Learn singing, songwriting, and music production with

David Holler

Singing and Songwriting in English

David is an accomplished singer, songwriter, music producer, and vocal coach. He’s written songs with Anna Rossinelli, Stefanie Heinzmann, Luca Hänni, Grammy-nominee Ben Mühlethaler, Roman Camenzind, D.J. Bobo, and others. As a recording artist, David's album 'Offline Friends' featured 5 songs which were regularly played on Radio Swiss Pop and Radio Swiss Jazz. His father, Dick Holler, has written songs for Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Bellamy Brothers, Cher and Bob Dylan. As a vocal coach, he’s frequently worked for the HitMill in Zürich and Universal Music. David was also the personal vocal coach for Roger Federer and his 9 choir singers in the popular 'Sunrise We' commercial in 2020.

David Holler also offers distance learning.

How does distance learning work for us?


10 lessons of 45 min.: CHF 1050

For children, 30-minute lessons are also possible.

portrait of David Holler


Birchstrasse 414
8052 Zürich


Singing, songwriting, and music production

Music style

Pop, rock, country, blues, hip-hop, alternative, indie pop, and indie rock


Beginner, Advanced, and Master




David Holler teaches students from 10 years

Interview with David Holler

Which musician has influenced you the most?
I would say Paul McCartney. Not only because of his remarkable output as a songwriter, but also because of his work ethic. Amazing that he plays bass, drums, piano, guitar, sings, writes, produces and performs his own songs concerts even at the age of 81. He’s always been a great source of inspiration.

What can you teach me on your instrument better than any other teacher?
Songwriting; especially in writing lyrics to music and melody. One advantage is that I've been a DIY independent singer-songwriter and recording artist since 2012. This has provided me with a deep understanding of the intricate interplay between creativity, marketing, and music. It is this wealth of knowledge and experience that I eagerly share with my students.

Singing. As an English native, I can detect unnatural sounds that a non-native English singer or teacher might not hear. Shockingly, some professional music projects spend a lot of money for music production and marketing, but hesitate to invest in vocal coaching for their singers. In my opinion, a poor vocal with an unnatural accent can ruin a project. My approach involves rigorous rehearsals, line by line practice and revision to ensure a superior vocal performance that students and artists can be proud of. I firmly believe that regardless of a singer's skill level, there is always room for improvement. Even the world's best singers have coaches.

How did you learn to sing?
When I was a boy my dad would let me play with his 4-track Dokorder tape machine. It was a new world for me; the best toy any kid could ever have. That’s where I learned to double-track my voice and add my own harmonies. However, the noise drove my dad crazy, so he restricted my playing and singing to 2 hours a day. 

Fast forward 20 years, the person who really taught me to sing was Ron Anderson, who I’ve mentioned before. I was booked to perform a full month in Europe playing piano and singing six nights a week, five hours a night, when I sought Ron's expertise in preparing myself. Through his intensive training, I learned invaluable techniques which helped me utilize and strengthen my voice. His method involves singing very softly, almost like whispering, and gradually increasing the volume. This approach, coupled with his warm-up exercises were instrumental in my vocal development. Today as a professional vocal coach, I now have the privilege of passing on Ron's techniques and knowledge to my students.

How do you go about writing a song or composing a piece yourself?
In my studio (The Dave Cave), I typically begin by sitting down at the piano with my iPhone. I press record and start improvising melodies while singing gibberish (words that don’t make any sense) for about 5 to 10 minutes. Afterwards, I play the recording several times and select parts that I like. From there, I take those chosen sections and structure them into a song.

The process of writing lyrics takes longer. Having a title as a starting point is beneficial. I usually engage in a brainstorming session: jotting down anything that comes to mind. As a songwriter, my job is to capture all ideas without judgment on whether they are good or bad. At this stage, my focus is on quantity, not quality. I then experiment by interchanging lines and phrases, playing with different combinations. Gradually, the music and the lyrics are fine-tuned until I feel they are complete. I love the quote: 'A painting is never finished. It just stops in interesting places.' 

