This is a letter I wrote to one of my HSC students recently. He had received back his teacher’s performance notes on his Prelim HSC exam. I felt overwhelmed reading the level of expectation from the adjudicators and the HSC standard. Sure, I understand it’s an exam, and getting a good mark is good. But dang, the list was epic. I think this letter I wrote back gives you a fair insight into the that teacher I am…

Yeah wow.

Thats such a comprehensive list of stuff to focus and work on isn’t it…..

I think overall I agree with it all, except for the first thing – “Show everything that you can do in each piece”. I think that’s a bit weird.

I like performing a couple of songs, where one is low and slow, and one is high and sweet, and one is fast and funky, and one is bluesy and sad etc etc. 

I like different songs providing different parts of my vocal world. 

Not every song: trying to be a gymnast through everything. So it makes my set interesting, not repetitive (I hope).

And, whilst I do pretty much agree with everything below, and I’m sure I should probably be cracking down and being a hard arse on you and beating you into vocal perfection –  but I’m going to maybe break the rules but just saying, holy shit, you’re doing HSC, you’re just figuring some of this out, you’re not all matured musicians with decades of experience and expertise. You’re human! And you’re a young adult! What do they flipping expect from you?!?! 

So yes, lets work on all these things, but also, lets just take a breath, have fun, remember music is about joy and love, and relax a little.


So much of this stuff is muscle memory. You practise and focus on it, and then on the day you shake it off and go for gold with effortless joy.

There’s no point becoming an anxious mess about trying to tick all of their boxes, because that’s the opposite of retracted, open, effortless singing.

The piece of gold I can give you, and help you see, is to believe in yourself. Because that’s the opposite of this stress right?

And from what I’ve seen and heard and met of you, I think you’re a confident, positive, happy dude, who does believe in himself.

And for your HSC and singing in general, have a little checklist for yourself. Mark yourself. Have your own expectations. Make yourself proud with your effort and mark. Cause thats part of believing in yourself – having your own standards in life to work towards.

A list like –

hit that one high note really well, 

have a good tempo

achieve the right feel for the song,

get those lyrics right,

ad-lib on that bit



and what they give you is a bonus.

and to make your list achievable. Not impossible. I’m not a perfectionist. So that is easy for me! Ha haa!! Perfect is one thing, but enjoyable is another. I honestly don’t care if I hit a dodgy note, so long as I learn from it.


I’ll stop my rant now.

I feel like I’m on some sort of flower power mission.

I’m not that much of a hippie am I?! 

I just think the standards of expectation of some of those notes are flipping intense!!!!!

Big smiles!

You’re awesome!