Teaching Experience

Virna is a passionate and highly skilled singing teacher, vocal coach and music educator. She has over 25 years experience teaching both privately and in a variety of other contexts, including tertiary and secondary institutions, television broadcast settings, and in the corporate sector. She has worked with people of all ages and levels, from absolute beginners, through to household names seeking to fine-tune their skills or prepare for recordings or key performances.

Virna has been the jazz voice specialist at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music since 2014, and as Vocal Lecturer and Unit of Study Coordinator, has played a pivotal role in course development and in enriching the student experience over this period. She has also taught extensively for other tertiary institutions such as UNSW, Macquarie University, EORA Centre for Aboriginal Studies and the Australian Institute of Music

Beyond the academic sphere, Virna was the vocal coach for television show, The Voice working behind the scenes for its first three seasons. She has frequently been a guest lecturer / tutor for programs such as the SIMA Young Women’s Jazz Workshops, and also spent some years as a CPM examiner for the AMEB.

She maintains a busy private teaching practice working with students from all walks of life in a wide variety of contemporary musical styles. 

Virna is an excellent teacher. She's able to adapt her teaching style for anyone…She's fun, incredibly knowledgable and happy to spend time explaining things. I'm so happy learning from her, intend to continue doing so, and I couldn't recommend her enough.” - Jonathan P.

Teaching Approach

Virna takes a holistic approach to teaching, drawing on a range of skills in various disciplines as required. Having studied Vocal Pedagogy at post-graduate level, she has a thorough scientific understanding of vocal anatomy and function, and remains current in her knowledge by participating regularly in professional development events. Virna also has an in-depth knowledge of musicianship in jazz and contemporary styles, refined over a long career as both performer and educator.  

Some of the areas that can be covered where appropriate include:

  • building a healthy vocal technique
  • understanding vocal anatomy
  • preparing students for exams, auditions, recordings, key performances etc.
  • refining technique in the more experienced singer
  • identifying and addressing physical and cognitive habits that contribute to tension and inhibit free vocalisation
  • overall tone development
  • ear training, sight reading, musicianship and theory, specific to the needs of a singer
  • chart writing, transposition and transcription
  • phrasing and understanding rhythmic feels or grooves
  • personalising a song, interpretation and improvisation
  • coaching in almost any genre of contemporary music including jazz, funk, R&B, pop, soul, folk etc.
  • harmony singing and arrangement of vocal harmonies
  • specialised techniques such as “belting” as well as other forms of tone modification
  • basic stage presence, performance and microphone technique
  • learning to manage the demands of professional vocal use
  • learning how to avoid or recover from injury
  • guiding classically trained singers who would like to sing jazz and contemporary music in finding stylistically appropriate approaches to all elements of vocal delivery

Just wanted to thank you for all the vocal lessons you gave me, I am singing lead on songs in my band in some big venues now and getting confidence. Your holistic lesson methodology also helped me teach better. So thanks for your patience and dedication to your students, you really are enriching lives.” ” - Josh Hindmarsh

My Values

  • I value and respect the uniqueness of each student - all lessons are tailored to the individual. I work with students to identify the most important areas of focus based on their needs, preferences and goals.
  • I consistently aim to create a safe, non-judgmental environment where students' confidentiality is respected and where they have the space to develop technically, musically, expressively and often personally.
  • Transparent communication is key to my teaching. I always seek to demystify jargon and offer clear explanations in all areas., fostering an environment in which students can feel comfortable to ask any question.
  • My teaching is geared towards gradually building autonomy in students, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to continue their learning journey in their own time. 
  • Sharing my knowledge is an important part of my calling and I treat it with the same value and respect as my performing work. They are two sides of the same coin, and one elevates the other. 
  • I believe music has the potential to make the world a better place and have witnessed its profound, transformational power in action many times. As an educator, I see myself as a facilitator in this process. 



Are you taking on new students?

  • Yes, I see new students all the time. I teach on an appointment basis meaning it is usually not too difficult to find a spot. 

Do I need to sign up for a term or a minimum number of lessons?

  • There is no requirement to sign up for a term or a minimum number of lessons. You can come for one lesson, weekly lessons or anything in between.

When are you available?

  • Times I teach are variable and can include weekdays (both daytime and evening) and weekend mornings. I am normally able to see people within a week or two of first contact.  

How much do lessons cost and how do I pay?

  • Please get in touch for current pricing and payment methods. 

How can I book a lesson?

  • All lessons are booked on an appointment basis - we simply find a mutually convenient time. To book, please get in touch via the contact form. If you are ready to book, please include your general availability and I will come back to you with some options. 

How long do lessons go for?

  • Lessons go for one hour. I sometimes do longer lessons upon request. 

Do you offer a trial lesson?

  • I don't offer a trial lesson but if you have any extra queries please feel free to get in touch - I am happy to answer any questions via email, or we can have a chat on the phone if you prefer.

What is your cancellation policy?

  • If you need to change or cancel a lesson once it is booked, I ask for the standard 24 hours notice to avoid a full cancellation fee.

Where are you located and how can I get there?

  • I am located in Glebe in Sydney's Inner West. Full address details will be provided once a lesson is booked. There is free parking on my street and surrounding streets or if you are coming by public transport, I am close to Glebe Light Rail stop (which connects to Central station), and to Glebe Point Rd where there are plenty of buses.

I am an absolute beginner. Is that ok?

  • Yes! I love teaching people who want to learn, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. We will start where you are and go from there. 

What styles of music do you teach?

  • My specialty areas are jazz, soul and almost any style of contemporary music. I teach technique across other areas as well, including musical theatre.