What equipment do you play on today?
For my live performances, I play on a Roland FP 90 keyboard which offers the most natural touch and feel I've experienced. My sound system is a Bose L1 Model II with B2 Bass Module and a ToneMatch mixer. Although not preferred by all musicians, I appreciate the ‘sound-spread’ it provides; covering a large area without overwhelming volume, ensuring that the sound is consistent for both the audience in the front and the back rows. In my recording studio, I use a Neumann TLM 49 microphone for vocals, which I run through an Avalon 737sp tube compressor. This setup perfectly complements the tone of my singing voice. I love it. For recording and producing, I work with Logic Pro X as my digital audio workstation (DAW).

What personal characteristic has helped you the most when practicing?
One personal characteristic that has greatly benefited me during practice is my sense of curiosity and genuine enjoyment in playing and singing. Being self-taught, I've always approached practicing as a playful exploration rather than a dull exercise. It feels more like a reward, much like a child who gets to play with his/her favourite toy.

What does your instrument have that others don't?
My Roland FP 90 keyboard has built-in speakers with a wood frame which sets it apart from other keyboards. While it may be a little heavy at 24 kg, this keyboard’s wood body generates an authentic warm sound that’s perfect for live performances and teaching.

What do you pay special attention to when teaching?
I have a student-centered approach: paying special attention to the student’s interests and aspirations which creates a personalized learning experience tailored to their individual needs. I also pay special attention to creating a supportive and nurturing atmosphere where students can feel comfortable experimenting. ‘There are no mistakes, only opportunities for feedback and growth.’

How do you structure your music lessons?

Initial Assessment: I first engage in a conversation to understand the student's musical background, interests, and goals. This helps me tailor the lessons to their specific needs and preferences. Students can bring songs they are working on, or maybe they want to create something completely new. Sometimes the process of writing a song starts with a simple conversation or a title.

Inspiration and Idea Generation:  I encourage students to draw inspiration from personal experiences, literature, movies, social media, or anything that sparks their creativity. I’ve always believed ideas for songs are easy to find when you start looking. It's like when you buy a new car; you see your car everywhere. The ‘teacher-student’ dynamic can also be a collaborative exchange, like a game of tennis, where ideas are bounced back and forth. As a coach and mentor, it's important to note that while I can offer creative recommendations and suggestions, the final creative decisions always rest with the student.

Song Analysis: Often we’ll analyze and dissect current songs from different genres to understand song structures, chord progressions, melodies, lyrics, and arrangements. This helps students gain insights into successful songwriting practices and inspires them to experiment with their own compositions.

Recording and Performance: not all students want to record and/or perform their songs in public; however, if they do, I can provide guidance on how to prepare for the studio and/or live performances. In my studio, I can also record basic vocal demos which students can use for future reference.

Feedback and Revision: I always encourage students to revise and refine their work continuously. I emphasize that songwriting is an evolving creative process. Whether you're an amatuer or professional, it’s essential to have a set time every week to sharpen your skills and work on your craft.

Writing lyrics: Here's a breakdown of how I teach writing lyrics:

Initial Assessment: As with songwriting, at the beginning of each lesson we discuss a student's aspirations and goals. Students can bring songs they're working on, have written or would like to write. Sometimes we just start with a title. This flexible approach allows for a more intimate and creative exchange of ideas. Like songwriting, I’ll offer suggestions and recommendations, but it’s up to the student to decide what the finished lyric will be.

Essential Tools (Utilizing Abundant Resources): I emphasize the wealth of resources available to both students and professionals. I share my toolbox, which includes on-line resources, mind-mapping, creative exercises, utilizing rhyming dictionaries, stream of conscious improvisation etc. Our aim is to evoke emotional resonance and nurture originality. When students are struggling with their lyrics (as all songwriters do at times), I can offer support; sharing what I've learned to help students refine and improve their work. 

