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the short bio…

Jodie O’Regan is a conductor, singing teacher, composer and arranger with a special interest in community choral training and beginner teaching. She has a varied history in singing performance, from folk music, to punk rock to classical a cappella ensembles. Jodie has studied singing for many years, and holds a Masters of Music from the University of Queensland.

the long bio…

I was born into a singing family. My mother sang constantly – singing seemed perfectly normal. When I was a teenager and my friends complained to me about my singing I realised two things

1. not everyone sings

2. I needed to have lessons to actually learn how to sing well.

So began my years of study – in classical singing style. Firstly with Lorraine Smith (in Mackay) when I was a teenager, then Patricia Davies during my twenties (with breaks for pregnancies and babies) – where we lived in Canberra and then with bass Robert Dawe. Robert has worked as a professional singer for decades and I think it’s good to study with a seasoned professional singer because they understand what the industry really requires. In 2011 I started learning with Ros Martin in Adelaide, and that's exciting indeed.

I learnt that singing is like any other instrument, if you want to do it – do it! Find a good teacher and learn the technique. There’s no need to be a natural at singing to become good at it.

As a student in Canberra, I worked in restaurants and folk venues as a folk singer, singing the songs I learned from my mother and her family, and folky originals. I guess I had an authentic folk experience – I learnt folk songs from my mother, who had learnt them from her mother and so on.

A year after I finished uni I was pregnant. While I was off work for maternity leave (at that time I shelved books in a library) – I did some acting training and I think this is a good idea for singers. When we perform we are acting – acting characters, delivering lines. All singing performing is acting I think.

For a couple of years in the 90s, I hooked up with the Suspect Mushrooms – a long standing Canberra band. In my time with the band, we became a costumed punk/opera fusion experience. This iteration of the band lasted a couple of years, and was rather odd and wonderful. If you’ve played in a band you’ll know that a lot of your work is in pubs and your clients, and very often the band are involved in getting drunk. It can be chaotic work. I think this experience gave me a taste for the crazy!

At the same time, my day job was as a super hero in a children’s theater show – traveling to schools around ACT and NSW.

It’s funny how my classical singing training led me to work as a folk singer, punk fusion DIVA, and a children’s actor. It wasn’t until recently I performed classical music.

Being a rock star, a super hero and having a young family don’t work together. So I settled down and did something else sensible for a while. I kept studying classical singing, and took up composition study with Olla Palmqvist who taught me a lot about a mindset for composing. It’s slightly different to studying theory. For composers rules become tools. So if you want the dominant sound of parallel fifths – that’s a tool you might use.

Shortly after we married Emlyn discovered he could sing. We’ve sung together for years with different people (including in a trio with my mum) and choirs and plenty just the two of us. We largely write and or arrange our own material. In the ten years we’ve been in Adelaide I’ve also written an opera, an oratorio and a mass which we’ve staged here.

Both our children now sing so the song will go on.

My favourite singing is acappella ensemble singing, and recently Emlyn and I have started working on arranging our favourite folk songs – the songs I grew up with.

Teaching has been one of the great joys of my singing life. I’ve taught for decades really. Sometimes just a student or two at a time. It really emerged from my own singing but now it’s the main focus of my work.

My specialty is beginning students – I teach both children and adults. Perhaps because I wasn’t a natural – everything about singing I consciously learnt – I am suited to teaching beginners and helping establish vocal technique. I have taught community choirs and ensembles for a decade and believe very passionately in the importance of choral life for music and vocal education, health, wellbeing and joy.

In 2010 I completed a Masters in Music majoring in Aural Pedagogy at University of Queensland. At the time UQ had an internationally regarded program in Kodaly. Kodaly is an approach to music education based in systematic teaching of every aspect of practical and theoretical musicianship through singing. The program for Kodaly starts at kindergarten level and extends to masters. The program is incredibly effective – the musicianship skills of trained Kodaly folk are amazing. My favourite aspect of Kodaly pedagogical practice is that every single musical element is DISCOVERED by the students. It takes skill and care on the part of the teacher to make this possible and successful.