Showing posts from 2010

Non Surgical Voice Repair II: Might Herbal Remedies Be Instrumental in Susan Boyle's Case?

In the first article, “Non-surgical Voice Repair. What’s that? Does it apply to Susan Boyle as well now...?”, I described the Sony artist’s performance on The View as being an unfortunate precedent. In that article, I was talking about her (in my opinion) beautiful, however improperly used voice and about my revolutionary Vocal Science technique, which could (no doubt) remedy that problem. Sometimes a performer may severely damage his/her vocal cords, larynx and even the whole vocal box while using the incorrect technique. In this particular instance then, the performer’s “instrument” is at stake.  In North America we have an expression, “He/she has a nice voice” (or good/great voice and what have you). That’s wonderful, but it’s only a description of the instrument. What about knowing how to “play” it? Imagine if Liberace, who had a famous great pink grand piano, suddenly would start playing it with his elbows? Funny, hah! But the singers with good voices, including Susan Boyle, are d

Non-surgical Voice Repair. What’s that? Does it apply to Susan Boyle as well now...?

Almost everybody knows now what happened to Susan Boyle on the television show “The View”. The question is why, and could it have been prevented? Being a vocal mentor and world renowned non-surgical voice repair specialist for over 35 years, I could say with absolute certainty that YES! It DEFINITELY could have been prevented if Susan, as well as many other renowned vocal performers, actually knew what they were doing with their voices and were using their voices upon design and not just by praying and keeping their fingers crossed while on stage (playing it by ear). You can clearly see the fear on Susan’s face about a minute before the disaster happened. She obviously knew intuitively that she would not finish that show, as she felt the restriction in her vocal box and knew there was no more space left to go anywhere except even deeper down into her throat where her vocal cords split and what I call “vocal impotence” had occurred.  Horrible!!! And every singer’s nightmare!!! But it c

What good is an encore performance if your voice dies before you get there?

After all these years of bigger and bigger live music shows, everyone that’s been to a concert, large or small, expects any great show to have an encore. So after singing, playing and entertaining the crowd for two or two and a half hours on average, the crowd expects the artist or band to come out and sing with the same excellence, energy and conviction another song or two to close the show. The problem is that the majority of singers are not singing it by design. And primarily they deliver their performance by what I call, ‘playing it by ear.’ That means that they do not have an adequate vocal technique or at least the knowledge about it, which would allow them to save and protect their voices, and make it last for hours on end. Ultimately, they’re using the wrong set of muscles while singing and thus using and abusing their vocal apparatus sometimes to the bitter end. It’s a known fact that even Celine Dion once lost her voice during her concert. Luckily she found a

Vocally Speaking - How to Realize a “Teenage Dream” to succeed in the Music Industry at Large

I started teaching since 1976 in Russia and at that time was teaching primarily kids grade 1 through grade 8. They too liked the pop music, which was hardly available for the easy listening with the exception of a couple of local stars and some Beatles hits, which were occasionally played on the radio. Nowadays, here in Canada and in Europe especially, pop singing is very popular amongst constantly rising young artists and of course the teenagers who are on a regular basis listening to them through their radios, iPods and phones, and who would want to emulate something similar in their dreams and who would also want to experience the glamour which they see and read about in fashion magazines and watching on YouTube. For some of them the dream will remain to be a dream, but for others it could become a reality. At the present time, I myself have been scouting a teenage talent, primarily amongst young girls age 14 - 22. Some of them have more potential and more vocal talent,

What is the secret to being a standout artist now and in the foreseeable future?

Everybody knows that writing and recording a good original song is an important key to one's success in the music industry. Not everybody knows or realizes, though, that you need to be able to sing that song in the exact fashion as it has been written; preferably in tune and with proper phrasing, inflection, emphasis, pronunciation and clarity. You also have to be able to use your voice correctly in order to survive more than one song performance and prevent long term damage. If you are capable of all of that, your listeners will respect you because the magic of your music consistently translates in live performances and isn't just artificially created in the studio. Also, the record labels will be more interested in you because you can bring your "A" game any place, any time. Furthermore, already respected and well-known artists will be more interested in featuring you on their records, which brings you exposure to their fanbases. Consumers these days are very smar

Media human spirit pollution and conditioning: How does it affect the music business in general and vocal performer in particular?

