Singing Teacher - Testimonials

My name is Eugene Dillon-Hooper, 20 years old and studying opera and vocal studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester. I was able to achieve a place along with an entrance scholarship due to the excellent teaching of John Gull.

John is a superb teacher who gives outstanding attention to detail in the voice. He compares to many teachers at the RNCM in terms of what he picks up on with individuals and allows each student to grow into their own voice rather than a reproduction. He helped sort out my technique in a matter of months to a standard where I could audition for music college and attain my ABRSM Grade 8, both of which were successful endeavours. 

"a superb teacher who gives outstanding attention to detail in the voice"

He is also a great personality who I found very easy to get on with. Since moving to the RNCM I still keep in touch with John and have sung for him since to show my progression, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Itwas great to catch up with someone I now consider an old friend. It can be very difficult to find a teacher with that level of friendship coupled with professionalism, but John strikes that balance perfectly. I have no hesitation in recommending John as a teacher.

Eugene Dillon-Hooper (Leicester / Manchester)

I am about to pursue my career as a Mezzo-Soprano on the Masters of Performance course at the Royal College of Music, London where I have been studying for a Bachelor of Music degree for the past four years.

As a gifted and hugely talented musician, accompanist and singing coach, John has the ability to nurture, challenge and engage musicians of all ages, whatever their musical ability. His ambitious and passionate approach to both accompanying and teaching is thoroughly infectious and uplifting. His professionalism and dedication to his work and his students empowers his pupils to strive for nothing less than excellence.

As a singer, it was hugely important for me to work with such an open and honest individual and John’s in-depth knowledge and experience of foreign languages coupled with his love of poetry and literature deepened my overall understanding of performance and musical delivery.

"an outstanding teacher, coach and accompanist"

Above all, his creativity, intellect and his sense of fun make him an outstanding teacher, coach and accompanist for musicians of the future. I have had the pleasure of witnessing John prepare fellow young musicians as they embark on a career in music be that for ABRSM examinations or auditions and interviews at the UK’s leading conservatoires and universities. I would have no reservation in recommending him to you.

Rachael Cox (London)

John taught our son, Oliver, singing and piano from February 2010 until August 2012 when he left to take up a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to study singing.  Oliver enjoyed his time with John whose relaxed attitude and easy-going manner made him an ideal teacher for our son.

With John’s help and support, Oliver approached his Music College auditions with a positive outlook and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. As a result, he received offers from all but one of the Colleges he auditioned for.

We are extremely grateful to John for the commitment and support he gave to Oliver, and would thoroughly recommend him as a music teacher for any young person.

Angela & Jim Gildea (Hinckley)

I started formal singing lessons with John just two years ago, having been a chorister since the age of seven, and within eighteen months went from a somewhat “raw potential” to passing my Grade 8 ABRSM examination with distinction. This is an achievement that I am immensely proud of and it would not have been in any way possible without the tuition that John provided.

From the very start he encouraged me and completely supported my decision to audition for a choral scholarship. He recognised when I was struggling with my confidence and always reassured me honestly without making a fuss.

I could also tell for myself just how much progress I was making thanks to John’s expert guidance combined with no small amount of practice. I quickly became more confident in my singing and a better singer as a result. Because of John’s teaching I won a choral scholarship to Oriel College, Oxford which I am incredibly excited to be taking up in October. 

"John is wonderfully enthusiastic"

John is infinitely patient with the bizarre array of mistakes I make, but at the same time will never let me get away with anything less than my best attempt. He makes me work hard, but also works hard himself to help me as much as he can; giving me really specific advice, approaching things in different ways when I’m struggling to understand, and repeating his instructions however many times I need (which can sometimes be a lot!).

John is wonderfully enthusiastic when I do something right. He shares so much in my triumph at finally achieving something I’ve been working at that it inspires me to want to do better again, and makes it feel as though learning to sing is a shared endeavour.

I have always loved the choral repertoire that I have grown up with, and John has fed that passion by giving me a new appreciation for music that I thought I knew. At the same time he has taken me out of my musical comfort zone, and in doing so has transformed me from the very proper, restrained chorister I was to someone who can sing with much more freedom and expression (although I can still confine myself to “chorister mode” if I have to!). I love the new range of musical opportunities that this has opened up to me, and I am enormously grateful to John for enabling that.

"an engaging, passionate and dedicated teacher"

John has been an inspiration to me as well as an engaging, passionate and dedicated teacher, and even though the incredible opportunities ahead of me excite me enormously, I am really going to miss the lessons that made them possible.

