I studied voice with Laurece West for three years. Two things set Laurece apart from every other music teacher I've had. One is that she absolutely loves to teach. Her devotion to teaching shows up in her amazing patience and in her ability to begin with students where they are. Two is that she teaches not just voice but the whole person, treating the spiritual and the vocal in tandem. She works with you to eliminate your limiting beliefs and to free up your spontaneity. Indeed, I found myself drawing on Laurece's approach and techniques in my own work as a teacher. Your lessons will be not just about improving your voice but about coming to see whole new possibilities for yourself.
Writer, editor, and writing teacher
"I don’t necessarily see myself ever doing professional singing. It’s not really my goal. My goal is actually singing for balance because it makes me feel good. One of the things I like about our morning lessons is that it starts out my day and puts me in a good place and a good mood and I feel happier the rest of the day."
Sarah Macy, Creative Artist, Sheffield, MA
Since taking nine months of voice lessons with Laurece, I’ve noticed a huge change in my approach toward singing and performing. The most significant concept I learned was how to stay on my larynx, which wasn’t easy to teach because it required replacing lifelong physical habits with completely new ones. Yet Laurece was able to help me visualize and experience this concept. The change that occurred was exhilarating, and I still use her techniques when practicing on my own.
Working with Laurece also transformed my perspective on self-expression and movement. Laurece uses multiple exercises to help students develop both technique and artistry. For technique, we got a lot of mileage out of the materials (notes, CDs, practice sheets and an excellent vocal exercise book). For artistry, she walked me through routines before and after singing to promote body awareness, relaxation, and self-expression. I credit these methods for improving my public speaking skills and, by extension, my personal and professional growth.
The lessons themselves were well organized, striking a good balance between structure and looseness. Laurece’s energetic, positive and patient personality allows students to take risks, be silly, and engage themselves in their performance. She truly cares about students’ emotional and physical well-being and is often more than just a vocal coach. I’m glad I had the chance to work with her and hope this testimonial encourages others to as well!
Irene Liu, Grad Student, Durham, NC
"Before I met Laurece I was writing songs and holding performances in my piano room...except that the door was shut, no one was home, and the only person in the audience...was me. One of my biggest issues with singing has been lack of confidence, fear of judgment and inconsistencies in my technique. One day I'd feel like I could sing perfectly, and the next day, it was like I've never sang a day in my life before! Since music is my passion and songwriting is my favorite way to express myself, I knew that I needed to nurture this talent of mine and find someone who could help me reach my potential.
And this is where Laurece came in! Not only has she been an incredible vocal coach, but she has been a wonderful mentor who supports and appreciates my love for music. Laurece and her voice lessons have inspired many breakthroughs for me, not just musically, but personally as well.
One of my greatest achievements thus far has been my new found ability to improve overall quality of my singing and speaking voice. Laurece has helped me create an awareness of how I'm using my voice in everyday life, and with some hard work and dedication to strengthening and protecting it, my once raspy voice has strength and power!
I look forward to continue working with Laurece and to one day maybe find myself, sharing my music for all to hear!"
Singer/Songwriter/Pianist, Durham, NC
Starting New with Each Breath
Published on ADDitudeMag.com
It's the fulfillment of a childhood dream that — until now — was secreted into the furthest reaches of my tender heart. After my Big Birthday, though, I decided it was now or never. I chose now.
And I'm struggling. Not to stay on key — I've always been able to do that fairly well. No, it's "singing the vowels on my larynx" that has me befuddled. I can't do it. And when I accidentally find that place in my throat, I can't stay there in the midst of "ohs" and "oohs" and "ahs." Worse, I can't even tell when I've done it correctly.
It's frustrating to say the least and a test of my ADHD impatience.
But Laurece, my singing teacher, keeps smiling. She tells me that no one ever taught me to sing as they taught me to walk and talk, that everyone starts this way, that it's a process of unlearning before re-learning. More importantly, she says that there are unlimited opportunities to relax and literally find my voice.
"On your very next breath, you can try again," she says gently, when she notes my exasperation. "You get to start over in the next phrase, and in the next one after that."
Hmm. I have another chance to do it right. Lots of chances, in fact. It sounds perfectly logical but such easy self-acceptance has been missing in action for most of my adult life. Probably all of it, to be frank.
