Happy International Women’s Day!


We’re back with the latest instalment of SPOTLIGHT where we point the spotlight inconspicuously at the Lewisham Music team, delving into their lives, unearthing top tips and secrets along the way.


As it’s International Women’s Day we thought we’d pop the spotlight on one of Lewisham Music’s leading voices (quite literally!), Clare Caddick, our Vocal Leader.


We caught up with Clare to find out a bit about her role, her experiences and inspirations in music as a woman, her favourite woman artists, and some top vocal tips.


Clare conducting.
Clare leading the massed voices at the Royal Festival Hall.

As Vocal Leader for Lewisham Music, Clare plays a pivotal role in organising and presenting large-scale choral events at venues such as the Royal Festival Hall and Blackheath Halls. You’ll often find her tirelessly travelling to schools around Lewisham and getting hundreds of young people to sing together in harmony.


Clare also provides training, offers guidance to teachers and schools in the borough, and advises on music provision. When she’s not doing all of that, Clare leads the Live Voices Choirs from our community music spaces in Bellingham.




Who are the women in music that have inspired you most


The women who have inspired me most were my music teachers. It was these women that noticed I had an interest in music classes and encouraged me to start the flute and piano, but also to sing in choirs from an early age. They supported me and made sure I was given opportunities along the way. A good music teacher makes all the difference – thanks Mrs Jarmen, Elizabeth Cohen, Gina Roberts, Jo Fitzgerald, Jenny Worstall, and all the others.


Clare leading the young singers at Turning of the Year.



Tell us a bit about your journey in music as a woman


I was not allowed to be in the local church choir because it was for boys only, but when they needed extra voices, they used to ask me to sing, but from behind a pillar! This has had a serious impact on my belief that boys and girls should sing together all the way through. Most cathedrals and church choirs are addressing this by allowing girls to join now, but many are still operating single gender choirs.


Growing up in the 70s and 80s, the classical music industry at that time was heavily dominated by men and female conductors barely even existed with limited opportunities for women to break into roles such as conducting, composing, and playing certain instruments. I remember the very first time I realised that one of my flute pieces was written by a woman – Cecile Chaminade – I was 19!


Clare conducting at the Southbank Centre.

The lack of role models and scarcity of women in the industry meant that the idea of pursuing a conducting career was hardly conceivable when I left university. I have gradually found my way as a conductor, making my own opportunities, starting a choir whilst I was still at school, putting on concerts with an orchestra of friends at university and standing in for friends when they couldn’t make rehearsals, noticing the surprise as I arrive at a new organisation that assumes that a man will lead. I’ve had to prove myself worthy to conduct on many an occasion.




I have huge admiration for artists like Raye, standing up for themselves and putting their own beliefs and creativity to the forefront despite the pressure to conform. She is a fabulous talent and inspiration to so many young musicians.


The music world has changed so much and at a fast pace, but there is still much work to be done to address gender imbalance within music, and this is part of the reason I wanted to become Vocal Leader form Lewisham Music. Inclusivity and representation work hand in hand, seeing yourself represented in spaces and careers that inspire you can push you towards starting a career in a field that you’re passionate about. Hopefully young people will see me as a positive role model and feel inspired to want to pursue music.


Who are your favourite women artists


There are quite a few to choose from, but – Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Raye, Maria Friedman, Ella Fitzgerald, Lisa Davidsen.


Clare leading young singers at SongFest.





What are some top vocal techniques every young singer should know

Always take the time to warm up your voice properly. I think it’s good to find some regular exercises in each of these categories: Breathing. Physical (stretching, relaxation, breathing). Vocal (lip trills, sirens, scales and arpeggios, vowels. Articulation (tongue twisters, consonant rhythms).


Did you know?


It takes 24 hours for hydration to reach your vocal cords, so drink lots of water the day before you need to sing!


“My daughter was singing with Dalmain choir, and she was almost too nervous to come. She is autistic and very full of worry and low self-esteem at the moment. To see her singing her heart out, and so happy, meant the world to me. ‘I can’t stop smiling mum’ she said afterwards.”



We just wanted to leave you with this epic feedback from Turning of the Year, one of the many events Clare leads. This really highlights just how important Clare’s work is, she’s doing great things – who wouldn’t want to follow in her footsteps!


If you want any singing advice then get in touch and we’ll ask Clare to answer your questions. If you’re in years 3-11 then come and have a sing in one of Clare’s Live Voices Choirs on Tuesdays in Bellingham (link below) – you won’t regret it! We’ve also got other singing opportunities so make sure you check out our guide below.


See you next time as the spotlight moves on!