I would have no hesitation in recommending John to anyone.

Emily Essex (Ashby-de-la-Zouch)

If you want to sing ...there is no better place to come!  I have been singing with John now for over two years and look forward to it every week!  John has a supportive style of teaching that encourages you outside your comfort zone.  In my case we have covered a wide gamut of musical styles from chorales to carols to Sinatra. 

John is an excellent accompanist and instantly makes you feel relaxed.  I believe my technique, range and breathing have improved whilst my pronunciation still lapses and he ensures I keep focussed.  Each session is never like a 'lesson' more like an enjoyable journey to a) forget the stresses of life b) relax your mind and body c) continue on the journey to produce a unique sound owned by yours truly!   

"my technique, range and breathing have improved"

Its always the simple little tricks that an experienced teacher can draw out of you that can make all the difference...whether its your stance, your head position... things you would never discover by yourself.  John ensures you concentrate on improving and eradicating the bad habits!   

If you or your child wants to find a sympathetic teacher to nurture a budding talent or simply enjoy singing... you will be more than happy with John 

Mark Culbert (Leicester)

As a child, I sang as a treble soloist. I found the experience very rewarding, and at some level I always mourned the loss of the music.  Fifty years later when I had finally decided to do something about it I looked for a singing teacher. The task of finding, and choosing a teacher was not easy. The task of retrieving something of quality after such a long time was daunting. John Gull was prepared to try.

The lessons were demanding and exhilarating.  When I did well John’s enthusiasm was inspiring. When I did less well he could be rueful, but never impatient or irritated.  At all times I felt encouraged and supported.  Some time ago John introduced me to Schubert’s Winterreise. The effect was something like giving a Ferrari and a racetrack to a petrol-head! I may not drive like Lewis Hamilton but the ride is great!

"at all times I felt encouraged and supported"

Eighteen months after starting with John there has been a good deal of work and effort from both of us. My tone, range and volume have improved to the point where it is now an enormous pleasure to sing, certainly for me, and I hope for those listening.  I have sung recently as a bass in a choir, and had the opportunity to sing Die Leiermann as a soloist. Being part of a performance of Verdi’s Requiem was great fun. My solo to a group of musicians was very well appreciated and gave me very positive feedback.  I am obsessed with the Winterreise.  I now sing six of them to John’s excellent piano accompaniment. Only nineteen more to go.

David Orton (Nottingham)

When I found John (via the internet) in early 2010, I was already of an advanced age, being in my very late fifties, and an absolute musical beginner, as my last official encounter with music was at school.  John said neither was a major impediment, and was very supportive.  My only asset was that I knew I loved singing and wanted to learn how to do it better, before it really was “too late”.  John said that it was never too late.

So I came for lessons, and practised as much as I could, being a rather busy doctor.  John was very patient with my non-existent sense of rhythm, which regularly tripped me up, and my immediate panic whenever he presented me with any new song.  I just went along, at first with a sense of foreboding (if I can’t get this song then surely there will be a disaster!) but, in the end, I decided that if he had chosen a song (Mozart, Faure, Debussy, three months after my first lesson?!  He must be joking!), then it meant he had the confidence he could get me to sing it.  I just had to do as I was told and all would be well, which it was!

"a true maestro and lover of his art"

So far, I have managed to sing to his satisfaction all the songs he has produced, in English, Italian, French, Latin, and even one in German!  To my amazement, three short years later, my repertoire includes songs on the ABRSM syllabus at grades 6, 7 and 8.  So I have learnt not to be quite so frightened any more; that even complex songs can be decoded; that rhythm rules do make sense.  Most surprisingly, I have begun to find my own sense of rhythm, or rather my body has, not my conscious brain!  Even some music theory is not only beginning to make sense, but also even sound positively attractive!  Along the way I discovered that words should be pronounced differently when sung, that composers vary in how helpfully they write for the singer, that the precise pitch of the same note can vary from song to song, and the duration of a crotchet from bar to bar.  All in the name of Art!

More importantly perhaps I have had so much fun!  My lessons are always at the end of a very long day; nevertheless when I leave John's welcoming house, I always feel less tired than when I arrived.  And of course I enjoy listening to music even more.  Especially the songs I know! 

A wonderful journey, made possible by a true maestro and lover of his art, who also loves teaching, and relishes challenges thrown by students' varying quirks and aptitudes.  Thank you, John!  Long may you continue!

Fawzia Rahman (Leicester)

I am Enhanced DBS-checked for working with children and vulnerable adults.  DBS documentation is available for inspection on request.