Andrew Doig

22nd April 2011 at 01:00
A singing teacher with infinite patience and a remarkable insight into voice training

Andrew Doig, who has died after a short illness at the age of 64, was a much loved and highly respected teacher of singing for more than 35 years at the Ian Tomlin Academy of Music at Edinburgh Napier University.

On leaving Beath High, near his home in Lochgelly in Fife, in 1963, Andrew initially studied piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) but became increasingly interested in singing. After graduating with a DipMusEd in piano in 1967, he continued to study the voice at RSAMD.

As a freelance baritone, Andrew combined freelance teaching for Stirling County at the same time as gaining great experience in the part-time professional chorus of Scottish Opera in many of their legendary productions with Sir Alexander Gibson, and later in Edinburgh, performing unusual, major roles for Edinburgh Grand Opera.

In 1971, he was invited by Neil Butterworth to join the staff at the Edinburgh College of Commerce - later to become Edinburgh Napier University - not expecting to be there for the rest of his teaching career.

As a teacher, Andrew had the ability to make a single point understood by his students - almost as if they had discovered it themselves - and had a way of nurturing that point carefully without labouring it.

After every lesson, the students would have learnt something important - and, furthermore, would know that they had and be enthused to work on it. His work was remarkable for his insights, not only into the techniques of voice training and the music itself, but for his understanding of the psychology of productive teaching: infinite patience, working from a constantly encouraging standpoint, kindness, empathy and his rare gift of being able to get into the mind (and voice) of the student and work things out from there.

During the 1990s, he became particularly interested in the remarkable work of Jo Estill, something he shared with his distinguished colleague Joan Busby. As a result, Estill voice craft, a toolkit for the understanding of how the voice works, was introduced as part of the singing curriculum and several international courses and back-up classes on Estill have since been run at Napier. Between them, Andrew and Joan created a highly- regarded vocal department, producing an impressive number of students who would subsequently become established professional singers and teachers.

Andrew retired from Edinburgh Napier University in 2007, but continued to teach students who were still in his care. In August 2009, he was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer and continued to support his students to the last.

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