COLLEAGUE TESTIMONIALS

Dame Sarah Connolly, Mezzo Soprano

Since student days at the Royal College of Music where we were contemporaries, I have always looked up to Kathleen for many things really: her integrity as a performer, confidence which comes from good research and skill, and her courage to perform interesting left-field programmes and for her beautiful voice. Personally, Kathleen is a kind, wise and generous colleague who has already helped so many vocal students gain knowledge and confidence in this fickle business.

Catriona Morrison, Mezzo Soprano, Cardiff Singer of the World 2017

I studied with Kath for two years at the start of my BMus degree at the RCS. She provided me with the tools to safely start building up my technique, and was careful to give me repertoire that challenged me but wasn’t too adventurous for where my voice was at the time. Kath cares deeply about her students and is a great support to them. She understands that each singer has their own vocal journey and adapts to what the individual needs. This combination, coupled with her musicianship skills, were very beneficial to me as a young singer.

John Wallace, CBE, Former Principal Of RCS

Kathleen McKeller Ferguson is an inspiring teacher with an impressive track record of success with a steady stream of advanced students. She has an unerring ear for pinpointing areas for technical improvement and a simple-to-understand methodology for paths to mastery that mark her as a go-to mentor for anyone who wants artistic success at the highest level. As a talent spotter and developer of potential she is second to none.

Jeffrey Sharkey, Head of Music at Purcell School and Principal of RCS

I first knew Kathleen McKellar Ferguson when I was Director of Music at the Purcell School in the 1990’s. She came to work with us and helped to elevate the standard of the voice department. She was a great colleague as well. I was delighted to see that Kath had been invited to teach for the RCS and that we would be colleagues once again in Scotland. She has a wonderful supportive manner with her students and I have had the pleasure of performing with some of them. Kath is a terrific teacher and a vital part of the RCS’ internationally renowned vocal department.

I am delighted to be able to make comment on the work that Kathleen has done for the Edinburgh Festival Chorus as language coach in German. Works coached for Festival Chorus Brahms – Gesang der Parzen; Schicksalslied; Liebeslieder Waltzer. Kathleen has a warm personality coupled with an authoritative delivery that gets results in a pleasant atmosphere and, when needed, with humour.
The chorus was in no doubt that she could hear the text that needed work, and that she was going to work it, patiently but with resolve until it was as required. The end result was that in the concerts that she had helped prepare, the chorus diction was very clear and sung with meaning. Away from Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Kathleen has taught a number of singers that I am familiar with through the National Youth Choir of Scotland. These singers of a variety of ages perform with good singing technique, confident delivery and appropriate style. In addition a number of her students through The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland have gone on to begin and sustain careers in the profession.
Dr Margaret Marshall,OBE, Soprano

I recently worked with some of Kath’s students and can confirm the very high standards she achieves. Having been a successful professional soloist herself, she knows what us expected of singers and that knowledge , combined with her musicianship, boundless energy and generosity makes her an ideal teacher.

Professor Christopher Underwood, Head of Vocal Dept, RCS until 2012

It was an important opportunity for me as head of Department when, in 2001, Kathleen decided to move north of the border to her homeland. I had no hesitation in inviting her to join the already strong team of vocal teachers and bring to the dept all the benefits of her own extensive career experience along with the technical and artistic knowledge she had acquired from her own distinguished teachers. She has continued to add a significant dimension to the department not only through her individual teaching, but by the quality of her performance classes which spread her expertise to all the singers in Stephen Robertson’s outstanding department at the RCS.

Alexander Oliver, Tenor, Head of the Opera Studio in Amsterdam

I had the great pleasure of working with Kathleen Coubrough at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels in a wonderful production of Mozart ‘s Die Zauberflöte and was immediately taken by her singing and also by her very committed approach to her work. She has clearly carried this sense of commitment to her teaching career. I have been an external examiner on a number of occasions at the Royal Scottish Conservatiore and have been consistently impressed by the performances of her students, both in examinations and competitions. She is, without question a first class pedagogue with much to say about the art of singing.

Pat Hay, Senior Vocal Lecturer , RCS

When Kath began teaching for the vocal department at RSAMD, now RCS, 15 years ago we just clicked and have remained friends ever since. I have worked on a regular basis with a number of her students and have found them to be both technically and musically proficient which is a testament to her teaching. Most importantly, the first thing to go in the diary at the beginning of each session is our weekly lunch appointment!