We all go to sleep and wake up with the news on the radio, TV or Internet. Usually, none of the news stories are positive. They typically speak about crimes committed on a daily basis, horrible accidents that are happening all the time, and the getting-worse-by-the-minute financial situation in the country and around the world globally. Also, they are reciting about new technology, which is being upgraded literally all the time and not necessarily for the betterment of humanity. Therefore, evidently, the world is becoming more dangerous, more financially unstable, more electronically oriented and much less personal. Speaking of personal, the media and marketing campaigns are promoting complete selfishness and ‘Me, Myself and I’ attitudes. Just listen to them; “My phone, my personal TV, iPhone, iTunes,”, in other words Me, Me, Me, Me… and Myself. With this philosophy, how is the human being supposed to care for another human being when it’s all self-oriented? How’s the performer able

Vocal Style: Channelling Your Emotions Into Your Vocal Performance

We all know the importance of proper vocal technique and its role in the safety and protection of a singer's voice. But how important is it to attach a singer's style and emotion to that technique? And where should those feelings come from? The answer, obviously, is: They have to come from within. I have a favourite saying, "Be it, Feel it, Love it, Live it". What I mean by that is that a performer has to identify not just with the style of the music, but also with the lyrics and message he or she wants to convey. This is easier for singers who write their own songs, but many mainstream top-40 artists do not, especially in Pop. Recently, I recorded a young artist who was covering Miley Cyrus's "Can't be Tamed" for a demo and that song requires a lot of staccato punch. The title of the song itself suggests strength, rebellion, power, self-esteem and self-worth. If that song is sung with softness instead of intensity, or without strong enough inflect

The Importance of Peripheral "Thinking" for Singers and Everyone Else... (For That Matter)

You are obviously familiar with the term "peripheral vision". Every driver knows that if they don't exercise their peripheral vision they might get into trouble, as when you're driving you have to watch front, back, left and right. It is that level of attention that will help you avoid an accident because you can catch an unexpected object racing at you with just the corner of your eye. Personally, I encountered that situation not too long ago... Needless to say, if it were not for my active use of peripheral vision, I would not be writing this blog now. Along a similar vein, while running a number of vocal workshops and seminars over the last close to four decades, I have learned that when conducting a large group of people, I had to mastermind a skill allowing me to be able to see all of my participants at once in order not to lose their attention while I was engaged with them on a subject. In the context of sports; For example, hockey players cannot play their ga

Vocal Box Repair: Is There Such a Thing? And is it even possible?

Apparently there is! And yes, it is possible and it is fixable… however, with great difficulty. For comparison, let’s look at classical ballet dancers: Everybody knows that ballerinas have to have a certain arch in their feet, especially females. It is detrimental to their careers if their feet are flat and not properly arched, because it would be difficult to do pirouettes; circling up to 32 revolutions ( fouettés)  with one leg while keeping the whole weight of the body on the other leg while the flat foot is virtually unable to hold the body weight. Similarly for singers, the upper palette (located in the vocal box) also has an arch and curve. The deeper that arch is, the more the "body of the voice" will be projected. The palette arch, however, is not everything, as the sound also needs to be supported simultaneously by the lower abdomen and upper diaphragm, or else the whole lift of the voice becomes obsolete. Singers can avoid cracks in their vo

Vocal cancer II: Is there a cure?

“…and can we stop the spread…?” Like any cancer, in my opinion, vocal cancer is also a serious disease. However, there are always stages. And if the real cancer is diagnosed and detected early, it usually falls in at stage 1, which means it is quite curable and if not completely, at the very least could prolong the patient’s life significantly. Unfortunately the vocal cancer, I would classify as stage 4, which in most cases is terminal and no cure could be offered unless something really alternative, out of this world and crazily outrageous comes along. Strangely enough, it actually has already come, like a lot of alternative treatments for the real cancer, which have been suggested by the alternative herbal and naturopathic medicines. The problem is that the people are so brainwashed and so believing in what they’ve “known” for years, ie. conventional medicine, which in a lot of cases is killing while supposedly “healing”. That said, no doubt, it’s very hard to change the herd menta

Vocally Speaking: Vocal Cancer; How Far Has it Already Metastacized?

