A Prestigious Musical Director Speaks to Singers

Mike Dixon Conducting for Dame Shirley Bassey at Glastonbury in 2007
An award-winning Musical Director shares insights with singers

Image: Mike Dixon Conducting with Dame Shirley Bassey at Glastonbury, 2007

Mike Dixon is an award-winning Musical Director, Musical Supervisor, conductor and arranger – known widely for his work on stage and television.  

Mike worked directly with Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen in the creation of the musical, “We Will Rock You”, with Dame Shirley Bassey in Glastonbury in 2007 and conducted  La Cage Aux Folles at the London Palladium (1986/7).

A favorite quote that inspires you

“Be kind” – it works in any context and is such a good mantra.

An object that has inspired you in your musical work

My piano

Mike Dixon with Brian May at the end of We Will Rock You in London 2014

A vocal artist who inspires you? 

Mel Tormé – his singing is silky smooth and always dead in tune – but he also means everything!

What insights do you most want to pass on to DIY singers as a musical director?

Make sure the balance between the piano/guitar/back track and your voice is good.  We need to hear the words and generally your phone camera’s microphone will do an amazing job but it will not sort that balance out!  Check things before you start. 

Mike’s view of the RPO at Abbey Road Studio 1

You’ve worked with so many characteristic  solo voices – are there any common musical elements between them that we can learn from?

Belief in what they are singing – this comes from absolutely knowing the material. 

Thinking of self-taught singers, what musical skills would you encourage them to learn so that they can enjoy a long musical career?

Breath control and learning to always use support.

What are some approaches to vocal health or technique that you think served singers well that you have worked with?

As simple as it sounds the most basic thing is to breathe before your first phrase.  It is amazing how many people have to be reminded to do that.

Mike Dixon with Joss Stone at Abbey Road for the BBC in 2013

You’ve worked with a number of outstanding soloists – can you mention a time when you had “goose bumps” listening to a vocalist?

Simple: two events, both with the same song – “I Am What I Am” – the first time I played the song in a full rehearsal of La Cage for George Hearn – and then 20 years later in a rehearsal room with Dame Shirley and our first run through of the same song with the full band.  She practically didn’t need the microphone.  Major tingles both times!

What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?

A big Gershwin project with Leslie Bricusse. Also, I have made a recording of ‘Mike at the Piano – the Lockdown Recordings’ which is released on 21st May – but not yet in the USA!

Mike Dixon’s Website  |  Mike’s Blog  | Mike on YouTube

Mike Dixon finishing a concert at the London Palladium in 2018 for BBC

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