Philip Sawyer, Head of Music, Napier University, Edinburgh

It is always a joy these days to meet teachers with a real interest in their students; students are in need not only of good teaching but also of a friendly face. In my experience as HoD Music in a post-1992 university, the part-time vocal and instrumental and vocal staff provided a service far and above what they were paid for; the intitution viewed them as an expensive luxury, whereas my full-time colleagues and I valued them as first points of contact with students – and with the students’ problems. I am sorry that Kathleen McKellar Ferguson was not one of my part-time colleagues; she has respect for her students, and encourages them as only one-to-one teachers can. As she demonstrates, it is possible to be friends with your students while keeping that necessary ‘distance’ from them.

Anette Kerkovius, Director of Music, All Saints College, Perth, Australia

In 2013 Kath was sponsored by the Royal Glasgow Conservatoire to be the main presenter at the Celebration of the Voice conference held at All Saint’s College, Perth, Western Australia. During this time she was also Artist in Residence at the College for a week, and presented numerous masterclasses to all the senior students. This provided Professional Development for the vocal and choral staff and inspired and extended the senior students.
I found Kath an inspirational and enthusiastic teacher who has an in depth understanding of the voice and vocal technique. She has the ability to explain technique in a very clear and down to earth way which the students could understand and identify with. She also easily diagnosed vocal problems and provided strategies to deal with them. Kath has a very caring personality and the students feel that she is genuinely interested in them as a person and as a musician. She has extensive knowledge of repertoire and knows what is appropriate for every stage of the development of the voice and the student.
Guila Tiver, Head of Voice, Elder Conservatorium, Adelaide, Australia
Kathleen McKellar Ferguson is an inspirational and dedicated voice teacher.I have had the pleasure of both observing her teaching in the studio and co-teaching with her at the RCS in Glasgow on two separate occasions now. My own students in Adelaide have also had the opportunity of benefiting from her expertise when she paid the Elder Conservatorium a short visit in 2013 as a guest teacher.
Kath is a very fine musician and a wonderfully effective singing teacher thanks to a combination of great personal warmth, technical acumen and caring humanity.
John McGonigle, Head of Music, Dollar Academy
When Kath moved back to Scotland after a highly successful singing career in London, I simply jumped at the chance of securing her services for dollar academy. Not only was I securing a wonderfully gifted teacher whose genuine warmth of personality quickly earned her the utmost respect and cooperation of both students and colleagues alike, Kath proved herself totally at ease working with singers of all ages, encouraging them to develop a deeper understanding of the repertoire they were studying in order to communicate their love of singing. An absolute star!

Heidi Pegler, Head of Singing, St Paul’s Girls School, London and “chair” of AOTOS 2018-2020.

Kath taught for several years at St Paul’s Girl’s School. She was a wonderful member of the singing team, supporting her colleagues and encouraging her students. She is a confident and hard working teacher who creates opportunities for her students ensuring their vocal development is assured. It was a pleasure to work alongside her and we continue to miss her at St Paul’s but we feel very privileged to have had her with us at all.

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

Audur Gudjohnsen, RCS 2002-2003
Freelance Singer and Teacher in Iceland.

I studied at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2002-2003 and had the privilege of having Kath as my singing teacher. She is a fantastic teacher in every way, which is not an easy job, because the teacher has so many different roles combined in one! When my days were dark and I felt as if nothing was going my way, Kath said all the right things and helped me to see the bigger picture!
Also it was very valuable for me to get a new perspective on singing and it made me realize how important it is, not to get stuck inside an invisible box in singing performance. I use a lot of the great stuff Kath tought me in my own teaching. I am now working as a singer after having finished my bachelors in singing teaching. I am a member of a few professional choirs and singing groups in Iceland and perform on daily basis at funerals, weddings and various projects. The choirs participate in competitions and concerts both in Iceland and other countries. I am doing my masters at Iceland Academy of the Arts in art teaching which I plan to finish in the fall 2016. Really miss our lessons and alway look back with a smile! Thank you dear Kathleen.