Being teaching and producing vocals in Canada for over thirty years, it never ceases to amaze me how many people have gone for conventional vocal training , practicing, the least to say, nonsensical and leading nowhere exercises - and think that one day they are going to wake up with a wonderful voice and be able to sign a million dollar record deal . A lot of them were complaining that they were feeling quite strange making sounds, some of which reminding them of cats meowing and wolves howling. I'm sure if the latter would hear those people, they would be extremely jealous, as those singers were sounding "better" than the original mammals. A lot of these people after years and years are still trying to make some sense of it, while concurrently ruining their voices, as they were told that if their throats hurt to the point that they are losing any presence of their voices, that is good, because their muscles are working and they must be doing something right. Neverth

Vocally Speaking - American Idol's Requirements: Make This Song (Cover Tune No Doubts...) Your Own! Or Guess What?

Really... Guess what? Who ever told the contestants how to make the well known tune their own? And what, in any case, did the judges mean by that? I guess it's still somewhat a riddle to the participants and to the audience, for that matter. Watching American Idol for the last 9 seasons (not to mention Canadian Idol for at least 7 seasons) I couldn't help but notice that those young kids and even more mature adults, are stuggling to turn and twist the well known cover tune into something which is hardly recognizable, as the melody has often been changed, the vocal licks were inserted all over the place (most of the time not corresponding with the style) and that made it just unlistenable and simply left a bad taste in the listener's mouth. My husband and I are big fans of 50s and 60s music and therefore we're very familiar with the songs of that era. Occasionally, while both of us were watching pre-final stages performances (where these types of songs were required t

Music Industry Resurrection: Given the present situation ... is it even in the stars?

Being involved in the music industry for over 30 years in Canada, I have a lot of observations watching it from inside and out. When I first came in March of 1980, there were a lot of things happening, musically speaking and otherwise, as music is always a reflection of what's happening in that present time. There were great artists rising up, like Celine Dion, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and many more. Specializing in vocals , I started my career with the garage bands and pop star wannabes. Those years the immigration from European countries like Russia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Poland and others was at a very high rate. A lot of people were coming with children and teenagers and being brought up the European way, were willing to work hard to give their youngsters music education and helping them to succeed in the music industry . The children of those times were also very receptive, seeing that the music industry was happening and true to their cause new stars wer

Today's Entertainment Biz... Lady Gaga Craze!!!
Everything in the Same Pot: Fruits, Vegetables, Herring and Jam?

As it appears to be, the latest craze in the entertainment business is "everybody's favourite" Lady Gaga's act...? Is it really though? It no doubts is for the young generation. Sometimes even too young. On July 12th I was cordially invited by one of my artist's mom to attend the newest Lady Gaga tour "The Monster Ball". Let's first talk about the audience. Needless to say, there were a lot of under legal age kids, who I'm not sure should have necessarily had to hear it with their ears and see it with their eyes. The material of the show was quite explicit and definitely not for all ages. It was a lot of liberation presented by Lady Gaga on every level. You could not understand who was male and who was female in that show and who was seducing whom. She was reciting in between of her "escapades" how liberated she was, how free she was (I presume in her sexual preferences and what have you) and did invite the audience to feel free and

Vocally speaking: Why does it appear that people in a medical coma, at times, possess more "vital signs" than today's so-called performers?

Practicing vocal coaching /consulting/producing and whatever else connected to the music business for over 30 years in Toronto, I can testify that people have changed dramatically over last 3 generations. In my opinion, with technology progressing, the mental, physical and emotional state of human beings is dramatically regressing. Obviously there are quite a few factors related to why this is happening. One of them is that people are using technology instead of their brains, not along with the brains. It looks like their brain cells are dying one by one and they are unable to think straight, let alone make some viable decisions or, god forbid, try to put 2 plus 2 together without the computer or calculator. How scary is that? Taking into account this phenomenon, they are evidently not as physical as well. They spend the majority of their day staring at the computer screen and trying to figure out their whole life via internet. Sometime ago, I asked one of my young male students if

Weird vs. Different – Do you have to be a weirdo to make it?

How “different” or perhaps weird do you have to be to make it in the music business? And why do you have to be “different” or furthermore weird to attract the attention of the general public? I don’t know if I have the answer, but I do have a few ideas and thoughts. In my opinion, people in general are bored and they are constantly looking for something that is not as mundane as their regular lives. And there is nothing necessarily bad about that, as long as it is not being taken out of proportion. Yes, we all want to watch and hear something new and unique. And that’s fine. However, especially lately those new and unique ideas are being turned into very weird and ugly acts. The music videos are becoming more and more explicit and are reminding of XXX porn more so than any music. The content of the videos outside of the porn is reminding of some type of Halloween in the absolutely worst interpretation of that word. That is one side of it. Now let’s touch on a couple of other sides. I h

Today's Music Industry Ingredients:
Drops Outs, Runaways, Drug Addicts?