Do you teach classical singing?

  • I can cover the fundamental components of classical vocal technique and offer general advice however I would advise you to seek out a classical voice specialist if this is the main area you would like to focus on. 

I am classically trained but want to sing contemporary music or jazz. Can you help me?

  • Absolutely! I have a lot of experience helping people transition between styles and can guide you through both the vocal and musical aspects involved. The way we conceptualise music in different styles can vary significantly - I can help you navigate this as well. 

I don't know any music theory. Is that ok?

  • You don't need to know theory to sing, however depending what you would like to learn, I may identify some extra knowledge that could help you achieve your aims. I have a lot of experience demystifying technical knowledge and theory for vocalists , so you will be in safe hands if this comes up. Don't worry - you won't be forced to learn music theory if you don't want to. 

Do I need to be able to read music?

  • You don't have to be able to read music to be able to sing. That said, depending on your aims and priorities, you may find it helpful to learn to read, even a little. This is especially the case if the music you want to sing is very complex melodically and harmonically (e.g. some forms of jazz). We can discuss this during your lesson. If you can already read, great - we can put this skill to good use. If you already know you would like to learn to read, I can certainly help you with that.

Do you provide accompaniment?

  • Yes, I can accompany you on piano using chord charts or lead sheets (these include melody, chord symbols and lyrics). You are welcome to bring any sheet music you may have for pieces you would like to work on - as long as it includes chord symbols I will be able to accompany you. For some styles of music it may be more appropriate to use a backing track e.g. pop tracks with a lot of production. When we book your lesson we can discuss this as well as what, if anything, you will need to bring with you.

Do you teach ear training?

  • All the time! Everyone hears differently and I love helping each individual with their aural perception. 

Can you teach me to ad lib or improvise?

  • Yes! Whether you want to learn to ad lib in a pop or R&B style, or if you are interested in learning about jazz harmony and scat singing, I can help you develop listening skills, tools and approaches that will assist in developing this skill. Many people find improvisation daunting, but by using some simple approaches and with a bit of dedicated practice, it can become much less scary.

I have an obvious "break" and want to work on my "mix". Can you help me?

  • One of the most common technical aspects I work on with students is ease of access throughout their range, including smoothing out their transition between registers. I can clarify what can often be confusing terminology and explain how your instrument actually works, just enough so that you are clear on what we are aiming for. Of course, everyone learns differently, so if you're not interested in knowing this that's fine too - we can just sing. 

Can you teach me to belt?

  • Yes. This is part of general vocal technique. When and how we work on this will depend on various factors. We can discuss this further in your lesson once I've started getting to know your voice.

Can you teach vibrato?

  • Vibrato is part of general technique. Rather than "teaching vibrato", we will work towards a balanced and flexible vocal technique, which is what gives rise to a healthy vibrato. From there we can work on stylistic choices, since different styles use vibrato differently.

Do you teach HSC students. 

  • Yes, I have helped many students prepare for their HSC. Note that although I can certainly suggest repertoire, you will need to liaise closely with your teacher at school to ensure appropriateness of pieces and make sure all other logistics are organised, including sheet music and accompaniment. 

Do you work with actors?

  • Absolutely. I've worked with many actors who have roles that require singing, or who just want to work on their general vocal technique.

Do you teach young children?

  • Yes, although I don't offer shorter lessons for children. If you feel a one hour lesson would suit your child I will happily teach them. 

Does my child need to be a certain age before coming for lessons?

  • This depends on the child and their level of interest. Feel free to get in touch to discuss this.

I am a singer-songwriter and am having some vocal problems, but am concerned that if I come for lessons I will have to change my sound. 

  • I am very mindful of the fact that our vocal sound forms part of our identity, and the stakes are raised in the case of singer-songwriters and artists with a signature sound. The issues you are experiencing may not require a tonal change at all, but if I do hear something in this area that might be causing issues, I will communicate with you about it transparently. We will then discuss ways to encourage a more sustainable technique, while retaining as much of your sound as possible. This usually involves quite subtle changes and we will only do what you are comfortable with.

Can you help me learn to sing backing vocals?

  • We can certainly work towards developing the aural and vocal and rhythmic skills required to sing backing vocals. Note that this is best done when there are some foundations in place - although it looks easy, singing backing vocals requires a specific set of skills that are quite different in some ways from the skills required to sing lead. 

I have had a vocal injury. Can you help me recover?

  • As long as you have seen an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat specialist) for diagnosis, undertaken any recommended treatment (often involving sessions a speech therapist), and been approved by your specialist(s) to recommence singing, I will be happy to work with you. It is important that I have enough information to teach you in a way that supports your recovery. Ideally this will be in the form of a letter from your specialist, detailing the nature of the injury and any recommendations.

Are you qualified to teach singing?

  • There is currently no official qualification required to teach singing but this is an important question. In terms of university education, I gained my jazz qualifications from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (University of Sydney) in the late 1990s and in 2018-19, studied science-based vocal pedagogy at Masters level through the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University). I have a thorough understanding of vocal anatomy and function, and of the way that our thoughts and feelings can affect how we use our voice. You won't be bombarded with science, but you can rest assured that I have a lot of background knowledge to be able to identify the root cause of issues you may be experiencing, and to work with you on approaches to address these. Aside from university education, I continue professional development through organisations such as the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing, as well as through my own reading. Equally importantly, I have extensive real life experience to draw on. I have honed my skills over thousands of hours of teaching and singing, and have over 25 years of industry experience as a live performer and session vocalist, working in many different capacities across a range of styles.