I started studying with Kathleen McKellar Ferguson when I was 19 years old. I luckily stumbled upon her as a clueless undergraduate at the RCS and didn’t realise just how lucky I was at that moment.
Kathleen has a keen ear and eye for vocal technique and will patiently work through any issues that need attention. She has experience and expertise in a wide range of styles and languages and she has a joy for singing and teaching which is thoroughly contagious. Add this to a generosity and kindness of spirit and you find a teacher who not only has the tools to improve your singing but also the spirit to inspire your art.
These days I have a thriving and international career as a soloist. I sing frequently in France with Les Arts Florissants, at the Opera Comique in Paris and with the Dunedin Consort in Scotland. Recently I have performed in La Belle Helene at the Theatre de Cahatelet, the opening concert at the new Philharmonie in Paris, Bach St John Passion with the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Camera Opera, Les Fetes Venitiennes in Paris, Caen, Toulouse and New York with Les Arts Florissants and concerts at the Ambronay and Chaise-Dieu with Les Cris de Paris and Ghislieri Musica.

Madeleine Shaw, Mezzo Soprano, RCS 2002-2005
National Opera School (London), ENORoyal Opera house Covent Garden, Welsh National Opera, La Scala, La Monnaie, Opera North

 Kath taught me for all my post graduate and masters studies at the RCS between 2002-2005. She opened my eyes to understanding what my voice could do and what it needed in order to function healthily in the outside world. With Kath’s guidance I put into place a sound technique which has enabled me to move forward and establish myself as a professional singer. As a developing artist these early years at college are pivotal as to how your voice matures in the future and, thanks to Kath I have gone on to make my living singing internationally in concert halls and opera houses. 

Louise Collett, Mezzo Soprano, 2003-2010
Opera North chorus.

I had the privilege of studying with Kath for seven years whilst at the RSAMD (now the RCS). I can honestly say that if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have made it past my first undergraduate year! Her positive attitude and outlook, attention to detail, passion for music and her firm but fair way of teaching suited me perfectly and I thrived due to the fact that I was under Kath’s tutelage.
Having been freelance in the world of opera and concert performance for the last 6 years and now doing quite a bit of teaching myself, I find myself remembering so many things from my lessons and repeating so much of the advice that Kath gave me. Kath is the master of perfect little phrases to remedy a tricky area in the voice or a moment of self doubt as all of her students past and present I’m sure will know!. “Smell the roses” and “Put the blinkers on” …to name but two! (But two of my favourites!)
My fondest memory with Kath has to be our visit to Glyndebourne together in the summer of 2006 to celebrate my graduation. We got all dolled up and my grandma made us a wonderful pic nic. We drank champagne and talked about the past four years- it’s highlights (and low-lights!). But when we sat down to watch this incredible production, no words were needed. I knew I was sharing this experience with exactly the right person. That evening confirmed to me that not only did I want to sing but I needed to sing…and a huge reason for that was thanks to Kath.

Elizabeth Key, Mezzo Soprano, RSAMD, 2003-2006:
Glyndenbourne Festival Chorus; Chorus Royal Opera House , Covent Garden.

I studied with Kath at the then RSAMD from 2003-2006, whilst studying for my post graduate diploma, Masters of Music and Masters of Opera at Alexander Gibson Opera School.
Kath is a talented, intelligent and thoughtful musician, singer and performer and anyone who had the previledge to study with Kath will be given the guidance and skills that will not only last your singing career but also your life. One of my kath quotes, of which there are many, is ‘run your own race’ reminding me to not put unnecessary pressure on myself, just be myself and do the very best I can. Kath makes high demands of her pupils which bring huge rewards from the result of hard work and dedication from both Kath and her pupils.
I reluctantly had to stop my lessons with Kath when I joined the Glyndebourne Festival Opera chorus, moving from Scotland to Sussex then going on to be a member of the chorus at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where I not only sing chorus but have also sung roles in Peter Grimes, Madame Butterfly, Suor Angelica, Die Fray one Schatten and Anna Nicole. I akso am involved in tbe tutoting with the Royal Opera Take Five Summer school. I am also a member of Covent Garden Voices, who sing at numerous corporate, fundraising and concert events as well as most recently being guests artists on a Silversea Cruise round the Mediterranean. Most recently I have began to teach and I hope that I can as much of an inspiration and tutor that Kath was for me.

Hannah Sandison , Soprano, RCS 2006-2010 
Glyndebourne Festival, Opera North.