If you look at the history of the music industry for the last three decades, we can notice that a lot of famous people are not with us today. A lot of them "went away" much before their time. Some of them died from drug overdoses, some of them died of AIDs, others shot themselves or committed suicide one way or another. Why is that happening you might ask? These artists seemed to have had it all - fame, success, wealth and everything else under the sun. But could they handle it? Evidentally not. The question is why. Yes, a lot of talent has been discovered by fluke and accidentally. Some of the talent was searched for and by different means: numerous contests, Canadian and American Idol competitions, Britain's Got Talent and what have you. And if you watch these aforementioned shows, you would see that it's not exactly about vocal talent. At least it wasn't always the case in recent years. It seems to be that the judges were almost looking for somebody who was, so

Vocally Speaking - If you needed brain surgery, would you want an orthopaedic surgeon to perform it...?

Let's suppose that a patient needs brain surgery and then finds out that the actual surgery will be performed by a Doctor of Orthopaedics! "How could that be?," you might exclaim!!! It's true - it is highly unlikely that it will happen in real life. However, in the recording studio there is person who is usually called the "Producer" assigned to be a "jack of all trades" and, so to speak, "brain surgery is included". What do I mean by brain surgery is the actual narrow field of vocals? Primarily the producers are instrumentalists and majority of them are very good at their craft. But, very rarely, they are also the vocalists, least of all vocal mentors . Quite often, the clients come to our studio with their own recordings and reveal that the producer was excellent in everything else... until it came to vocals. Some of the producers, apparently, did not even care about the vocal performance and some of them were trying to give

Vocally Speaking – Performing “Naked” Less a $40 Million Stage…?

Over the years my clients and I have bought a lot of CD’s, especially in the past, and respectively attended a lot of live performances. Speaking of 40-50 years ago when artists literally recorded right off the floor, as technology was not as advanced as it is now, the live performances had a very close resemblance to what people heard on the records. As the technology was progressing and, at the same time, people’s talents for whichever reason were regressing, the gap between what was recorded using that modern technology (autotune, melodine and what have you) and the attendees at concerts were hearing was getting progressively bigger. In some cases you could hardly recognize some songs in the live interpretations of them. Some of the big artists were very lucky and had very big budgets which allowed them to dissect the song literally into syllables and then piece it together at the molecular level. However, when push came to shove and the album had to be performed live, some of them

Vocal Prosperity and Parental Management - When the Push Comes to Shove Part II – Then What…?

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Vocal Prosperity and Parental Management - When the Push Comes to Shove - Hats Off!?, I taught quite a few children as well as adults, especially in previous years. Once case specifically stuck in my mind. In 2000, I got a phone call from a parent who had an eight year old child who was actually already, according to the father, a child sensation in the singing and performing world. He even had a manager and was just about to break through to the music industry at large. After I agreed to the evaluation and assessment appointment (Introductory Session), I could see that the little boy looked like a young Michael Jackson and actually even sounded somewhat like him, with the exception that he was already experiencing some vocal problems . He was naturally talented but definitely “played it by ear”. I decided to take the case upon myself and our journey began. The father was not only a guardian but also played the role of the manager and later even a pr

Vocal Prosperity and Parental Management - When the Push Comes to Shove - Hats Off!?

Over the years, besides adults I have taught a lot of children. Some of them were learning how to sing for fun, but the majority of them were addressed by me to the junior instructors, who were also trained and guided by me. Those children who were coming with very determined parents who sounded very serious are usually enrolled in my course provided that the child was showing a great interest and had at least a remote talent to be able to succeed down the road in the music business . However, it was not always a straightforward endeavour. My memory still possesses a case where the whole family walked into my studio in Toronto and the child (approximately 12 years of age) and both the mother and father were wearing cowboy hats. I found it was a little unusual and unique. I saw people wearing these types of hats in Calgary, Texas and Nashville, but definitely not in Toronto. In my brief interview with them, the father revealed that his daughter had been taking lessons all over the place