Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sick Singer Remedies

First and very important... I am not a doctor. From time to time on this blog, I will share with you my and other's experiences with health remedies, but it is always best to check with your doctor before trying any of these tips.

For sinus issues (pardon the pun!):

Singers with chronic sinus and allergy problems can not sound their best. The vocal resonation zones are sick! Worse yet, the thickened mucous membranes offer the perfect medium for bacteria, viruses, and even fungus to take hold and multiply. While it's best to deal with the mucous membranes as soon as they begin to thicken, but so many products are ineffective and/or have too many undesirable side effects- like drying out the vocal cords.

"Sinol" is a new allergy and sinus product from the health food industry. One of my sisters, who has truly serious sinus problems, says that so far it is working miracles for her.

For irritated throats (actually good for any performance)

"FireWater" - that's what my other sister calls the concoction I recommend of lemon juice, honey and ceyenne pepper in a container of water (mix it to taste). Sip it frequently to help thin, ease and heal the mucous membranes of the throat, or to prepare your throat for live or studio singing, or public speaking.

For acid reflux;

There seems to be an epidemic of this right now. There are many reasons for acid reflux. It irritates not only the esophagus but also the vocals cords, sometimes causing serious vocal problems. In my case, it was due to not having enough acid or enzymes to digest my food. I went to a naturapath named Dr. Eddi Boyd, who tested me and recommended a product called "Pepsin HCL".

In my blog links, you will find a link to "My Family Doctor" - a great new medical magazine where I find practical advice from medical professionals on staying well.

Besides medical docs, I also go to trustworthy alternative medical pracitioners regularly. I believe in the integration of both mainstream and alternative medicine. I eat a healthy, digestable diet and take suppliments to keep my immune system rocking. I try to avoid antibiotics unless I really truly need them. When you have to perform, you want to be able to depend on a healthy instrument- having to cancel a show is never fun.

Do your own research and you'll be amazed at the real solutions out there to your health mystery. Your voice needs your spirit AND your body well; don't give up until you find the help you need. Please share your remedy experiences by clicking the comments link at the end of this post. I believe more in word of mouth experience than marketing ads.

And also remember, a remedy that may work for you may not for another. Use wisdom, common sense and err on the side of caution. And comment... What works for you?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Getting real with new artist development

Note from Judy:
There are scams and crooks in the music business. (Duh). You don’t have to be around it very long to know this. You need to check out ANYONE you work with before you trust them with your talent - or hand over a one of your red cents.

However, it is also true that there are people of the utmost integrity that work within our industry. If you are wise and fortunate enough to get these people on board your team, you may want to read these thoughts from David Pell. This is man who finds and develops new talent. He’s an honest professional- a good guy, and really cares about those he chooses to work with. As you’ll see, he’s dealt with some squirrelly folks, too. He tries to keep it real. Here is his guest post, and as always, we invite your comments!

Get real. You owe it to yourself and the rest of us.

When young people who come to me and say "I want to be on records / CD,s and be a recording artist / star". I'll ask, Why? Usual answers include money, I love music, etc...I'll listen to the would-be artist, and if I feel there is enough talent, desire and family support, I’ll go to the next level with this person and family.

Next, I’ll dish out some tough love. I'll tell them that they have to work harder than they've worked up to this point because all successful people, regardless if they are a recording artist, banker, ditch digger, etc,.. have had to work hard and smart to become successful. It didn't fall in their laps. In other words, you've done a good job at being ordinary, and you've come to me and the people I'll introduce to you to focus on the "extra" so you'll become extraordinary. This means hard work and dedication.I may tell them they need to change some of their thinking. I’ll explain that successful people have a different outlook and place value on items other than what the person may currently think matters.

  • I see you bought Judy's CD package. Are you using it everyday?
  • Have you written a thank you note to someone who has helped you?
  • Who's your target audience?
  • What style of music do you want to do?
  • What musicians (kinds of instruments, etc) would you want on your CD? What do you want your image to be?
  • What kind of role model do you want to be to your fans?
  • What do you most long to do- Do you want to follow the music industry (work at a record / CD shop or be a fan ) or be a part of the music industry? ( artist, songwriter, stage or studio musician, producer, arranger, etc..)

I'll ask the person to draw up a list of long- and short- range goal(s) for themselves. For instance,

  • What kind of training do you need to become excellent at what you want to do?
  • What can and are you willing to commit to make it real?
  • What are your expectations... what outcome of success would you consider good enough to commit yourself to these goals?
  • What do you expect me to do to help them meet those goals?