Kath was my singing teacher for three years at the RCS. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. She worked me hard but we had so much fun, and she wasn’t afraid to top the human pyramid at one of her infamous garden parties! I’m now just starting out in the profession singing in the Glyndebourne chorus and covering a role.To this day I am constantly saying to myself “smell the roses,” “pull on the strings” and “put your blinkers on!” All famous Kath phrases which will always stay with me. Her technical expertise and support of her pupils was amazing, I will always be grateful!
After graduating from RCS in 2010 I went on to the Royal College if Music for a post graduate course and then to the Opera School. Since then I have performed concerts in the UK, Germany, Russia, Malta and Greece. I have sung roles for English Touring Opera, Opus Opera and covered at Mid Wales Opera. This summer I joined the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. I’m currently on tour and working on a Rachmaninov programme for a concert at the Pushkin house in London. A recent highlight was singing with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in Valletta. This January I’m heading to Berlin for a month long intensive German Language course! I’ve got my blinkers on and making sure I stop to smell the roses 🙂

Aileen Saunders, Soprano, RCS 2006-2012
Business Woman “CHIME” (Children Happy In Music Education).

Kath is so much more than a singing teacher to me. She is my mentor, my voice of reason and my friend. I started singing lessons with Kath in 2007 when I started at the R.S.A.M.D. and despite the fact that I had serious vocal issues Kath was always patient and positive every step of my vocal recovery.

Through hard work and determination and under Kath’s watchful eye my voice has bloomed and I am proud of the soprano I have become.
Kath is a stickler for technique and believes everything should be done properly and together we have spent years perfecting my vocal technique- and I am still learning! Both vocally and professionally I would not be where I am today without Kath’s guidance

Kath always has a motivational quote to keep you going – “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. Kath is a hard worker, and expects hard work from her students- that is why she gets such good results! Despite this Kath is the most intuitive person I know and she can understand your emotions straight away. Over the years there have been many occasions where Kath has taken one look at me and pulled me in for a big hug or taken me out for a coffee and cake! I now run a music company called Chime that specialises in early years music classes and Kath was one of the first people I turned to for help and advice when I started my business. Of course Kath was encouraging, positive but also realistic and she helped me overcome any obstacles that were in my way. I believe that Kath has had a huge positive influence on my musical career but, most importantly, we have developed a friendship that I value dearly and rely on often. The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

Brynne McLeod (Canada), Mezzo Soprano, RCS 2009-2012
Innsbruck Opera, Dresden Opera

“I studied with Kath from 2009 to 2012, both privately and as a masters student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. During this time Kath pushed me and guided me, and put up with all my hangups and stubbornness, and in the end we made huge progress on my voice and my technique.
But what’s special about Kath isn’t just what she teaches or how she teaches. It’s how much she cares. When Kath is your teacher, you know you really have someone in your corner. She will feel sad about your disappointments and get angry about your frustrations. She will give you enough pep talks to motivate a thousand football teams. And when you succeed, she won’t just be happy for you. She’ll be right there with you, overjoyed, and holding out a champagne glass to celebrate! Kath teaches with her whole heart, and I believe that is the most valuable thing a teacher can ever offer.”

Bartholomew Lawrence, Baritone, RCS 2005-2009 /2011-2013
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, Opera North Chorus.

In all my 6 years studying at the RSAMD/RCS Kath was by far the teacher I had the most connection with even over my own voice teachers. Her enthusiasm and commitment to students and their development was exceptional. She has a wonderful gift of making people feel at ease in her presence which then allows them to let you into their space that would otherwise be their barrier or protection.
This therefore allows you to work with their whole person rather than just the singer that stands in front of you. From my experience, I found Kath to be encouraging, empathetic, and nurturing during performance classes. She definitely got the best from me and she cherished those magical moments which allowed us to retain and remember them, allowing us then to apply them to future performances. Wisdom, empathy and genuine appreciation for her students and their talent and individual personality is what makes her such a wonderful and successful teacher and coach.

John Findon, Tenor, RCS Under-Graduate 2009-2013
ENO Young Artist, Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and the Opera North Chorus

During my time at the RCS I was taught by Kath. I came in as a young raw tenor with not much of a top to my voice, and was told I would be being taught by a mezzo-soprano. I was a little apprehensive. I walked into Kath’s room for my first lesson and was greeted by the most enthusiastic and warm person and personality I had seen and from then on I was hooked. For four years I was then taught by Kath, and it was the most perfect beginning to a career in opera. From a technical point of view, Kath improved my breathing and technique immensely through her teaching of “voom” and her lower back expansion which I think are two of the most important things to get as a young singer, but also and most importantly Kath made me a better singer. Her teaching about your connection with and use of text, make everything about singing better and easier and you get more out of singing than you ever could with just focusing on technique, which is something I think many teachers forget.
All through my under-graduate degree Kath gave me opportunities to perform and get better as a performer either with her in one of her Kippen concerts, or in oratorio all around Scotland and for this I will be forever grateful. Without your teacher pushing you to perform and improve you never will and Kath certainly gave all her pupils that opportunity. I am now performing roles and with the choruses at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and Opera North, and none of it would have been possible without Kath. Whether it was in a lesson, having a coffee in the Cafe Bar or tucking into my own personal lasagne and garlic bread at one of her famous parties, Kath always taught me something about singing and life. I have and will always recommend Kath as the teacher at the RCS to anyone who needs a great teacher and a great friend. Thanks Kath.

