We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Hinkle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, what matters most to you?
Singing is one of the most vulnerable and personal things a person can do. It takes such bravery to actually sing out-loud, alone, and try to do it well. When you’re singing, the very instrument you’re playing exists inside of your body! Since it’s such a personal and emotional activity, I truly believe that the voice can’t be separated from personal growth and self-acceptance.
So often singing is approached with harsh rules, aggressive exercises, and unforgiving expectations. But I deeply feel that nothing stops a singer from progressing more than fear and self-doubt. I believe when singing is taught with understanding and compassion towards the individual and their emotions, every singer learns faster and can overcome the challenges that hold them back more efficiently. The most difficult sticking places a person can face aren’t in the voice, but in their mind!
Singing isn’t magic. Everyone can learn to sing if they do the right techniques – using your vocal chords to produce pleasing sound is really just science. So, what makes some people so amazing? Practice and good technique play a part, of course (no surprises there). But I’ve found that nothing transforms a singer more than working to overcome their own limiting beliefs and self-imposed roadblocks.
For example, releasing tension while you sing is important. But constantly reinforcing “relax, relax, relax” won’t actually help someone succeed. Taking a step back and looking at WHY a singer isn’t able to relax is. Sometimes it’s as simple as being afraid to make a mistake or sing off-pitch. So, we sing off-pitch intentionally! And nothing bad happens! And suddenly, relaxing isn’t that hard. At other times, the reasons are more complex, but the same idea applies. Addressing the underlying reason something is happening allows transformative change to happen naturally.
Singing is personal and part of being human. It’s natural and beautiful, and because of that, it’s tied intimately to what it is to be a human being. Facing the personal challenges that stop someone from successfully performing techniques helps singers learn faster, retain the improvement over time, and feel happier and more confident when they’re singing. That’s why I believe so deeply in teaching all of someone, and not separating the human being from their voice.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m a self-employed voice teacher and vocal coach. I truly believe that everyone is a natural-born singer. Throughout history, many cultures have used music and sound to enhance their way of life. Anyone who has the desire to sing can be taught, and as a vocal instructor, I make it my goal to find every student’s own voice instead of just forming them into a preconceived mold. Each voice is like a unique diamond; it just has some dirt on it. It is my job to help each student wipe off that dirt to reveal the beautiful gem beneath.
I say I teach people but not “singers,” because singing should be an enhanced part of your life, not a separate activity. Singing is a musical form of expression and I believe it can impact a person’s life beyond the obvious skill-based applications. I encourage my students to be creative and express themselves through music in a way that enhances their personal relationship with themselves and others.
In today’s society, much of what we learn is based on logic and structure. And I believe singing is just science. That’s one of the reasons I feel everyone can sing! My teaching method applies that structure as the foundation, but also encourages creativity and natural instincts to become the primary focus. I find that this is particularly fulfilling for the creative-minded person. And most importantly, I believe that singing should always be fun and fulfilling even while the student is growing and learning.
It took me a long time to narrow in on exactly what my philosophy is and how I can help people with different experiences and backgrounds to become the singer they want to be. And I found that every singer is different and unique, and if I listen carefully, I can hear what they really need. And that’s when I can make a difference, help them overcome their challenges, and help them learn how to use their instrument to make the art that wakes them up inside.
Singing is where art meets science, and is something entirely human and alive. I’ve learned to embrace all aspects of a person and their voice, and I’ve built my business around that philosophy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re coming to LA, check out all the performing arts! The Ahmanson and Pantages theaters have the big musicals, but go see some of the shows in the smaller theaters. Los Angeles is full of talent! See as much art as you can!
I also love gardens, so Huntington Gardens, the Arboretum, and Descanso Gardens are all wonderful day trips! And there are some amazing museums around here. Go see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum for sure! Will Rodgers Beach is a favorite. And I have to admit I’ve taken the short drive to Disneyland a million times!
Some of my favorite restaurants are Stout for the burgers and onion rings, and Masa of Echo Park has the best deep dish Chicago pizza around here! And Cardamom Indian Cuisine is a great place for amazing Indian food.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I know I could never have gotten where I am now if I hadn’t been encouraged, trained, and supported by my personal tribe! And while I’m sure most parents are supportive of their kid’s dreams, my parents went above and beyond to support my love of music.
I had a huge interest in music and singing for as long as I can remember. I was begging for voice lessons by the time I was 6, and didn’t stop taking lessons until I was out of college. I was in musicals, classes, and anything and everything I could find. It was such a huge part of my life that my parents even got super involved! My mom started a performing arts academy at my Jr. High so I’d have somewhere to learn, and my dad painted sets and performed with me!! Their love and encouragement laid the foundation for all my success.
The other amazing mentor I am honored to recognize is my college voice teacher Dr. Myrona DeLaney. Myrona is the reason I specifically went into teaching. She took me under her wing as a freshman in college, and was honest with me from the start about all the things that went into musical theatre and singing. She encouraged me to face my weaknesses and supported me in overcoming my shortcomings. And she is the person who finally sat me down and explained why she thought I’d be a great teacher and all the opportunities I was missing by not taking a risk and trying it.
I was resistant at first since I’d only ever performed, but she had been so honest and upfront with me in the time I’d worked with her, I trusted her enough to give it a go. And it turned out to be the best decision of my life! In fact, I realized I LOVED teaching, way more than even performing myself! After she set me up with a handful of students, I realized I never wanted to go back to performing because my soul lit up when I helped others explore and improve their own voices. Changing my focus was scary at first, but she was there to answer questions and guide me along until I found my footing. Now, I can’t imagine a life where I chose any other path.