Ali Heath Cook

I cannot remember a time when I did not sing. I can remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee, next to the fire and singing songs from the 1920’s. Irving Berlin’s song Alexander’s Ragtime Band was one of my favourites.

I had my first singing lesson when I was 8 years old. My singing teacher seemed really old and reminded me of the bad witch in The Wizard of Oz. She scarred me. She made me sing songs with words that I could not understand. Songs that meant nothing to me. Scales and arpeggios, which had no significance to anything I wanted to sing for pleasure. I often cried in her lessons.

Then in my early teens, I discovered Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon was never off my record player and it was then that I realised why I had to sing scales and arpeggios. The track on that album that changed my outlook on singing was ‘Great Gig In The Sky’. I thought, “This woman’s singing scales! I don’t have to be an opera singer after all. I can be in a rock band and sing scales. I can scream, I can sing out loud or I can sing in a whisper. Just like her!” My singing teacher hated the track and told me I would be a classical singer and would never sing with a band.

In 1990, a singer in a local band was struggling to reach certain notes in one of his songs and I said, “Why don’t you try doing this”. All the years of having singing lessons suddenly came flooding back. The scales and arpeggios that haunted me as a kid, the breathing exercises, now made sense. I enjoyed giving that person the answer to his problems. Unlocking the door on something that had been trapped inside for so many years. That was when I decided to be a singing tutor, but with one difference. I felt that there wasn’t a tutor around at that time who was teaching in the way that I would have wanted to have been taught.

Singing is fun, singing can be a spiritual experience, and singing is a release. My philosophy has always been that, “If you leave my lesson without a smile on your face, then I have failed”. Like me, most of my pupils will cry during a lesson, but not from frustration or anger or from being shouted at because they got something wrong. But, because they felt that they had achieved something that they never dreamed could be possible, or simply because they were moved by the lyrics of a song.

You do not have to be technically good to be a great singer. I would much rather hear someone sing a song completely out of tune if they sang it from their heart, than hear someone sing a song technically correct but with no emotion or feelings for it.

Teaching and singing is my life and my passion. I also work as a session musician, singing on other people’s records, and have made adverts for European T.V. and cinema. I work regularly as an actor and made my first feature length film in 2006.

Ali Guitar.2

Both singing and acting have always played a major part in my life. In 1987, I set up a
Theater Company with a group of graduates and toured the country with our own devised work, commissioned pieces, workshops and plays. Being a performer, not only as an actress, but as a singer too, I know what it’s like to have stage fright and to be nervous when recording or playing in front of an audience. Most of all I know what it takes to get over those nerves and make every performance special. To have the feeling that my whole body is singing out. I teach because I want everyone to have that magical feeling of confidence.

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