Andrew McTaggart, Baritone, RCS 2009-2013
Scottish Opera, English National Opera, Opera de Nancy.

I’ve studied with Kath since 2006 when I was studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Formally RSAMD). Over the last 8 years, Kath has provided an invaluable – a constant flow of support, technique and advice which has lead meant I have been able to enter the profession with confidence. I still return to Kath for MOTs and advice on new repertoire.

Kath was my teacher for two years at the RCS Opera School. From the very first lesson, she has been a very supportive teacher for a young singer like me at the time, working on my techniques and starting to learn big roles for the first time.
Being far away from home, I felt that I could talk to Kath about anything and I always received great love and constant support throughout my journey at RCS.
The two years of studying with Kath has been very productive technically and musically. I really appreciate all your knowledge and support which gave me the foundation to become a singer that I am today.”

Brittany Rae, Soprano, RCS 2014-2015
Freelance Singer in Canada.

In the year that I studied with Kath during my Masters degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I made leaps and bounds with my vocal technique. Kath’s concise, straightforward instruction alongside her positive, approachable personality enabled me to quickly fill in the missing links required to develop a solid, reliable vocal technique. Kath proved to not only be a brilliant technician, but also a wonderful and generous mentor and inspiration. She continuosly went above and beyond, helping me discover new opportunities and meet new contacts and by providing support as I navigated my path as a young artist. Kath constantly encouraged and inspired me to be creative and think outside the box. Upon finishing my studies, I left music college not only feeling confident in my vocal abilities, but also knowing I would always have a mentor and support system to turn to. My year studying with Kath infused me with the knowledge, confidence, inspiration and joy vital to discovering my unique path in the professional music world.

Ryan Sullivan, RCS 2011-2015
Head of Primary Music, Doha College, Qatar

I studied with Kath as an undergraduate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. As a joint bassoon and vocal studies student, Kath instinctively understood my musical interests and respected my curiosity and musicianship. She is a fine all-round musician, singer, pedagogue and pianist and this underpinned the success of lessons and the overall learning journey.
Kath is a rare breed of singing teacher who is at ease working with all voice types of any age, and she draws on this expertise in lessons to ensure free, healthy singing whilst making appropriate repertoire choices. She does not miss a trick and will immediately provide a solution to overcome vocal or musical hurdles.

As a teacher working in the class and in performance settings with students from aged 3 – 18, many of Kath’s musical and technical approaches form part of my practice as an educator. The trust that was cultivated through our student-teacher relationship allows me to achieve high quality and healthy outcomes with my own students.

Julia Daramy Williams, Soprano, RCS, 2010-2017
2018 ENO Chorus 

I have been training with Kath for six years as a student of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Kath is an excellent teacher who cares as much about your vocal development as your wellbeing. Under her tutelage, I have gained countless pearls of wisdom, not only in vocal technique but also in lessons of life. I count myself truly blessed to have her as my teacher, mentor and friend.
She certainly didn’t like to cut corners so I had to be patient but I saw results in a few months and I’m now reaping the rewards of the hard work. Kath instilled the idea in me of good, healthy vocal technique that will serve you for your life, not just for the next song or aria. My voice opened up hugely and I now have a range that I never believed I would have. I now don’t feel as tired singing as I’m doing less – because everything is now vocally in the right place. 

Kath’s technique has put me in an excellent position to move on to my next teacher as I begin my postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music; with my new teacher making comment on the fact that she thinks I’ve had very good technical training. My own personal observation is that Kath’s technique and methods know no bounds, as they are effective for both male and female voice types. I discovered this after a discussion with a tenor in my year who also studied with Kath. The tenor and I had very similar technique but Kath still tailored her methods to suit our individual needs.
Further to this, Kath was a really great friend to me throughout my undergraduate. She invests a huge amount of support and care to her pupils and she was always there for me in hard times, musical and personal. She throws a great party for her students and is always a phone call away. For anyone considering a consultation lesson with Kath I say to them… you will not be disappointed!
Kath is a truly inspirational teacher, mentor and friend and I would highly recommended her to anyone wanting to develop their voice and explore the world of singing.

