SINGING WITH YOUR EARS
Debbie is a self-taught singer. When she was 14, she took a few lessons with a neighbourhood singing teacher mostly to learn how to breathe. From then on Debbie learned by “listening and matching”.
She found the car radio especially valuable for this technique: when an artist came on the radio, Debbie would listen intently, and try to match the phrasing, pitch, licks and even the tone of their voice. The car was a perfect environment, because she could hear her voice bouncing back at her, along with the voice of the artist, in the small confined space. Satisfaction was always achieved when the blend between the two voices was so perfect that neither voice could be deciphered, and the blend was like one voice.
Debbie used this technique to learn R&B - her favourite artists being singers such as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and RayCharles – and country music: Dolly Parton, with her exquisite shimmery voice, and subtle licks, Emmy-Lou Harris, George Jones et al. As Debbie incorporated the styles of her vocal heros, she added some of her own “stuff” to it all, and came up with her own sound.
As part of the Mendelssohn Choir, Debbie would try and emulate the sounds ofthe great singers she sat beside, or who soloed with the choir – especially the gorgeous pure voice of Kathleen Battle.
When Debbie sings, there is never a thought to “technique” – how her diaphragm is placed, or whether her cheeks are lifted or her tongue is placed properly. Her sound is her guide to singing properly. Thus Debbie is “singing with her ears.”
Debbie began accepting students in 2003, and she developed some warm-up exercises and techniques which she imparted to her students. Instilling confidence was one of her most valued missions, as well as helping them to sing in a more relaxed manner. Debbie is a big fan of the “blended voice” – with microphones being used in pop music, it is not necessary to oversing in order to relay a sense of power to your audience.
Debbie Fleming accepts a limited roster of singing students – mostly as a vocal coach. Interested students may contact Debbie by emailing Debbie Fleming.
Debbie has taught group courses in SIGHT SINGING AND EAR TRAINING, incorporating the techniques she taught herself when she was singing backup vocals on the Ronnie Prophet Show. On the days the show was taped, as many as 4 artists from Nashville would arrive in the morning presenting up to 4 songs each for singers and the band to learn, and perform for cameras the same night. Debbie invented a “number system” which she later learned is a similar system used by session singers and players in Nashville. Similar to the Sohl-fege technique, but substituting the numbers of the scale for doh mi and soh (1, 3, 5) , this number system is a great aid to all sight singing and reading.
Her sight singing courses cover basic theory, note values, intervals, and group singing both with music and “head charts”, and is of great value to those singing in studios, and in choirs.