Vocal teacher Rosie Williamson: ‘My guru of musical theatre perfection is Julie Andrews’

Rosie Williamson. Photo: Darren Bell Rosie Williamson. Photo: Darren Bell
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Rosie Williamson teaches at Arts Educational Schools London, the Sing Space and in her private vocal practice. She tells John Byrne about the best and worst aspects of her job…

How did you start off in theatre? 

By nagging my dad to play countless show tunes on the piano and letting me sing until past my bedtime.

What is your best advice for musical theatre students?

Find the fun, and snap, the job’s a game.

What would you change about drama and musical theatre training in the UK?

The cost.

What is the best part of your job?

Getting to know my students as individual artists, helping them find freedom in their singing, working on technical, musical and dramatic detail technically and seeing their progress.

And your least favourite?

Working as a one-to-one coach can be lonely.

Which practitioners do you most admire/ who should students be looking up to?

My blog and cabaret night – both called ‘What Would Julie Do?’ – take hypothetical advice from my guru of musical theatre practical perfection, Julie Andrews. Qualities I admire in her and look for in others include generosity, gratitude, resilience, a great sense of humour and a desire to adapt, learn and make something good.

What is the one skill that every successful actor should have?

Tenacity. Julie once said: “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Try to see failures as an opportunity to learn and take action – even if you fail 201 times.

What’s your advice for bridging the gap between singing regularly on a course and keeping up once you graduate?

Carve out the time to practise and take lessons. Learn that song you’ve been wanting to learn for ages and sing it at an open mic night. Also, apply to sing at the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s monthly play-through: around 120 instrumentalists and singers get together to rehearse and perform the full score of a musical in a day. This is a brilliant way to keep your ensemble singing up to scratch if you can’t commit to joining a choir.