Samantha Quillish, Soprano, RCS 2013-2017
Independent Opera, RAM Opera School (2017-2020)

‘I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be half the musician I am today without the amazing guidance, knowledge and passion that I was lucky enough to gain from having Kath as my teacher. I started my journey with Kath during my undergraduate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland when I was 18. For four years she helped me understand what it means to be a genuine and supportive colleague as well as a vocally healthy and passionate singer. Kath has a deep and honest understanding of both the physical techniques and psychological battles that one has to experience on the road to becoming a professional artist. After four years of inspirational lessons with Kath I have come away with quotes for every situation, a personal favourite being ‘blinkers on!’. Kath not only encouraged me to work hard and develop as an operatic soprano, but also helped me to approach training with positivity without getting too bogged down when things don’t go to plan!’

Erin McCrystal, Soprano, Freelance Singer & Teacher, RCS 2016-2018
Freelance singer and teacher

I first met Kathleen when I was completing my Post-Graduate Diploma in Perth, Australia. After one lesson with Kathleen my voice changed dramatically and I knew I had to have her as my teacher. After moving from Australia to Scotland to study, Kathleen not only helped me grow as a musician but also helped me through the challenges of moving countries and missing home. She is to me more than just a singing teacher and anyone who has the chance to work with her is very lucky indeed.

Studying on the Royal Conservatoire Scotland Opera Course is rewarding and also quite challenging at times. Kath, who guided me through my studies from 2015 to 2017, provided a balance of discipline and support. Many of Kath’s students are impressive singers and equally warm-hearted colleagues which I feel is a reflection of Kath’s fine teaching and compassionate personality.

Charlotte Heslop, Mezzo Soprano, RCS 2014-2018.

Kath is brilliant. I’ve learnt so much from her already in a relatively short space of time, but in particular she has helped me to really understand how to work on my own in the practice room so that I can trust what I am doing between lessons. She also encourages students to sit in on each others lessons and doing this not only I have learned a great deal about teaching but I’ve been able to see that she really takes the time to ensure that each of her students is doing what works specifically for them and their own voice.
This care and dedication to each of her students applies both in and out of lessons and it has really helped me to have a teacher that I can talk to about life outside the practice room too; it means I trust her that much more during lessons. I would wholeheartedly recommend Kath to anyone looking for a teacher.

Lisa Willems, Mezzo Soprano, RCS 2017-2019
Young Artist, Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels

I studied with Kath for my Masters degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. During those two years I was already working in the field and therefore I did a lot of traveling. Kath was always very warm and welcoming and flexible for my ever changing schedule! We worked very hard on the technical issues I had but she also tought me that it is very important to take time to recover and rest and have fun in life. Kath is such a warm person who wants the best for her pupils. She has a lot of knowledge and knows that it pays of to be kind in this world. Whenever I’m in Scotland now I try to go and see her for a lesson and a chat which is always a great experience!
Lisa Willems is a Belgian soprano. She is a young artist at the Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels where she has performed in Lohengrin (Edelknabe 2), Dialogues des Carmelites (cover for Mère Marie), Der Rosenkavalier (Eine Modistin), a show for young audiences called Frankenstein (The Mother), in lunchtime recitals (Zemlinsky’s Maiblumen blüthen überall, young artist recital), and in Masterclasses. 

Other engagements include Odysseus’ Women + Anaïs Nin (Andriessen) in het Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ in Amsterdam, L’enfant et Les Sortilèges (Ravel) in Bozar in Brussels and a tour of Diary of one who disappeared (Janacek/Van Parys) through Europe.

Karina Bailey, Soprano, RCS 2018 – 2020
Young Artist South Australian Opera

I am not exaggerating when I say that working with Kathleen has changed my life. I first had a lesson with her years ago when she visited my home town in Australia, and it was that lesson that sparked a huge shift in my life path – my move to the UK to study with her further at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Kath is not only a world class technician and has transformed my singing, but she is a caring and supportive soul and over the past two years has enabled me to feel safe and capable of achieving my absolute best. My improvement as an artist has been dramatic thanks to her, and I finally feel ready to head out into the professional opera world.