Like George Harrison wrote in the song "Any Road":

"If you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there "

But before the person puts pencil to paper or keystroke to Word document, I tell them they have to talk to someone that has known them longer than I've known them about their list of goals to make sure it is correct. Who is that? Mother, Father, Grandparents, Pastor or some other trusted individual. Then I put my finger square on the middle of the want-to-be's forehead and say "You- You know if your musical aspirations are true to the heart or just a passing fancy." Get real with me, now.
After receiving the list of goals from you, I make a decision to, or not to, commit. Once I've made my commitment to your dream, from then on I consider you to be an artist- and I treat you as such. This means at times I'm not very nice when you don’t work smart or hard enough, don't follow directions or advice in areas that need to be addressed. etc.. I'm also your biggest supporter to make sure you are prepared for the day(s) that will make your dream come true. Everything is done with your success in mind. However, I will not blow smoke up your whoop-a-daisy. You already have family, friends and pets doing that.

Here's the really hard part. If you get into this and find that you are not willing to go the distance because it’s not worth it to you to commit this much of yourself, don't be afraid to tell your mentor, family, or team that this is not what you really want to do. Now, make sure that you really want to quit or you'll be living the David Wilcox lyric from "Eye Of The Hurricane"

"That when you lay your dream to rest You can get what's second best But it's hard to get enough"

If quitting is what you truly want to do, take the heat and stand your ground: "No, I don't want to do this." That's what responsible, ethical and successful professionals do. Tell the truth to all involved and be sure to say "Thank You" to each person who was helping you make your musical dream come true. You owe this to everybody.

Don't be surprised if some people of the team get angry. Remember, they made a commitment to / invest in you and your dream and now you want to abort ship. We who have committed to our musical dreams want to help young talented artist and provide opportunities that weren’t provided to others. So, it's hard to watch talent go down a path that leads to nowhere, knowing that talent will never be used to it's fullest potential. Trust me it's really hard on us.
If you quit for some bogus reason, then most likely the majority of your team will be highly upset. If you went to the trouble to surround yourself with legitimate people who know your real chances of success, listen to them before making your final decision.

Any who, when you conduct yourself in a professional manner on your way out, you've can leave on good terms. If you want to return to the pursuit of your musical goal then you may still have people who will help, although you'll have to work even harder to convince them that you won’t bail again.It's not easy getting in or out. It takes commitment and professionalism no matter how you slice it. Respect everyone you deal with by being honest, accountable and considerate of their time and energy.

Get real with yourself- and do it now, not later!
-David Pell-

Monday, January 8, 2007

Posture for Singers- Studio

Many times a singer has trouble getting studio vocals and can't figure out why. It happens a lot with vocalists who do a lot of live performance work and are used to singing while holding a microphone (wired or wireless). But of course, it also happens with people who are new to the studio.

Try changing your posture!
  • First of all, stand with your feet in farther towards the mic than you're used to. Ask the engineer to make this possible, which may entail a longer boom stand position so you can move under it. You may need to move the music stand farther back, too. (THOUGH I HOPE YOU'RE NOT READING THE LYRIC WHILE PERFORMING!!)It's so important not to move your head forward (closing the ribs and the throat), and if you move it forward while in this position, you'll hit the mic with your mouth!
  • Stand tall, flexible, and confident! Don't stand there like a bump on a log. Unless your voice needs to communicate that you are a bump on a log :)
  • Talk with your hands!!! Use your hands just like you would with your friendliest live crowd (or your favorite unguarded vocal performance in the shower or to a pet audience) Your hands are connected to your arms...which are connected to your shoulders... spine... ribcage... DIAPHRAGM. Your expressive hands & arms can keep your chest from caving in, which gives your diaphragm too much slack and also limits your inhale. You need to keep the bottom of your ribs expanded but not frozen, and "talking with your hands" can help.
  • Use a dummy mic! I've had amazing success having vocalists use to live performance hold a dead mic or similarly weighted object in their hands while singing. It psychologically causes the body to balance itself differently. Without the mic, these singers feel front-heavy, like a fish out of water. Sometimes all they need to do is to use the previous tip and "talk with their hands". However, sometimes that's not enough. If you'd like to try this, grab the dummy mic and hold it close to your mouth like you do on stage, but keep your mouth closer to the live mic which is recording you.
  • Air out your armpits! Don't clench your ribcage with your upper arms. This is a position you assume when you're scared. If you're scared, don't show it with body language.
  • Let the groove get into your legs! If you allow a dance-like sway in your feet, legs and hips, you will affect your spine in such a way as to free up your ribcage, and also to free up your mind. It will tell your automatic nervous system that you are confident, into the music, and confident. Act as if, and ye shall be!
  • Keep your head level! Don't lift or dip your chin. Just flexibly balance your head on your neck... don't let your neck or shoulders get tight for any reason.
  • Keep your eyes communicating. This affects your posture, your open throat, and your emotional impact.
  • MOVE YOUR MOUTH! Communicate, communicate, communicate. What the heck are you saying? And remember, you're not singing to the control room- you're singing to the object of the song, for the sake of those who will listen to the final product and hopefully, be moved!

While you are doing your studio vocals, it is not the time to be worrying about technique... use your posture to set you up, literally, in the right position and then just get uninhibited with body language and go for it!