Thursday, January 15, 2015

Case Study: What is the difference between a real singer and a showman?



Approximately a month ago, I received a student from the US who has been a professional singer all his life, but for the past while, he had begun experiencing some vocal problems; like a loss of high range, a raspy/hoarse voice and a collection of excess mucus in the throat, coupled with minor acid reflux.

He was experiencing fatigue with his voice and could no longer sing for prolonged periods of time.

That made my client very insecure and resulted in him refusing and cancelling upcoming gigs.

He originally arrived to me, per-registered for 20 hours of non-surgical voice repair sessions, but ended up taking 30 hours to learn the new vocal technique and to lose the bad habits adopted for the last 40 years being on stage. 

The voice repair was actually complete within 10 (maximum of 15) hours; the rest of the sessions were dedicated to mastering the actual singing performance.

It was not easy, as I told him, jokingly, even before we started, that it is not easy to teach the old dog new tricks. And no, it was not easy, but in the end, it was very rewarding on both ends.

Please read from (his own words), how he felt right after he arrived home:

“ My 2 gigs right after I got home went great.

I also mentioned before I left that I had a song to sing for a producer in France that I was looking forward to trying out the new technique -- it worked great-- I had just one day to do the lead and harmonies-- there were a lot of harmonies-- so I was singing pretty hard for a little over 7 hours.

Next day I felt fine -- tired physically, but that goes along with being old :) Everything worked and it really helped cement some things -- the circles and peripheral singing -- that's been a real hard one to get, but it's making sense now and I know with implementation and practice it will become second nature. 

The way I was able to make it make sense to my mind was to say "keep your eyes on the road" -- which of course, is what you were saying -- you used the GPS analogy, but I'm more old school :)”

Now, a month later, we have received another e-mail from the same client, who now has had the opportunity to test out the Vocal Science technique, combined with his performance skills (and my expertise on that matter), even further.



Please read below:

“The gigs this past week went great-- one major thing that I'm noticing is in what you stressed about keeping our eyes on the (singing) road. It's starting to come more naturally now and when it does, the audience reaction and connection is deeper and better in relation to how clearly I see the road (in fact, one of the gigs was a solo gig and I made way more tips than I have there in the past -- do I owe you a commission for that? :)

We know that as artists, singers and just as people, that we want and have to connect with the audience to allow the cycle to happen-- yes, of course, we have to talk to them and relate that way, but the deep meaningful connection happens on its own if we just connect with the song-- that's what the audience feels -- it's the difference between singing at them or to them.

If we're constantly monitoring what we sound like and what we look like, where is there room for the song?--that ability and opportunity for a deep connection goes right by us and we've missed our chance. As you like to say, go figure.

I know this is very simplistic, but whether it's sports, singing, or cooking etc. it's the basics that are often the most overlooked and the most important. As always, thank you :) ”

I think that the above is very profound. And Bob has been an incredible person and a very diligent and dedicated student; taking instructions with gratitude and adapting the newly learned skills right into his craft. 

And as we see, it worked “by the book”, so to speak. 

We know about some singers who are so, ‘me, myself and I... and my voice’, that cannot connect with the audience, as they have been listening to themselves and “enjoying” their own voice instead of singing it for the audience.

The others have another extreme. 

Their singing is not up to par and some of them are literally losing their voices right on stage and during their performances. However, the majority of them have good showmanship, which often they pass to cover-up their inadequacies in the actual singing field. 

I would call them the ‘Entertainers’ and not Singers.

However, the ideal combination of two would create the ultimate performance, as the technical and artistic merits would be in perfect harmony, (no pun intended).

The audience, in my opinion, should become more demanding and claim and feel entitled to experience the real true performance from the artists for their hard earned money.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Non-Surgical Voice Repair… How to Go About It?



Should you just work on your physical body, or should you just work on your voice?



The answer is: NONE of the above mentioned choices are right!


As per usual, I am receiving multiple e-mails from all over the world.

90% of those e-mails consist of quite long letters with all kinds of stories, primarily about the voice problems these individuals have been experiencing. The majority of them possess the notion that if something is wrong with their voice i.e. it sounds hoarse, their throat hurts and feels scratchy, they have excessive mucus in their throats and some have already been diagnosed with acid reflux, muscle tension dysphonia, and whatnot; it must be happening only on a physical level.

They do not realize that the majority of vocal issues become present because of the misuse of the vocal mechanics (speaking or singing). However, you cannot dismiss either of the above. If the physical body is already out of whack, so to speak, the wrong mechanics of the voice will reinforce all of the physical imperfections.

If the person is not exactly mentally and physically fit, it will surface that much stronger when the person’s voice will get drowned to the lower position; and thus will attract the mucus and gastric acid to the vocal box and the vocal cords in particular.

As sad as it sounds, when the speaker or singer is experiencing the symptoms of a raspy and hoarse voice, they run to the doctor just to be labeled with either acid reflux or muscle tension dysphonia, especially if no growth like nodules or polyps are present.

They are offered something like Gaviscon which you could buy over the counter and which could assist with the minor stomach trouble, but definitely has not much to do with fixing the voice, or even getting acid reflux off of the vocal box.

Once (mechanically speaking) the voice is flat and sits low in the position, no Gaviscon, or any other remedy, will get it out of there, unless the voice is physically recovered, lifted and restructured to the different set of muscles.

Once the voice finds its new “home” at the upper facial cavities, the surface of the vocal box will be released from the pressure of the sound; and thus will become available to except natural herbal and homeopathic remedies, which actually will aid a great deal to the damaged vocal anatomy.

What does it tell us?

It tells us that the remedies alone, (even the natural ones), will not be able to solve the vocal disorder on its own. It also tells us that to work on the vocal mechanics would be much easier if the vocal box would be lubricated, the vocal cords would be strengthened and all of the impurities, (like mucus and acid), will be eliminated.

So, one more time again, we are back to the holistic approach to vocal mechanics and overall to the human being.
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