PRE-COLLEGE STUDENTS

Juliet Montgomery, Soprano 2007-2009: Graduate of RNCM.

I began studying with Kath in 2007 during my fifth year at High School and her enthusiasm, guidance and dedication inspired me to pursue a career in singing! Kath’s strong emphasis on good vocal technique improved my voice significantly during our time together and her attention to other aspects of performance, such as language, delivery and interpretation, has proved invaluable. I found Kath to be a brilliant teacher who combined imaginative analogies with her vast knowledge of repertoire and performance experience to deliver highly engaging lessons. Under Kath’s tuition I successfully auditioned for an undergraduate place at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2009 and I am now continuing my studies at the RNCM on the Masters of Music course. I strongly believe that I would not be the singer I am now if I had not studied with Kath at such an important point in my vocal journey.
Kath is a truly inspirational teacher, mentor and friend and I would highly recommended her to anyone wanting to develop their voice and explore the world of singing.

Marcus Swietlicki, 2013-2017: Currently Undergrad RCS.

I have always sung for as long as I can remember! I used to go along to toddler music sessions and was even singing then! The seeds were firmly planted for my love of singing when I was offered a place in the National Boys Choir at the age of 11 as a boy alto.
I now have a growing tenor voice and was offered a place in the National Youth Choir of Scotland at the age of 15 to be taken up when I became 16. One of the most exciting performances I have been involved in so far was singing a solo and performing alongside students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at one of Kath’s Classics at Kippen concerts when I was 15. Another amazing experience was singing a full solo as a tenor with the National Boys Choir Changed Voices in front of a packed Glasgow Royal Concert Hall!
Kath always makes me feel relaxed as well as motivated in lessons and I feel so lucky to have her as my teacher and
to be receiving world class coaching in such a happy and welcoming learning environment.Her passionate and expert teaching approach is second to none and I have learned so much since my first lesson 3 years ago.I know that Kath will guide me and help me to accomplish my life ambition to go to music college and become a professional opera singer. My dream would be to win prestigious competitions and perform at the Metrapolitan Opera House! Who knows maybe they will come true!

PRIVATE STUDENTS

Marianne Cotterill, Soprano
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

I have known Kathleen Ferguson since 1985 where we met as students at the RCM. Already then I became aware that Kathleen was a superb performer with an excellent singing technique. Kathleen has a vast knowledge of languages, styles, repertoire as well as history and she is a wonderful musician, also on the piano, being an equally accomplished pianist. At college it became clear just how musically discerning, reliable and trustworthy she was both in rehearsals and performances, qualities that I am sure have stood her extremely well in her successful solo career.In 1995 our paths crossed again when we both studied singing with the late Margaret Hyde. After Margaret passed away in 2010, I was at a loss to find a good teacher whose method would be compatible with Margaret’s amazing legacy.

As I had heard that Kathleen was now a highly respected teacher, who I knew had also valued her time with Margaret, I decided to contact her. And I am so glad that I did. We had a dozen lessons, both in London and Scotland, from which I benefitted immensely. Sadly the geographical distance between us didn’t permit me to continue, however, I still cherish all that Kathleen taught me. With her I have been able to continue building on a solid technique which has never let me down. She also works on connecting the resonators with a strong support allowing the voice to emerge freely to it’s full range and capacity all whilst keeping it’s pitch and own individual timbre. Kathleen gives herself 100% in her lessons and has a lovely, kindhearted and clear way of explaining her thoughts and advice. She is also so dedicated to her pupils and their vocal wellbeing and development that she will personally create specific exercises for them to help them tackle a particular difficulty.
What makes Kathleen stand out for me from other teachers is her unique knack at hearing with great accuracy how the singer is producing their sound and how to successfully rectify any possible problems. This is always done with tremendous insight, intuition, warmth and a wicked sense of humour. I really miss our lessons together! I cannot recommend Kathleen Ferguson highly enough as a teacher.

Jane McMurrich

I have enjoyed singing lessons with Kath since 2002!! (I think I am her longest standing private pupil since she moved back to Scotland from London!!) Whatever mood I arrive in, I always leave feeling relaxed and energised, with my enthusiasm for singing rekindled. Kath shares her extensive experience and knowledge of technique in a patient, understanding and fun way. She is happy to help with all types of singing I want to tackle, from opera to musicals. Over those years, boyfriends have come and gone, a husband has been married, a baby has grown into a girl, and Kath has expertly kept alive my passion for singing.

