Toby Hinson, singing coach and performer
After getting a part in Grease, Toby launched a long career in musical theatre. He now teaches singing and still performs with a band.
I was born in Colchester, Essex and grew up in Cornwall. From there I moved to London to follow my dream! I’m now living in Cheshire.
What job do you do?
I've built a career over the years as a musical theatre performer.
I also teach singing to adults and children of all ages, as well as doing a spot of big band gigging to keep up my artistic ego!
What previous jobs have you done?
I think most people in performing arts have had to do some other types of work, both before and sometimes in between jobs!
I've done more than my share. I've worked as a waiter, chef, travel agent, karaoke host, barman, and even a PA.
"I love the buzz and satisfaction that performing brings."
My first performing role was on cruise ships. Then I got the role of Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel in a national tour of Grease.
I’ve performed at the Royal Variety Performance, and twice at Alton Towers. I was in their Halloween ice show. I've also performed in a Disney show in the West End.
I’ve done a bit of film work too, and some voiceovers.
I also spent a couple of years as musical director, singing teacher and mentor at a theatre school.
What qualifications do you have?
I have eight O levels (what you did in the olden days before they invented GCSEs).
I always wanted to be in performing arts, and from a young age loved to sing. I loved drama and dressing up and putting on shows for the family!
I quickly realised that a musical theatre career was what I longed for, so I put all my efforts into music, drama and my weekly singing lesson.
What do you do at work?
These days I get up, have a coffee, look at my student list for the day, and mentally prepare what we will be working on that session.
“You have to stay focused.”
When I’m working in the theatre, my hours are very different from my everyday job, so I find I go to bed later and rise not much before lunch.
On a usual performance day, I’ll arrive at the theatre around 6pm. I'll do a vocal and physical warm-up and go over the show notes, before make-up and costume/wig fittings.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love to help others fulfil their goals with their voices. I also like to pass on some of the priceless information I have been given through the years.
I love the buzz and satisfaction that performing brings. It takes the audience away from lives for a couple of hours. We all need to escape sometimes to regroup our minds.
And the worst thing about the job?
The only thing I would say is that some days do feel a little monotonous.
Office workers often do different tasks throughout their days, whereas performers consistently have to do the same things at the same times every day. But I wouldn’t change any of it.
How do I get into music?
Work hard, and get as much advice as you can from people in the business who can really help you understand the workings of the job.
I was lucky to bump into singer Kiki Dee when I first came to London to work. She was an inspirational guru to me!
You have to stay focused. Remember, you will hear "no" more often than "yes" in this business, but the roles you do get will make it all worthwhile.