From our Vocal Studies pathway in Performing Arts…

2015 graduate Louise Orfila brings us our next success story; she kindly agreed to an interview regarding her time at Canterbury Christ Church University within the School of Music and Performing Arts.

Louise studied with us on the Canterbury Campus for a BA (Hons) degree in Performing Arts, majoring in Vocal Studies. Upon graduating it was her intention to achieve a life and job that revolved around music and performance, particularly with regards to vocal coaching and teaching more generally. We are pleased to hear that this is something that she has already realised and it is growing all the time. Upon moving to Surrey, Louise is in demand and very busy! She has set up a theatre school, which currently has two branches and is expanding, has her own vocal coaching business teaching in several schools, runs a vocal group and performs regularly in a band that has been writing, recording and gigging together since her time at Christ Church. Ever humble when considering her own achievements, Louise puts her success partly down to the inspiration and knowledge she gained at University from tutors and fellow students, but we at the School of Music and Performing Arts know is purely down to her hard work, talent and determination.

Here is what Louise had to say about her University experience…

Louise, tell us about your current role/s – what does it/do they entail?

I have been lucky enough to create a very musical life for myself! I am a self-employed vocal coach, creator and director of my own music and performing arts academy (LCA Stage Academy), music director and singer-songwriter/performer in a UK Country Trio with my brother and sister; ORFILA.

My vocal coaching business consists of delivering one to one tuition in several schools around Surrey and teaching privately at student’s houses. This is a diverse role as I am teaching beginners (some as young as 6!) and advanced students too. In one session, I can be teaching basics and laying down the foundations of vocal technique and in the next, I’ll be helping someone prepare for their drama school auditions! I love it.

Since the age of around 16, I always imagined I would go to university and when I completed my degree I would open a music and performing arts academy… and I did! I launched LCA Stage Academy in August 2015, which currently has two schools running; one in Ashford, Kent, and one in Oxted, Surrey. Both schools have now been running musical theatre classes, workshops and masterclasses for ages 3-18 for a year and a half now. As well as running LCA, I also currently teach singing at both schools.

I am music director of a vocal group called Westerham Local Vocals. I took on the role as their music director in January 2016. I run the weekly sessions, teach the pieces, teach vocal techniques and organise masterclasses and performances.

Being part of ORFILA has been an amazing journey so far. We’ve been writing, recording and performing together for almost 5 years. In that time we have written and released two albums, reached the top 10 in the UK Country Music iTunes chart and supported artists including The Script, The Stereophonics, KT Tunstall, James Arthur, Travis, Nathan Sykes, Alexandra Burke and many more. We’ve recently performed at the Gibraltar Music Festival and we were selected by Yamaha Music Group to perform at Country to Country 2016 at The O2 arena. We are now supported Yamaha Artists.

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What excites you most about your work?

Everything. Every day is just full of music, singing, creativity and fun and I am so grateful that I am able to call what I do my ‘work’. I love that it is so diverse. I teach performers as young as 3 all the way up to those in their 70s. I then get to write music, record and perform with my siblings. I love the creativity that comes with my work. With both being in a band and teaching. I love teaching, coaching and encouraging people to pursue their dreams and achieve things that they have always dreamt of doing. I feel so lucky to be able to see so many of my students coming to me with a goal and then being able to be the one help them achieve it.

Tell us about your journey from graduate to achieving the position you aspired toward. Was it always smooth sailing or did you have to work your way up?

I did a lot of ground-work to have everything set up by the time I finished my degree in the April of 2015. I was already teaching singing whilst I was at university and I was planning ahead whilst I was studying so that when I completed my degree, everything was set up and ready to go. I dream big and work super hard to achieve the things I want to achieve. I am a very determined person and when an idea sparks or I set myself a goal – that’s it, I’m off! Since the age of around 16, I always knew I wanted to teach singing and musical theatre, and perform and create music. I dreamt of one day setting up my own vocal coaching business and a theatre school too, which is what I have done since leaving university. It is hard work and keeps me very busy but my goodness it is totally worth it.

What advice would you give students trying to get into your profession?

Dream big and work hard! This industry is fascinating, challenging and so fast paced. Being totally self-employed, I know that your role is what you make it. If you work hard and believe in what you are doing, you will get to where you want to be. I have always believed that you can achieve great things if you work hard. Always be willing to learn new things and meet new people. Be a sponge at uni! Lecturers are fantastic at CCCU and were always willing to help me when I had questions, needed advice or guidance. Be sure to build relationships with them. They will always be there to help and encourage you, even when you’ve graduated.

In what ways did studying at CCCU prepare you for your current role?

It taught me to always be one-step ahead of yourself and be totally prepared. Challenges constantly arise in this industry so knowing your stuff, believing in what you’re doing and being organised are all crucial.

Do you have a favourite memory of your time at CCCU and/or did you gain anything additionally positive from your time with us that you did not expect to?

I had a great time studying at CCCU. It was hard work and came with its challenges but it all helped me get to where I am today. I am extremely passionate about what I do and I had lecturers around me who were the same about their jobs, which was inspiring to me. I am very grateful to have a life that completely revolves around music and performing arts and I love every second of it. Completing my degree was the stepping-stone to making my dream jobs a reality and I would like to thank CCCU for giving me that opportunity.

Many thanks to Louise to answering our interview questions. If you’d like to follow what Louise is up to you can visit her personal website, that of her academy or her band. Everyone at the School of Music and Performing Arts wish her the best of luck in her career!

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  • Has this graduate story inspired you to study with us at Christ Church? Read about the BA Performing Arts programme on which Louise studied and how to apply on our website here.