Biography

With a grandmother who was a singer and church organist, Jean began singing as a child. She commenced singing lessons in her teens, and while working in office administration, successfully pursued studies in singing, gaining first an Associate of the Trinity College, London, then a Licentiate, and finally a Fellowship. During this period she gave recitals and broadcasts in Sydney. Later, moving to Western Australia she undertook first an Honours degree in Music at the University of Western Australia and then a research Masters degree in music and language. She was active as a singer in recital, operetta and oratorio. It was at this time that she began teaching singing and lecturing in music at the University and at teachers’ colleges in Perth.

In 1979 Jean moved to London for intensive vocal studies with Erich Vietheer and to pursue a full-time career as a dramatic mezzo soprano in concert and opera. From 1980 to 1982 she worked for Kiel Opera (Germany). From Kiel, she returned to Sydney, where she has been based ever since.

In Sydney, she has been a leader in professional associations such as the Australian National Association of Teachers of singing, the interdisciplinary Australian Voice Association, and the Association of Music Education Lecturers. She has worked in private practice with professional singers and music theatre performers as well as developing singers. She was an academic at the University of Western Sydney for 17 years, beginning as a part-time teacher of singing, then becoming a full-time Senior Lecturer in Singing, then an Associate Professor of Singing. During her time as a full-time academic she completed a PhD on singing and voice science, then published a book on that subject. At UWS she was for a time head of the actor-training program, then co-ordinator of the postgraduate and research area of the School of Contemporary Arts. For UWS she designed and delivered Australia’s first comprehensive vocal pedagogy program.

Since 2003 Jean has worked freelance in Sydney (in inner-city Forest Lodge). She has produced a second edition of her book, Singing and Science, and written chapters on singing pedagogy for three books. After many years of regular teaching, she is now concentrating on short-term projects such as helping singers prepare for specific roles, or for auditions, or to deal with particular vocal difficulties. She is still in demand for lectures and masterclasses on all things vocal and musical, and as a voice consultant, researcher, and adjudicator.