We got to chat with renowned vocal coach Kathleen Riggs about the Riggs Vocal Method, how the pandemic has changed her work, and teaching singers like Dua Lipa and Madison Beer.
Even if you did not end up being a vocal coach, did you always see yourself having a career within the music industry?
It’s pretty hard to imagine not having a career in music with the way I was brought up. It was either being a vocal coach or having a singing career. This way I have the best of both worlds. I can teach and sing when I want to without the extra added pressure of needing to find work elsewhere whilst pursuing the singing. Other than teaching singing. I’ve always thought I may make a good therapist. Maybe at some point, I’ll go back to school and make that happen. But for now I’m right where I want and wish to be.
For those who aren’t familiar can you share with our readers what the Riggs Vocal Method is that you use with your clients?
Derived from the principles which my father Seth Riggs created and instilled in me is The Riggs Vocal Method. The focus of this method is to build in one’s “middle” or “mixed” voice. Usually, men and women run into vocal challenges when singing from their lower to higher register ie their chest to head voice. There is a strain or break in one’s voice when navigating that middle territory and my job is to blend that area so that when the singer sings there is a seamless blend, feel, connection from low to high without any sudden tension or changes in the sounds quality. I also use a ton of vocal Riffs & Runs to build in style.
The music industry as a whole has been transformed by COVID-19. How has the pandemic changed the way you do your job and interact with your clients?
The pandemic has changed my work life in the way of everyone has been online since March 2020. I’m hoping to be back in person for those that can physically come in at the end of this year when it’s safe to do so. There is a certain magic of in-person lessons that doesn’t quite translate the same to online BUT online lessons are literally the next best thing. Before the pandemic, I taught for years via Skype for my international clientele so I was already used to teaching online. All I ever need is great Wifi, my piano or keyboard, a student’s voice, and figuring out what the time difference is. Teaching online as a whole has made it easier for students to access me and it’s the new normal. Clients call in wearing pajamas, or from their recording/ rehearsal sessions and we just get to work. They don’t have to fight traffic. It works and works well. I am so grateful it has worked out for us. Phew!
Some of your clients are Dua Lipa, Madison Beer, and Saweetie. Those are all singers who have had some major moments in 2020 and 2021. How has it felt seeing your clients shine and have these huge career milestones?
I am incredibly proud of all my students! You just never know who is going to make that level of shine and who is not. I am just so pleased I could play a part in the unfolding of their success. I’m happy, excited, and eager to see their hard work pay off and for their futures in music and anything else they decide to do.
Through your job you must work with and learn about a lot of up and coming artists. Who are some musicians our readers should have on their radar?
I work with TONS of up-and-comers! Off the top of my head I’d say watch out for :
Amber Mark (@instagramber), Zach Brandon (@_zachbrandon), Shannon Magrane (@shannonmagrane), Greta Karen (@gretakg), Jessie Payo (@jessiepayo), Love Mansuy (@lovemansuy), Berel (@berel.muisc), Elu Jay (@elujay), Olivia Louise (@olivelouise), Jessie Berg (@jessiebergg), Alexa B. (@iamalexadanielle), Lianna (@queenlianna), Krysta Youngs (@krystayoungs), Ludovica Cola (@lulacola), Greta Morgan (@gretamorgan), Hunter and Tyson Salomon (@hunterandtyson), Heather Youmans (@heatheryoumans), Isaiah Jermod (@isaiahjermod), Forest Blakk (@forestblakk), Ryann (@ryann), Parker Rainsworth (@parkerrainsworth), Jo & Anna (@itsjoyeur). I could literally go on and on! I hope all of these folks get their shine and time in the limelight because they all so deserve it. Their music is really really great.