Former Grange Hill star teaches Bromley to sing
PUBLISHED: 15:39 08 November 2012
For anyone who grew up in the early 1980s, one Bromley singing teacher might just spark fond memories of sitting in front of the telly after a school day.
Part of the original Grange Hill cast for two years, Vinny Mann is often recognised by fans of the show as Antoni Karamanopolis who plunged to his death from a multi-storey car park.
Three decades on from his small screen debut, Vinny, 48, is teaching the people of Bromley to find their voice and beat embarrassment.
“After acting I got into bands and after a gig in Beckenham I was asked if I wanted to run a singing workshop,” he said.
“That was Studio Singers and we’ve been going for 20 years now.
“We get all sorts of people wanting to learn to sing, young and old.
“People come to me who are nervous about a presentation or something at work and we find their confidence through singing.”
Though age can vary, Vinny says the majority of his clients are those who have a house to run, kids to look after and are just looking to try something new.
Each term is given a theme, ranging from film soundtracks to Christmas hits, leading up to a showcase – which most initially try to escape.
Vinny said: “Usually people will phone up and say ‘I don’t want to perform’ but by the time it comes round they all want to get up and sing.
“We try to encourage people to go home and sing, which they can be afraid to do because of people in the next room hearing them – but we design exercises that keeps that from happening early on.
“By the end of the course those who were hiding at the back are standing right under the spotlight.”
Currently on a sabbatical after the deaths of his father and singing teacher, Vinny will be taking on a fresh batch of students in the New Year.
In his recent absence from Studio Singers, he has recorded an album in tribute to his former teacher, Ian Adam, who also taught the likes of Sarah Brightman and Bonnie Langford.
A student of Ian’s for 30 years, Vinny continued with lessons himself in order to help his students.
He said: “The very basic principle is that everyone can sing – I firmly believe that – but you have to learn how to sing well.
“If a student came to me with a very specific request or issue I wasn’t equipped to handle, I would take it to Ian and he would teach me.
“It was quite strange sitting there watching all the stars walk in and out of the door, but after a while it just became a part of my visits.”
The former actor is no stranger to being recognised and is a regular at Grange Hill reunions.
He added: “You’d be surprised how popular that show was, there’s a really big fanbase still and I’m always up and down to get-togethers.”
After 20 years with Studio Singers and stints with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Gay Men’s Choir, there are few vocal problems Vinny finds himself stumped by.
It’s his experience that means there is a long waiting list for Studio Singers, which returns in January.
For more information on learning with Vinny, contact him on 020 8778 2662 or visit www.studiosingers.co.uk.