It’s never too late to follow your dreams…

A testimonial from Angie Neale:

When I reached for the envelope my husband had left for me under the tree on that crisp Christmas morning, I had no idea how profoundly its contents would change my life.

I was emerging from a long debilitating illness which had left me housebound for over 16 years. My confidence was low, my self-esteem even lower, and going out at all had seemed like a terrifying prospect. During those long tough years music was one of the few things which had sustained me, listening to it or singing along and, when I was too ill to do either, just lying still and letting the music play inside my head.

It had always been a dream of mine to be able to sing, but I had never dared to believe that it could become a reality. But all that was about to change, because when I opened that Xmas envelope what I found was a gift voucher for singing lessons with someone whose voice I loved and admired, the fab singer Rachel More. I was simultaneously ecstatic and terrified.

Angie Neale

It took me 2 months before I could pluck up the courage to actually pick up the phone and book the lessons, and when the day finally came and I stood before Rachel I was visibly trembling.

I didn’t read music – what if that was a problem? It wasn’t. What if the truth was I really couldn’t sing at all? It wasn’t. What if she thought I was too old? She didn’t. I needn’t have worried at all. Rachel’s warmth, irrepressible smile and kind understanding of my fears put me at ease straight away, and her professionalism told me immediately that I was in good hands. I was hooked.

The first thing Rachel showed me was that I was not the ‘failed soprano’ I had always believed myself to be, but was in fact ‘an alto’, and that when I sang within my own range I was able to achieve things I had always thought impossible for me.

During the sessions which followed she taught me how to breathe correctly and what a difference this could make to the sound, tone and range of my voice. She helped me to discover that my singing range itself was not a fixed entity and that it was possible, through vocal exercises and practice, to extend it which gave me a greater choice of material to work with.

Eventually something rather miraculous happened. Another ‘voice’ seemed to come out when I sang. It was different to the sound I was used to hearing. At first, it felt weird, until I realised it was coming from somewhere deep down within me. It was ME! It wasn’t a copy of someone I had listened to, but this was the real authentic me! The whole experience brought me an intense sense of joy, and I told Rachel “you’ve opened a door for me – that has never been open before.”

I began to perform, starting in a safe place – at my birthday party, and astounded my family and friends. (I had kept my lessons secret!) Then step by step I moved into singing in public. Rachel never pressured me to perform, it was more that the opportunity was there if I wanted to take it.

With Rachel’s encouragement and support I went on to sing at many music venues and also took part in Bournemouth Food and Drink Festival, Bournemouth Jazz Festival and Jazz by the Sea events. 

One of the most important lessons I learnt during my time studying with Rachel was that it’s not about how far you get, or whether or not you choose to perform – it’s about finding your own voice and feeling the sheer joy of expressing it in whatever way you choose.

Music is for everyone. It belongs to us all.

It would have been so easy for me not to have made that call to book the lessons, to have given in to the doubts and fears and all those inner undermining messages. I’m so glad I faced them down – and did it anyway!

Because I’ve gained so much. My self-confidence and self esteem have grown and I have regained my sense of self – the person I used to be before my long illness – and I now have ‘a life’ again. One of the greatest gifts Rachel gave me was to go on believing in me long before I learnt to truly believe in myself. And for that I will always be grateful.

My advice to anyone who is thinking of signing up for lessons with Rachel and who may be wrestling with similar doubts and fears is “just go for it”. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering… On that fateful Christmas morning when I opened the envelope I was 75 years old.

Now, 3 years later, I am 78, and I’ve just recorded a 15 track CD  called ‘Round Midnight’. I’m donating all the proceeds to a charity very dear to my heart called Life for African Mothers. So, not only have I got my life back, but I have also been able to use my voice to help others.

Believe me, it’s never too late to follow your dreams….

Angie Neale

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