (RCM) and then, subsequently as a freelance professional singer, I came back home to Scotland at the age of 42 to get married to Grant whom I have known since I was 5!! Long story!!
Since then I have had the joy and privilege of teaching singers of all voices and from all over the world both at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), formerly Royal Scottish academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), and also at home in my private teaching practice in Kippen, near Stirling.

I have loved my own “singing journey”. It has been hard at times but also wonderful. I have taken risks, travelled the world, and am now supremely content. I love my job. I love the music and the poetry. I love the collaboration between singer and pianist. I would like to think that I am carrying on the legacy of those who have gone before and sincerely hope that in my own way now, I can make a difference in my small corner.

I would be proud to think I could, in some measure, be a bit like my own teachers who have left an indelible imprint on my life. I would love to be able to pass on what I have learned over the years and to feel that I was making a valuable contribution to the next generation of young dedicated singers, both professional and amateur, for whom the gift of singing is not only life enhancing to them but also to the artistic life of our communities both large and small which enriches the society in which we live beyond measure. If you would like to find out more or have a consultation lesson I’d love to hear from you.
After a successful singing career spanning over 10 years of travelling around the world singing in opera and concerts my life changed direction and I discovered a great love for teaching. Since 2001 I have been teaching at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

My first teaching job, 30 years ago, was at the Junior School of the RCM in London while I was still a student, then subsequently at the Purcell School, St Paul’s Girls School, Beadales, Frances Holland and Dollar Academy. All of this has been an invaluable learning process for myself as I have honed and developed my own teaching experience and style. Over the years I have taught students of all voices, from all backgrounds and with varying degrees of musical expertise and vocal prowess.

I bring my own performing experience to my teaching and I am so glad that I have this to draw on. I try to advise my students as they in turn venture into this world. Every person, every singer, every voice is different. I love this rich variety and try to encourage each singer to find their own vocal personality with honesty and integrity in his or her own unique way. I believe in the paramount importance that a solid technical foundation, developed in a constructive and detailed manner over a period of time is fundamental to the future development of any singer. I am a strong advocate of “festina lente” (hasten slowly) and Ena Mitchell’s saying that “patience is a singer’s life”. There are no short cuts, and any singer who thinks there are, does so at his or her peril. As in all things in life I believe in “balance”. The balance between hard work and play, practice and rest, self discipline and relaxation, respect and familiarity, the exciting and the mundane, forward planning and preparation, pushing oneself or knowing when to hold back and wait a bit longer and, most importantly of all, taking time to just enjoy each moment.
As a teacher it is my job to guide but at the end of the day I can only “offer” and it is the singer’s responsibility to take things on board as I try to point them in the right direction. I try to encourage each of my students to embrace the careful, detailed process of these principles so that they all know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and have a sure understanding of how their voice works. It is imperative that each student can develop at their own pace with “blinkers on”, “running their own race” and “taking time to smell the roses along the way”!!

VOCAL HEALTH AND SPECIAL NEEDS

Over the years I have learned a lot about teaching students with dyslexia, dyspraxia, physical disabilities and other special needs. I have come to love these challenges and the immense rewards that accompany them when a student blossoms and flourishes in ways that neither they, nor I, thought possible. Sadly, some singers have walked into my studio either burnt out or with nodules and I have been entrusted with the awesome and sensitive task of rebuilding several damaged voices. In these circumstances I have been acutely aware of the huge amount of trust invested in me by these students who come in a very vulnerable state and I have felt the responsibility hugely. Although often daunting, this painstaking process of diagnosis and rehabilitation is hugely rewarding when one sees these damaged voices (and often damaged people!) return to good vocal health and confidence and, in some circumstances, begin a very successful singing career. Again in situations like these there is no substitute for taking things slowly.