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. Nevertheless, some of them ended up needing laser surgery and, luckily, some of them I could help non-surgically.
If we could imagine for a second that those exercises actually meant anything positive for someone’s voice, why did nobody ever explain how to apply them to the actual given song? The answer is very simple – these strange sounds and exercises are not applicable. I’m sure some readers have been through “Myam’s”, “Neigh, neigh, neighs”, “Goo, goo, gooks”, “Zay, Yay, Yay, Yays…” and “Prrrrrrrrr” (lip trills).
For years I have been doing a lot of seminars and vocal interactive workshops – not only locally, but all around the world – my opening line has always been, “I did not come here to prove anybody wrong or to prove myself right, I came here to show you something different. And now you can accept it or reject it”. I often find skeptical people who have been taught exactly what I have described above and they tried to contradict what I have to say. On that note, I usually offer them a $1000 reward if they can show me how they can apply their “Goo, goo, ga ga’s” to a real song. Nobody has been able to do it so far. And I am talking worldwide and not just locally in Toronto. So the vocal cancer has evidently spread, ie. metastasized, and, as far as I am concerned, is gradually killing people’s dreams and health, as conventional vocal coaching is very dangerous for people’s anatomy (and not only vocal), physiology as well as their mental state.
With respect to anatomy, not only vocal boxes are getting hurt, but also the lower abdominal muscles, lower back and posture as a whole. Some skinny young girls were coming with their stomachs sticking out and I had to inquire as to if they were perhaps five months pregnant. One answered, “No, I’m not even sexually active”. Then “what” I exclaimed? The answer was that the girl from age 7 to her current age of 18 was pushing her stomach out following the instructions of the conventional vocal coaching and naturally wore out her abdominal wall.
So now on the skinny body there was a big stomach. I asked her if she felt a pain in her lower back while predominantly knowing the answer, which ultimately was yes. As by the suggestion of her former vocal coach, she was to push everything down to the floor and look like a question mark and then of course, she sounded and looked like a “pregnant ballerina” would. A lot of people were walking at me with their pelvis bones sticking forward – meaning their upper body was inclined backwards – and when I told them to lean forward towards me (as the sound is supposed to be lifted up and above the body), they were sticking their stomach and pelvis out even more.
Needless to say, for over 30 years of practice in Canada, I have seen it all in the full ugliness and almost near fatality, at least vocally speaking. The question is, “Is there a cure and can we stop the spread?”