My internal censor rarely gives me permission to make mistakes, which certainly inhibits learning. I pride myself on my open mind and willingness to accept imperfection in others. But I don't make the same allowances for myself. I am impatient and angry when I don't catch on as quickly as I expect. Out the window goes self-compassion. In come criticism and self-judgment, those familiar ADHD sidecars.
To show up, lesson after lesson, with my vowels skipping past my larynx (a word I have consistently mispronounced; it's lair-rinks instead of lair-nix) bruises my ego. But singing isn't about ego. It's about structure and soft sighs and clear tones. And I always have another chance to get it right. Always.
So I stick with it, trusting Laurece to guide my vowels (and eventually my consonants) toward a better voice. It's a love-hate lesson. It's a love-hate Linda. And for now, she always gets another chance to do it right.
Does your internal censor rein you in even when you ache to try something new? How compassionate are you to yourself compared to your compassion for others? What voice do you call on to calm your fears?
Linda Roggli, Durham, NC
“I think of you and your gifts to me often, and I have wanted so very much to write a letter to you thanking you for your time and consideration, for your sincerity and interest, for your kindness and the way that it touched my life. To give something of worth and weight to the words "thank you," to show where you made the difference. You continue to make a difference each time I think of you. It was a sanctuary to me...I know that I was a student and that I paid for your time, but you went to such lengths it always seemed to me to make me feel as though I counted, that my existence in the world mattered and had meaning. Your interaction with me was a gift. You were unconditional with me. When I think of you, I believe that maybe people can be and can treat each other as though there is a G-d, as though there is hope, as though there is Love, and not fail because of it but be the stronger for it.”
Alison Work, Stockbridge, MA
"When I first started lessons I was scared to come and see you. It was a breakthrough for me to say, “I’m going to take lessons and sing in front of you.” I was scared, but I sang in front of you. Now I have sung for all my friends and I have even done karaoke.
Singing has also helped me come out of my shell more. When I would plan social gatherings I would make it so everyone else could talk. Now I am much better and can be in the spotlight a little.
Lastly, I remember the song that I picked for my first lesson was “Walking on the Moon” by The Police. I could not hit the notes. Now I can sing that song, I can definitely hit the notes, and I can even sing higher ones. I have more range, better resonance and a nicer tone."
(Then recently on June 1, 2019., Elise wrote...) The process of taking singing lessons did a lot of good things for me - It helped me with my confidence for sure. And I learned a lot from you outside of the realm of singing. You got me to try chiropractic and it has helped my neck problems and you talked about yoga, which I wound up trying and I found a whole realm of reading related to spirituality through it that has done amazing things for me.
Elise Gallivan, Graphic Artist, Cary, NC
"I am so thankful that I chose to receive vocal training from Laurece. I spent over 50 years singing the wrong way. Laurece helped me to understand how to sing with ease. She is so patient and considerate. Laurece works with you right where you are vocally and from that place she helps you to build yourself vocally, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I did not just receive vocal training; I received growth as a whole person with Laurece. I will always be grateful for the time and attention that was given to me. I am more confident as a singer and as a person! Thanks Laurece!"
Teresa Johnson Co-Pastor of Zion Christian Center, Roxboro, NC
Laurece West Studios
"Laurece is an amazing voice instructor! I've had the honor of studying with her for the past four years and have seen tremendous growth both personally and vocally as a result. Highly recommended!"
Antje Radtke, Worship Singer, Apex, NC
"I really enjoyed working with Laurece. Before I started taking lessons with her I had a variety of confidence issues around my singing and hadn't sung since High School. I was a junior in college and a Dramatic Art major so I knew I had to get my 'mojo' back and work on my voice! Laurece is a very kind and accepting teacher who has the unique ability to push you while being endlessly supportive. She's fun too! I am now in my senior year of college and taking an audition seminar. We recently had to do a mock Musical Theatre audition and I am proud to say that it went well! I would not have been able to do it without the foundations Laurece taught me and her guidance last year. Thank you Laurece"
Isabelle Francke, University of North Carolina
Training for Professional Singing & Career Invigorating Speaking™
"I am writing to you thank you for all you did for me as a student. Of all the voice teachers I have had over the years I felt the best connection with you and I wanted to express my gratitude. Best all you always BELIEVED in me and I am eternally grateful."
Dailin Davila, Boston, MA
"I really enjoy Brianna's mood and how uplifted and happy she is after doing these lessons with you. You make a great impact on her! Thanks for everything!"
Christy Gracia, Bahama, NC