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Sing for the health of it: Local voice coach offers unique singing and speaking course

A Peoria-based voice coach is offering a class to budding singers and public speakers looking to improve their skills and confidence.

Edith Barnard is a long time voice coach and singer. She said when she offers her class, it fills up quickly. This year, she said she may need to add another class time.

“I had more people want to be in it than I had room for,” she said, “Which is great. I love it. Anytime I offer this class, it fills up very quickly.”

Barnard said she has room for up to eight students, and she said she teaches a variety of ages from teenagers to adults.

“I don't like the word ‘work.’ I like the word ‘play.’ To me, that's a more energetic, jovial, easily learning word,” she said.

Barnard also said singing has both physical and mental health benefits. She said breathing exercises help students with asthma or COPD, and the process of singing in a group helps people feel less isolated.

She said her favorite part of teaching her classes is how much fun it is for her and her students.

“Even by the end of the first class, people are sometimes exchanging phone numbers, which I think is great. Don't we all want to be friends? I think so. So singing and music is a great way to make friends” she said, “Instead of feeling that we're alone, the marvelous gift of feeling that we're a part of something larger than ourselves is really fabulous.”

Barnard’s students ‘play’ to build a repertoire of songs they can sing really well. A list of eight songs can include any song from any genre. Barnard said students learn a lot about themselves through the process of selecting and practicing their songs.

“I have one adult student who chooses jazz, he chooses rock and roll, he chooses some Italian arias. And after he and I spoke about what his repertoire list tells him about himself. He was really surprised at how diverse his love of singing and music was,” she said.

For information on Edith Barnard’s voice coaching lessons, visit her website at www.peoriamusiclady.com.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.