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Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed YouTuber and musician Mitchell Hutchings about the work that goes into his YouTube Channel, what inspires him to make his educational videos, and what he hopes to accomplish.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am a classically trained American singer. I regularly perform in opera and musical theatre, and I currently hold the position of Assistant Professor of Voice at Florida Atlantic University. When I am not performing or teaching, I act as a vocal producer and arranger for commercial artists. I love performing, but my passion is helping other singers achieve their goals.
My story is unique as I have sung everything from Bach to Black Sabbath. When I was younger, I was in a cover band that played Incubus, Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne, and other rock/alternative/metal artists. I think I even sang a song or two from Tool back then.
When I began my journey in higher education at 18 years old, I started focusing on classical singing. I got in touch with a fantastic voice teacher and quickly found myself in the chorus of my first opera, Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles. I did not know what I was getting into, but I thought I would give it a try.
I kept studying classical vocal technique and found that I genuinely enjoyed it. Building the singing voice is a lot like putting a complicated puzzle together. The process is very gratifying. So, I continued singing at university and finished my degree. After gigging professionally for a few years, I decided to continue my education. I completed my doctorate at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, in 2018.
How and why did you start making YouTube videos?
Many years ago, I started my YouTube channel and initially used it as a performance video repository, a common practice among young artists in the opera world. But, I always felt my channel could be a little more dynamic. I wanted to grow my content to provide singing advice and educational videos, not just examples of my performance work. By learning to optimise YouTube, I can now use that knowledge to talk with my students about their channels and content creation. I feel like I have a much further reach utilising this platform. It all revolves around my passion for helping people.
I use my distinctive performance experience to inform my teaching no matter what kind of artist walks through my door. I believe that the traditional voice teacher is often limited to one genre or another. Musicians in the 21st century should be able to jump from one style to the next seamlessly.
What is your channel called, and how did you come up with the name?
My channel is my name, Mitchell Hutchings, and my handle is mhvoicestudio, which matches all my other social media.
What do you make videos about?
I make vocal warm-up and exercise videos, teaching demonstrations, pitch practice, and performance videos.
Do you have a particular series you’re working on, or do you vary your content?
My content varies, but I am in the middle of producing a series of studio masterclasses, which are a lot of fun. In these videos, students sing a song, and I work with them on interpretation, musicality, and singing diction. Sometimes, we will dive deeper into vocal technique, but I usually leave that for individual lessons.
What inspired you to start making videos and what do you hope to accomplish?
When the pandemic started, I felt like I had lost many of my creative outlets. As a voice professional, my world has changed significantly since 2020. Live performances come and go with each COVID wave. Teaching virtually is a nightmare, and giving voice lessons in masks is nearly as bad. So rather than sitting around getting upset about things, I decided to try and capitalise on social media. I studied how to build a following and started creating content.
Do you feature in your videos personally, or make your videos from other content?
My channel is still relatively new. While my account has been “active” since 2011, I only recently started to put a lot of time into it. I have what I would consider a modest number of videos. Almost everything was self-produced. Because I am still learning, I am open to trying new things. For example, I think the vocal coach/teacher reaction videos are compelling. Maybe I will try that someday.
Do you feature other people on your channel in the form of interviews or co-hosting?
This is something I have thought about for the future. It is hard to go beyond the scope of what I am doing currently because of my career as a voice professor. However, much of the creative activity that I publish on my channel is also beneficial to my primary profession, and it often features students from my studio. I have seen first-hand that making this content publicly available for everyone to view helps recruit students at the university. The problem is that video editing and uploading in 4K takes hours!
Do you edit your own videos or have someone who does it for you?
I always edit my own videos.
Do you script your videos, or just chat as you go?
So far, everything I do is unscripted and unplanned. Once the camera is rolling, it is reality television.
Do you have any specific equipment you use, such as camera, lighting, screens etc? Or are you a mobile phone camera user?
I just got an iPhone 13, and the cinematic feature is fantastic!
How has your YouTube channel changed or developed since you began?
It now has a life of its own. I always consider what new projects might work as exciting content for a new series.
What are your biggest challenges with your YouTube channel?
Time is the biggest challenge. No question. But, I also have to feel a creative surge to get everything done. I complete everything I do on my channel in the “extra” hours of the day. If I lack energy, it just will not get done. The beauty is there are no strict deadlines. I like that freedom a lot.
What are your favourite YouTubers to watch?
I am a nerd and a huge DIY person, so I end up watching a lot of tutorials. Barnacules Nerdgasm is great for Adobe Premiere help and MrRangerZr1 for when I need to work on my car. I have a couple of friends that have channels I keep going back to including @prodbychrisk for beats, The Way Down Wanderers for awesome Americana music videos, Roger Hale for choir warm-ups, and Ivywild for a brand-new project from GRAMMY® award-winning singer Jessica E. Jones.
How and where do you promote your YouTube channel?
I promote a lot on Instagram stories and through my network on Facebook that I have built for 15 years.
Do you earn money from YouTubing, or is it a hobby?
YouTube is currently a hobby, but it enhances my voice studio teaching.
What’s something you never expected about being a YouTuber? What have you learned that surprised you?
I have spent time editing audio since I was a teenager. I thought the transition to video would be a piece of cake, but it truly is a different medium. Creating videos is a multi-media art form that requires a lot of practice, patience, and hard work. Even though I have worked on many videos, I feel like I only see the tip of the iceberg so far.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start a YouTube channel?
You will want to give up. You will get very little interaction at first. You may even feel like you are working behind closed doors for content that no one will see. My advice is: if you like making videos and it gives you a creative outlet, do it. If you keep improving, people will start watching.
And, finally, are you proud of what you’re accomplishing with your YouTube channel? Is it worth the effort?
I am proud of my students, who are often part of the content creation. The effort is always worth it.
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