Marguerite Galloway, RSNO Chorus

There is never a dull moment in a singing lesson with Kath. I started being taught by her several years ago with the hope that one or two small issues might get sorted and that my performance in the chamber choir and large national chorus that I sing with might improve.
Since then my confidence has grown, my vocal range has been extended and I have been introduced to repertoire that I thought was way beyond my capabilities. Lessons are an absolute delight and Kath ticks all the boxes. There is a big physical element needed to improve technique and I have found myself throwing balls in the air,balancing on a yoga ball or standing on one leg in order to ‘feel’ what is going on in the body! Best of all though is Kath’s incredible emotional intelligence and insight that leads to a deeper understanding of the music and brings out the very best in the students.

Elizabeth Pitts, RSNO Chorus

I have been having lessons with Kath for nearly four years. I am a retired health worker and now one of the joys in my life is singing in the R.S.N.O. Chorus. When the Chorus Director accepted me into the RSNOC, he recommended that I should go to Kath for lessons to improve my singing technique.
I visit her warm and welcoming home every few weeks for an hour’s lesson. I so enjoy this opportunity to work on the fundamentals: breathing and posture, vocal exercises, she explains it all clearly. She has introduced me to some lovely songs, in which pronunciation, phrasing, trying to evoke the feeling of the song – the detail, but also the whole. Kath is encouraging and positive – and patient! It is a pleasure and a privilege to learn with Kath and to benefit from her great experience.

Kath helped me realise my voice.
After years, nay decades, of singing ‘nicely’ but never on my own, I wanted to get into the RSNO. I reckoned I needed help to get through an audition, so I went to Kath on the recommendation of a friend not realising the range and depth of her experience.
Being lovely, Kath told me I had a nice voice but I wasn’t using it properly which was the perfect combination of encouragement and nudge / poke with a sharp stick which I needed to improve. I was shocked at how little I knew about how to sing well – about posture, about breathing – in and out, using the eyes, achieving presence. And I thought it was just having good pitch!
Many hours later, of standing – properly!, breathing down to the diaphragm, expelling, swooping and diving, I reached the point where – as long as I did everything I’d learned, the new muscle memory, I barely recognised my own, yes glorious, sound. And I got into the RSNO and then into the Edinburgh Festival Chorus as an occasional augmentor. And I can sing on my own now even though it wouldn’t be my first choice.
Years on, I still value a refresher lesson and the chance to hone those skills, and even to reflect on the challenge to any performer to handle and communicate the meaning of a piece of music without losing it.
Kath is a delight to learn with. I consider myself very lucky.

Kathy O’Donnell, Cor-Us Productions. Edinburgh

A really great teacher not only has mastery of the technical, physical and artistic process, but of the psychology that underpins it all and the ability to bring all of these elements into clear focus for the benefit of the student.
That’s Kath. She’s phenomenal.

June Thomas, RSNO Chorus

Kath is a most inspiring teacher. My singing has improved immensely and every lesson is uplifting both physically and mentally. She has done wonders for my confidence at auditions and she has undoubtedly extended my singing ‘shelf life’.

Helen Hyland, RSNO Chorus

“I knew of Kath first as a singer rather than a teacher. A concert she and friends gave at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling some years ago simply blew us all away. But she was a singer of international repute, and I just sang for fun, so I couldn’t ever see that our paths would cross. A few years later, I began to take my singing more seriously: so seriously, that I joined one of Scotland’s best choirs. I passed the audition, but soon realised that I would need to continue to work hard to keep my place there. It is the best choir I have ever been in, and I want to sing with them forever – hence the need for lessons.

I sought recommendations from singing friends and then went for trial lessons with a number of local teachers. Kath’s reputation went before her, so it took me a while to pluck up courage to approach her for a trial. I wasn’t sure that someone held in such high esteem in the music world would want to spare time to teach an amateur like me. I am so glad I did. She made me so welcome that I immediately relaxed and wanted to sing my very best for her. It felt like I had come home. Singing with her is a joy – she celebrates my successes as if they were her own. She often makes me laugh but her lessons are no walk in the park, she pushes me hard. The lessons are full, so full that recording them is vital – I spend hours going over the recordings afterwards, listening and re-listening to everything she said. I am so glad to be able to call her my teacher and I feel that my voice is better and stronger than it has ever been, which is thanks in no small part to Kath’s tutorship.”