Amy London has been teaching voice in New York City since the Spring of 1984. In March of that year, Amy joined the faculty of the Guitar Study Center, a contemporary music school established by Eddie Simon, brother of Paul Simon, under the umbrella of the New School in Greenwich Village. “My teaching has certainly evolved tremendously since the early days”, says London. “When I first considered teaching vocal jazz, I realized that my classical voice training, experience on the bandstand and ability to provide piano accompaniment offered me an opportunity to share my love for the music with other singers. As my teaching career lengthens, I am constantly gathering new information, which I am always delighted to pass along to my students.”
Amy grew up in a musical family, and was drawn to music from a very early age. Influenced by the girl groups and Motown as a small child, then Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor in the 70’s,
Amy eventually discovered the jazz greats while in college, Ella, Billie, Sarah, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Mark Murphy, Eddie Jefferson, et al. Amy also studied piano from the age of 8, which enabled her to become a good reader, and to acquire the musicianship skills that are neccessary for the professional singer.
Amy’s teaching is based on several concepts, the first being a healthy, full voice sound, created by proper breath support and vowel formation, combined with classical vocal technique and the ability to listen astutely to music and sing as part of the ensemble. While earning her BA in voice at Syracuse University, and receiving operatic training from bass baritone Donald Miller, Amy discovered how to transform the Bel Canto method into a jazz sound, fascilitating the use of the entire vocal range.
While she was earning her college degree, she had the opportunity to sing with small and big bands in the Syracuse area. As a result, Amy was able to immediately apply her new found vocal technique to the bandstand, while simultaneously discovering the thrill of swinging onstage with the band and communicating beautiful stories to the audience.
Upon her arrival in New York, while checking out the jazz club scene, Amy realized that she needed charts to hand out to the band members. Using her pianistic knowledge, Amy began transposing her favorite tunes from fakebooks, and receiving many accolades from fellow musicians on the band stand for well written and legible charts. “I soon realized that the skill of presenting well written charts on a gig was necessary for professionals. When I began teaching, not only did I focus on vocal technique, swing and interpretation, but preparing one’s book as well.”
Ms. London taught at the Guitar Study Center from 1984 to 1989, and then took a hiatus from teaching when she was cast in the Broadway hit, ‘City of Angels’, which ran from 1989 to 1992.
When the show closed in 1992, Amy returned to teaching at New School University, where she helped establish the highly successful vocal department in the BFA program there. “When I presented my first master class at the New School back in the late 80’s, there were only five singers. Since then, the program has really taken off, and now we have 50 to 60 voice majors each semester. I am so pleased at the success of our program, and to be deeply involved in sharing my passion for jazz with so many talented young singers.”
Amy has also taught in the jazz departments of City University of New York, Jersey City University, the Lucy Moses School in Manhattan, and she has conducted workshops in the US and Canada. At the 2007 International Association of Jazz Educators conference in New York, Ms. London presented a very successful workshop entitled, ‘Sing Along With Ella: The Key to Vocal Jazz Improvisation’ to a standing room crowd of 250.
1) Amy London Master Class Rhythm Section Workshop: Sing jazz with a trio
Amy London has been singing with bands of all sizes for over 25 years in New York and internationally, from guitar/voice duo, to leading her own quartet, quintet and sextet, and to singing with a big band or a symphony orchestra. She is also one of the founders of the highly successful vocal department at New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where she has been vocal faculty since 1992. The core of the vocal program involves learning the skills required to sing with a jazz band in a professional setting. In this workshop, the vocalists focus on such skills as choosing tunes, choosing keys, how to count off a tune, how to get out and in after instrumental solos, intros and outros, stage presence, communication with the band, communication with the audience, and styles (ie: swing, bossa nova, samba, 12 bar blues, ballads, jazz waltz, bebop, etc.) Best case scenarios involve a rhythm section comprised of either your fellow students or professionals, preferably piano or guitar, bass and drums. Additionally, all horn players welcome as well.
Grades 9 – 12, college and post graduate.
Materials required for Amy London’s workshops: Pianist/Guitarist, Bassist, Drummer and sound system with microphone and cord.
2) Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Amy London can help your jazz choir finesse and swing, drawing upon her vast experience as a vocal jazz group singer. From her seven year stint with the Jazz Babies, a female vocal trio based on the legendary Boswell Sisters, to winning the role of the lead singer of the Angel City Four, the vocalese quartet from the Tony award winning and Grammy nominated Broadway hit, City of Angels, (original cast album — Columbia Records) to recording and performing with New York Voices (Ancient Tower– Earthbeat Records) and also including extensive experience as a session singer on filmscores and jingles, Ms. London can share her experience and expertise as a group singer with your school choir. From two part harmony for elementary school children, to advanced level multi harmony charts, Ms. London can work with your rehearsed charts, or bring her own charts to the workshop. Additionally, charts can be suggested prior to your workshop, in order for you and your choir to prepare and rehearse. Ms. London has been the director of the New School University Jazz BFA program Vocal Jazz Ensemble since 1992.
Grades 4 – 12, college undergraduate and post graduate
3) Teaching the Great American Songbook to Children
Children respond with pure excitement and joy when they are introduced to the great melodies of the American Renaissance, the 20th century. Featuring the music of such composers as Rodgers and Hammerstein, (Sound of Music, Oklahoma, The King and I, South Pacific), Harold Arlen (The Wizard of Oz), Irving Berlin (Annie Get Your Gun), Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn (Take the A Train, It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing), George Gershwin (Summertime, I Got Rhythm), Cole Porter (It’s Delovely, Anything Goes), Fats Waller (Ain’t Misbehavin’). Amy London leads the children through a finger snappin’, toe tappin singalong of the Great American Songbook.
Grades K – 12
4) Sing Along with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross
Using the songbook of one of the most swinging and inventive vocal groups in the history of jazz, Amy London can lead your choir through the tunes of this legendary group, teaching such important skills as how to swing as a group, how to enunciate bebop lyrics and how to imitate the sounds of horns, as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross did so brilliantly on their debut album, ‘Sing A Song of Basie’. Charts can be sent prior to the workshop in order for you and your choir to prepare and rehearse.
Grades 9 – 12, college undergraduate and post graduate.
5) Sing Along With Ella
If you want to learn to improvise, there is none better to learn from than the Queen of Scat herself, the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. Having presented the highly successful workshop at the 2007 IAJE in New York City, entitled Sing Along With Ella: The Key To Vocal Jazz Improvisation, in which Amy London had a crowd of 250 people singing Ella’s famous solo on ‘Take the A Train,’ Ms. London can now bring the same workshop to your school. Based on the skills displayed so brilliantly by La Fitzgerald, such as scat syllables, swinging phrases and singing through the chord changes, Ms. London breaks down the concepts of vocal improvisation that can be learned in a method that is highly successful and geared specifically towards singers.
Grades 9 -12, college graduate and post graduate
6) Kids Sing Along With Ella
In 2002, Amy London was chosen to sing on the soundtrack of the multi award winning children’s animated film, Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa (Weston Woods/Scholastic), narrated by Billy Dee Williams, which is based on the children’s book of the same title, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, with illustrations by Brian Pinkney. Using the concepts of Ella Fitzgerald’s musical legacy, Ms. London can bring the fun and experience of vocal jazz improvisation to a younger crowd. The film is 18 minutes long, and can be shown as part of the workshop, or can be purchased and shown in advance, in preparation for the workshop. It is available on VHS, or in DVD format. The DVD is in conjunction with another 17 minute film produced by the same creative team, entitled Duke Ellington. Both films are excellent introductions for children to learn about the incredible musical contributions made by these two jazz icons. The DVD offers bonus on-screen learning guides, with optional English subtitles. To order, call 1 800 243 5020,
or online www.scholastic.com/westonwoods
Grades K – 8
7) Vocal Lead Sheet Arranging for non-Dummies
As a jazz vocalist, it is very important to have your charts and arrangements prepared properly, and ready to hand out to the instrumentalists at your rehearsals and on the bandstand. Amy London shows you how to create a lead sheet from a fake book, in your key, as well as how to listen to your favorite recordings and dissect the recorded arrangements in order to learn how to arrange your own tunes.
Grades 9 -12, college and post graduate.
8) Sing Along With Eddie Jefferson: The Father of Vocalese
Eddie Jefferson, originally a dancer, was the first jazz vocalist to write lyrics to previously recorded instrumental solos. His brilliant legacy offers a wide choice of swinging, vocalese performances, always sung by Mr. Jefferson with great fun and expression. Written to the solos of many of the jazz greats, such as tenor saxophone masters Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, these pieces offer the jazz singer the opportunity to experience the thrill of singing the legendary solos, with an astounding vocabulary of Mr. Jefferson’s humorous and inventive lyrics, which make them perfect for the bandstand. The experience of learning and singing these solos is a great advantage when studying the art of vocal jazz improvisation.
Grades 9 – 12, college and post graduate.
Materials required for Amy London’s workshops: A piano, in tune, and sound system with microphone and cord.