Soprano, Voice Coach and Voice Lecturer - Hamilton
- Bachelor of Music
- Master of Music
- Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship
When it comes to singing, Julia Booth has done it all, except have an international career, and that’s because that was never in her grand plan.
The invitation to go further afield was made, but Julia, a Master of Music graduate from the University of Waikato, wanted to stay in New Zealand and have a family. And while she’d performed in numerous shows and sung with top regional New Zealand orchestras and the NZSO and won plenty of awards, she found herself equally drawn to teaching — not just singing but voice use and rehabilitation.
She says it’s thanks to her Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship that she’s achieved what she has. Her scholarship was “quite vital and hugely impacting on a number of levels”.
“While I was studying, high performance manager Greg O’Carroll was an excellent mentor who took a meaningful and holistic approach to my development. The personal development workshops we had really forced me to examine my own personal goals, and then a video of Sir Ed where he talked about setting big goals felt like a direct challenge to me to really push boundaries and to understand what would be truly meaningful to me.”
She worked hard, graduated with honours and was awarded the Sir Edmund Hillary medal, presented each year to two exceptional students, one in sport and one in the arts. It remains one of Julia’s proudest moments. “I was deeply touched to be a part of that,” she says.
These days Julia’s life is full on, working four days a week and raising three daughters.
While she was still a student at Waikato she became increasingly interested in Estill Voice Training (EVT). It’s a model of voice function, as opposed to a singing method, which allows a skilled practitioner to work with all voices across a range of styles as well as the spoken voice. She went on to study it in depth, has been a master trainer for five years and continues to study to gain certification as a course instructor.
“So alongside teaching singing I work with ear, nose and throat surgeons and speech language pathologists and therapists to help people either recover their voice or to learn how to use their voice more effectively.”
Some of her clients are school teachers whose voices are often husky or voiceless by the end of a working week, and Julia says that’s becoming even more common now that open-plan classrooms are more commonplace.
“I can help them use their voices more effectively and teach them how to project well. Teaching and engaging with people like this, seeing them improve their wellbeing, that gives me even more of a buzz than being on stage under the spotlight.”
But she still sings musical theatre and cabaret and records for New Zealand composers. “When you’re teaching singing I think it’s important to do live performance, to remember all that’s involved when you’re on stage.”
This year Julia’s been teaching on Wintec’s contemporary commercial music and newly established musical theatre programmes for 20 hours a week. “I’m teaching singing, the science of voice and the technical aspects of musical theatre. I love it because there’s so much variety.” She also teaches private pupils in her own home and takes her voice clinics one day a week.
Julia didn’t know where she’d end up when she began her first degree at the University of Waikato, but today the former Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar is exactly where she wants to be.