Growing up in Hollywood, California, Bret L Thompson studied extensively under celebrity vocal coaches Roger Love, Seth Riggs, Patricia Prince Mozingo and Nathan Lamb. Bret’s learned from the very best the music industry has to offer. Technically, Bret liberally draws from all his mentors but tends to lean upon the personalized teacher-training of Roger Love. In addition to his strong technical base, Bret labored for decades in recording studios, and brings to the table a deep understanding of what a vocal coach would desire from a protégé singer technically, while remaining ever mindful of what a record producer needs to keep the vocals emotional and in the moment. In addition, Bret L Thompson has worked as an A&R talent scout for a major label and is openly willing to share any and all career advice with any aspiring student.
On top of private instruction, Bret L Thompson has taught Secondary School courses in Music, Choir, Theatre, AP History, Honors Economics and General Education. Bret has been a Speaker at National and International Academic Conferernce in the field of Music Education, and continues to work on Post-Graduate Research with UCLA’s Music Ed Department. Most importantly he’s remained a working musician and Hollywood Hills Recording Studio owner throughout his varied career. Bret continues to work and employ professionally as a studio owner Consuelo Studios, songwriter, band leader, engineer, producer, vocal producer, vocal engineer, hired singer pianist or guitarist, song doctor, ghost writer, programmer, and all around “key man” on original projects. Bret has recorded, toured, and performed his own original works in the United States, France, United Kingdom and Switzerland. He applies to vocal instruction rare and invaluable knowledge learned throughout his ongoing international recording career to those students who have the desire to reach their artistic peak.
Academically, Bret L. Thompson Graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor in History with a his Bachelor’s Paper on Mozart and the 18th Century Enlightenment, and obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a specialization in the Sociology of Music. Bret continues his academic post-graduate research in the field of Music Education and has lectured on cutting edge Music Education training techniques at both national and international conference.
A brief Q & A interview with Bret
Q: Tell a little bit about how you started.
A: I am one of those fellas who you can honestly say that music saved me. Don’t get it twisted, Hollywood was not an easy place to grow up and pretty much all my childhood friends wound up in some incredibly dark places.
A couple great things happened in my formative years though, and both hinged upon both music and the Los Angeles studio scene. The local Little League Baseball was, for want of better terminology, nothing but a den of pre-pubescent iniquity. However, as fate would have it the park was directly across from Motown’s Hitsville West. Some legendary producers held court in the Hitsville parking lot, sat in the bleachers, and even played a little tennis now and again by my Baseball field on Poinsettia Park’s public courts. I finagled my way into an invite, quit hanging out with local stoners, and started hanging out with hit songwriters. Though initially shocked by my presence, they accepted me into their world as an oddity and started showing me how to make records, what worked musically and what didn’t. Basically, they taught me invaluable life lessons all the time knowing that they were keeping this crazy white boy from becoming another Hollywood casualty. Many of them I still consider to be part of my extended family.
Second, inevitably I did find my way into a decent amount of trouble at quite a young age seeing as my local friends were so good at raising hell. When my parents caught wind of what was going on, they forbade me from associating with my clique (who were luckily still too young to get me in THAT much trouble); however, my Dad took pity on me and said that I could take music lessons from anyone and everyone I wished. Being away from my chums made me realize what dangers these kids were really taking; conversely, I went a little hog wild on taking from the best the music industry LA had to offer. What I guess I am saying is that while all the people I grew up with did their forays into Hollywood decadence and the depravity this town is famous for, I became acutely in touch with this city’s consistent striving for excellence and the discipline it takes to get you to that exalted level.
Q: Where did you receive the lion’s share of your training as a Vocal Instructor/Coach?
A: Well on the technical side, Roger Love and to a lesser extent this lady named Patricia Mozingo. I have known Roger since I was 13 or 14 and he has been in my corner ever since. I started UCLA in the Music Department, but quickly realized that between Roger, and Seth Riggs (who I also took from), I knew all I needed to know so I opted to get my BA in History. Patty taught me tons as well and it is a great thing to say you have not only used one person’s vocal technique your whole entire life, even though Roger Love always remains my true mentor.
At one point I was there doing warm-ups in preparation for an album and Roger simply said “Why aren’t you working for me? Let me train you.” The funny thing was that at this point I had professionally taught everything but voice, and needless to say I took him up on his offer. Roger gave me my pedigree as a Voice Teacher, but if you want to know what sets me apart, that is a different story. What makes me powerful is a good basic knowledge of the human voice and the ability to get students where they need to go as quickly as possible.
Q: In your opinion, what makes you unique as a Vocal Teacher:
A: Most Vocal Teachers come from a classical background. Me, I come from a private training background flanked by ample time in music production. This makes me a unique resource. I have run a recording studio since I was in my late teens and as wound up personally running the sessions with whatever vocalist was working that date. That’s a different mode of communication cause you gotta connect with the listener on so many different levels. There are simple things like accents, pitch, enunciation, doubling, stacking, post-production, but then you get into this zone where right-is-right one minute then wrong-can-be-just-as-right a moment later. Plus, the things I know about making a great sounding record that suits the vocalist are such that I can really guide an aspiring singer in the right direction while working within their means. I mean top singles of today have come from Garageband and Acid. It is a great time to be an aspiring Vocalist. One of the changing things in our epoch is that you don’t always need to start your ideas on premium equipment. But at the end of the day not only does the vocalist have to achieve his/her goal, there is a huge premium on not hurting one’s self in the process.
Q: Do you have any particular aspirations as a Vocal Teacher
A: The education I received in my youth caused me to completely fall in love with the music as an art form in the diverse areas of singing, playing, performing, songwriting, producing, engineering, even little things like choosing microphones and compressors. Growing up in the music industry showed me that there are a buncha’ lost famous people; however, the most content peoples were the ones truly in love with the daily craftsmanship behind remaining a high quality professional. That’s what I am all about.
I aspire to expose a pathway towards loving music in all ways and forms. That way when the trials and tribulations of career gets in the way, my students are provided with a decent inroads back to what made them passionate about Singing and/or Music Production in the first place.
Q: What do you think of the rise of Online Teaching and the new breed of teachers who focus upon teaching a single song or performance?
A: The Internet is wonderful. Especially in our Post-CoVid world it is a great way to work. But there is nothing new under the sun. Successful Vocalists and Teachers have been working over Landline Telephone since the 1970s. Frankly, the problem isn’t can one learn or can one teach effectively. The problem amounts to latency. And for that each case is different.
Lately there is a rise of Performance Coaches that gain popularity on TV as Vocal Performance Coaches. I have came across a few of them, and the difference with me is that I have made so many albums that in no way am I a frustrated performer. It must be stated that the true A Listers who have changed Vocal Teaching/Coaching [Roger Love, Eric Vetro, Seth Riggs] never once crossed this line into creativity and personality. Like the lions of the field, I promise to never fuse my own vision of music or performance on top of your voice and creative visions.
Let’s create a great vocal instrument to last your entire career. Then around that core, we will build you a pure and unique identity. And let’s also have some fun. Singing is supposed to be fun.