Focus on Lyric Singability. Very often, lyrics may read well, but sound awkward when sung. That's why it's essential when writing lyrics to have students sing the words, not just read them. It's also important to know that some words can be implied (omitted), which allows more space melodically. Understanding these nuances can assist students in creating lyrics that sing well and seamlessly flow with the music.

Practical Application: Our lessons are a classic 'Learning By Doing 101.' Students get hands-on experience to solidify their understanding and skills they can use outside the classroom; equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to excel as lyricists and foster a lifelong passion for songwriting.

Vocal Coaching: Here's a breakdown of how I structure my voice lessons:

Warm-Up Exercise: We start each lesson with a dynamic warm-up session lasting around 10 minutes. This exercise is designed to enhance students vocal flexibility, expand range, and improve breath control. Subsequently, once this exercise is learned, students can warm up prior to our lessons.

Song Selection and Assessment: During this step, we work on practicing a song of the student's choice, whether it's a popular hit or an original composition. Students then sing the song, allowing me to get a general assessment and identify areas of improvement. I always emphasize a positive approach, as my guiding principle is 'There are no mistakes, only feedback.

Practice: As I listen to you sing the song a 2nd time, I'll make small suggestions using call-and-response techniques, similar to playing tennis. I sing the natural pronunciation, and you sing them back to me. As mentioned before, this can be a challenge for some non-native English singers who sing what they read rather than sing what they hear. My approach ensures that linguistic nuances do not interfere with the beauty and clarity of one's singing. Together, we take the Swissness out of your voice.

How do you approach children?
When teaching children, I am mindful of the potential intimidation they might feel when learning something new from an adult. My teaching approach revolves around fostering an enjoyable and stress-free environment, like a playground. Most of the time I let young learners choose the songs they want to learn; helping them stay engaged and enthusiastic. My approach is to provide constructive feedback as an observer, while keeping the learning experience light and fun.

What has been your greatest experience as a musician so far?
One of my most cherished experiences as a musician took place at The Glattzentrum. I heard a familiar melody coming from the Glattzentrum speakers - it was a song I wrote and recorded, 'Listen To The Bells,' playing on Radio Swiss Pop. Up until that moment, I had primarily only heard songs that I had co-written, but this was the first time I heard a song where I was the artist. Knowing Radio Swiss Pop reaches an audience of 1.5 million listeners each day, I realized my voice was being broadcasted in shops, houses, hospitals, train stations, and shopping malls throughout Switzerland. Since then, I've vowed to continue pursuing my own musical path, sharing my creative work, and teaching my students everything I've learned. After all, me being on national radio is not because of my good looks.

What was the biggest stage you played on?
Mammoth Lake Summer Festival, Mammoth, Ca. (5,000 people). 

Which musician would you like to play with?
Again, Paul McCartney because of his ability to play by ear; he could quickly play along to any song I'd written without sheet music. Additionally, his prolific songwriting skills would make him a perfect collaborator. Another dream collaboration would be performing my original songs with the Galatea Quartet featuring Sarah Kilchenmann. I’m serious. The idea of doing a show with her and a string quartet, showcasing my music, would truly be a dream come true.

Which record would you take with you to the desert island?
Released in 1971 when I was just 9 years old, 'Madman Across The Water' by Elton John. As a lover of piano and strings, this album resonates with me deeply. While it features timeless classics like 'Tiny Dancer' and 'Levon', my personal favorite is 'Indian Sunset'. This song, both musically and lyrically, beautifully portrays the plight of the American Indian. The orchestration and arrangement by Paul Buckmaster are simply remarkable.

On which stage would you most like to play or do you most like to play?
My preference would be playing piano and singing my original songs in a small theater setting. Whether as a one-man band or with a small orchestra, I envision creating a multimedia experience with a large screen, allowing me to showcase my music while engaging the audience by telling stories and recollections of my life, and as an American living in Switzerland.

What else is important in your life besides music?
Fitness, health, family, literature, art, philosophy, photography, astrophysics, cinema, U.S. history, and American Baseball.