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Try out a taster class in everything from gospel singing to dancing like a diva at a creative and performing arts academy in central London

Students at City Academy during a singing class. Picture: Copyright of City Academy Students at City Academy during a singing class. Picture: Copyright of City Academy

Saturday, January 11, 2014
11:30 AM

I’ve always envied those who have the ability to sing in key – something I’ve never been able to do.

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I’ve always envied those who have the ability to sing in key – something I’ve never been able to do.

One of my most humiliating moments as a teenager was turning up to join the under-resourced school choir and being told by the music teacher that I should practice singing along with the radio and come back in several months. Needless to say, I never went back.

Years later a friend ‘let’ me sing at Scotland’s music festival T in the Park, only because the musicians and other concert-goers would drown me out.

So it was with great trepidation and nervousness that I turned up for a free beginner’s singing taster class run by City Academy at Sadler’s Well Theatre in Rosebery Avenue, Finsbury.

However, I shouldn’t have worried. Singing teacher Jamie Anderson reassured the 30-strong group that we should not feel inhibited about what sounds we were emitting unless we were causing ourselves “physical pain”.

He proceeded to take us through a range of fun singing exercises. But, far from needing to sound like Celine Dion, we emitted noises that sounded like trains or planes about to land.

All of these were designed to help us understand how our voices worked.

We were then asked to sing Happy Birthday while taking on a variety of personas – pretending to be bratty teenagers who didn’t want to be at a birthday party, and then in whiny voices pretending we were kids who were upset that it wasn’t our birthday.

It was a lot of fun, but more importantly achieved its goal of making me shed my anxiety about my singing voice.

I then went on to a gospel singing taster class which was fabulous. Class teacher Abdul Shyllon gave a brief overview of how gospel music had evolved and how it was the forerunner to jazz and soul. We performed two songs called Hold On and He Calmed The Ocean in which we were split into two groups and worked on different harmonies.

Before long we were all swaying and clicking our fingers in time to the music, and I left feeling uplifted.

These are just two of the exciting and downright different classes offered by City Academy, which is based in Mount Pleasant Lane, Islington.

The creative and performing arts academy offers a range of dance, acting, musical theatre, screen acting, film-making, photography and life skill classes across central London locations such as Liverpool Street and West End theatres.

Some of the quirkier classes include a ‘diva’ dance class where you can get in touch with your inner Beyonce and a sitcom writing course where you learn how to create your own characters.

They also offer the opportunity to take a dance course where you can perform in a show at a leading theatre.

n So if you want to learn a new skill, book yourself into one of the free taster classes running this month. Visit

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