City Lit Blog

Choosing a singing class at City Lit

Story added 5th Sep 2017

This post aims to guide you through the process of choosing a singing course that’s right for you.

Choosing a singing course at city lit

Welcome to City lit. Here in the heart of Covent Garden we run a full range of music courses suitable for complete beginners right through to experienced performers.

Having so many courses can make finding the right course for you slightly bewildering, so before you read any further please remember you can call us on 020 7492 2630, email us or come to an advice session if you want to speak/sing to us for help.

With that in mind, the following blog post aims to guide you through the process of choosing a singing course that’s right for you.

NB: if any of the course-links display a ‘page not found’ message, it means we don’t have another instance of that course programmed into the website at the moment. Just contact the music office to join our waiting list and we’ll let you know as soon as the next class is planned.

Group Learning

Learning in a group is great fun. You will find lively discussion, group and individual exercises, and good company in your class. Beginners classes are limited to 16 people. Foundation and Intermediate singing classes are limited to 14, and Advanced classes to 12. If your class includes a solo-singing element you should expect to sing solo every other week

The full sequence of singing classes at City lit (a quick guide)

Please note that we offer multiple class-times: use the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the course-outline to choose the correct time before you enrol.

Getting started

You must be able to pitch notes with accuracy. Ideal for beginners to music notation. By pitching notes we mean that if you hear a note on the piano you can sing that same note back with your voice.

Detailed help

if you have trouble pitching notes reliably then we have two smaller workshops that offer a focus on these skills:

Foundation level classes

Grade 1-3 standard. Gain a good foundation from a classically-trained singing teacher. The focus is classical music at this stage, but these courses are also suitable for singers who wish to persue other style at a later date. You will sing occasional solos in class and should be learning to read basic music notation alongside these lessons:


If you prefer Rock, Pop, Soul or Jazz styles of music you may wish to take Rock, pop and soul singing 1 after Singing for beginners, or Jazz singing 1 after Basic technique for singing or after Develop your singing technique.


Grade 4-5 standard. You are expected to learn the notes of your pieces on your own and come to class prepared to work on technique and interpretation. There is a strong emphasis on singing in foreign languages:


Grade 6 repertoire and higher with auditioned entry. You will be expected to prepare your music, pronunciation and interpretation in your own time so that you can present pieces masterclass style during the lesson and be ready to respond to interpretative ideas:

Our classes described in more detail:

Singing: Getting started

If you are an absolute beginner then we have several  great options for you:

These courses will offer you a comfortable and supportive atmosphere in which to learn:

  • Vocal warm ups,

  • An introduction to breathing and good posture for singers,

  • Familiarity with singing confidently in time and in tune.

You don’t need to read music, but you will be encouraged to sing words from printed music and to try to follow along as you get used to it. If you have never read music before, we recommend you supplement your singing class with Musicianship 1: listening and reading, pitch and rhythm.

Beginners should study at this level for a whole year (three course modules) before moving on to the Foundation level. Your teacher will advise you when it is time to change level, and/or you may come to an advice session, where you can sing us a piece and we’ll help you choose your next class.


Foundation levels

The vocal technique training and repertoire on our Foundation courses is classical in essence, but the technique you will learn is designed to provide you with the skills needed to progress to workshops in all singing styles.

For Foundation level classes you should have a good sense of your voice-type (how high or low you like to sing), feel comfortable singing basic tunes, and feel ready to sing occasional solos in front of the class. Throughout our three years of foundation level tuition you will be required to learn the notes and words of your music in your own time so that you come to class with something prepared to sing so that time in class can focus on your vocal development, not just getting the notes right. For this reason we strongly recommend that you consider one of our musicianship courses.

Foundation should be taken in the order listed. They are limited to 14 singers per class and are taught by both a singing teacher and a professional accompanist. Over the three modules per year you will continue to work on group warm-ups and technical exercises but the focus will gradually shift to preparing solo songs to sing in front of the group, starting by singing in English and branching out to Italian, German and French songs when you are ready.

Basic technique for singing: module 1/ module 2 / module 3

Develop your singing technique: module 1 / module 2 / module 3

Consolidate your singing technique: module 1 / module 2 / module 3


You will need to buy your own music books (or borrow from London libraries such as Barbican Music Library and Westminster  Music Library) so please budget for an extra £12 (approx.) per term. And if you go to our local independent bookshop, Foyles, as a City lit student you will get a 10% discount: just show proof of your course enrolment at the music checkout counter.

Where possible the relevant books are listed on each course outline. Please read this carefully before you book.

Choosing the right level for returning singers

If you have had singing tuition before, you don’t need to start at the very beginning: just  join us at the correct level for you.

Please check the individual course outlines for more details of the books you are requested to buy for each class as this will give you the most clear indication of the level of a class. If you have any doubts at all, please come to an advice session. Bring some music, sing us a piece and we’ll help you choose.

Changing classes

If you choose the wrong class you may transfer immediately to a different course; just email the music office and explain your reasons. NB: Transfers may only take place before the third session of a course.

If you begin to find the level is unsuitable later on in your course then don’t panic, there will still be plenty to learn but you can choose a more appropriate module the next term. That’s the idea of the short course modules; they allow flexibility because everyone learns at different speeds.

If you have any doubts at all, please come to an advice session. Bring some music, sing us a piece and we’ll help you choose.


Intermediate singing classes

Intermediate singing classes introduce you to a more formal workshop format. Repertoire will be chosen by the tutor, to use your skills in a more flexible and artistic manner and to further develop your awareness of critical evaluation in singing. Repertoire should be of an approximate ABRSM grade 4-5 standard. The class has a professional accompanist.

At this level you will be expected to learn songs and bring them to class prepared to work on communication and performance. Each module will explore specific musical styles e.g. French song, or English 20th century song. It is important that you adhere to the set repertoire so that you learn about the style when listening to others as well as when singing yourself.

Intermediate singers' workshop (lower): module 1/ module 2 / module 3 (NB: 1.5 hour class)

Intermediate singers' workshop (upper): module 1 / module 2 / module 3 (NB: 2 hour class)

Technical singing class (NB: 3-session workshop)

Sing music theatre workshop

Cabaret workshop (terms 1 and 2 only)


Advanced workshops

These workshop classes require a short, informal audition. They are intended for experienced classical singers (at least five years' tuition) with good vocal technique who wish to explore rich repertoire, and develop expressive and communicative skills. Repertoire should be of ABRSM grade 6 standard and above. They are suitable for singers who are preparing for a public performance.

Each class has a professional accompanist and you are expected to prepare your music in advance. You do not need sight-singing skills for these classes but confident music-reading and foreign language skills are required.

Advanced singers' workshop (song): module 1/ module 2 / module 3

Advanced singers' workshop (performance): module 1 / module 2 / module 3


Prepare for opera

Prepare for opera class focuses on operatic repertoire and is intended for singers who have completed at least our Intermediate workshops, or who have similar experience through one-to-one lessons.

This course introduces you to both operatic repertoire and the vocal and presentation skills necessary to perform opera on stage. Through these classes you will discover how acting and communicating through the operatic medium affects your singing and you will gain an overview of operatic voice-types and their repertoire.

Opera studio

Take more advanced coaching on operatic repertoire and begin to combine this with movement, acting skills, working with text and ensemble participation. Prepare short operatic scenes in class and experience operatic-style rehearsals. For this course there is an audition so please read the course outline for more details.