KNOW WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE (PART 2)
We all have those friends… the ones we hang out with who usually run us down a path that we don’t want to go.
As a singer I have several “friends” that are just too much drama; I talked about them in Part 1.
Now, I’d like to introduce you to the “friends” that empower me as a singer, a creative, and as a person.
Cari Cole Celebrity Vocal Coach (yes, she’s a real person):
I was always strictly against taking vocal lessons. Why? I’m a freaking ROCK singer, dammit!
Seriously, I was really afraid of the lessons changing my singing voice.
I didn’t want to sound like Whitney or Celine.
I changed my mind when I started having weird vocal issues.
I consulted an ENT first, and she asked what kind music I sang. I told her I was a rock singer and when she stuck the little light up my nose to look down at my cords, she couldn’t believe my vocal cords were in such great shape. My issue however, was a silent reflux that was making my cords red and inflamed.
That was my cue to get some coaching (and reassess my diet).
After much research, I found Cari Cole and ever since, I’ve been doing her regimen of Singer’s Gift and Master Vocal exercises.
Both have helped me immensely.
V DUBYA (VWU) Aka Vocal Warm up.
Often people ask me to sing on the spot. I always say: Sorry I can’t, I don’t have my rock voice on. Meaning I haven’t had a chance to hang with my BFF VWU.
It’s essential to warm up before singing, and to get to that rock voice without a warmup, is like sprinting without warming up your legs…get my drift? Remember that episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe are running…if I don’t warm up that’s what I sound like. And yes, I warm up before I go to a concert like KISS where I’m in the audience singing every song …hell yeah…when they hear me I want to sound my best…kidding…or am I?
Singing is something that’s always come naturally for me and up until a few years ago I never took any vocal lessons other than the basics that I was taught in School Choir Class, where I was introduced to VWU. We’ve been BFFs ever since.
I know when we’re hanging out I’m ready for anything. I will confess, sometimes she’s boring and I just want to sing without her, but she gives me confidence as we warm up the body, face, neck and the vocal folds for flexibility, range and endurance.
She always has my back and I never regret bringing her along.
VCD (Vocal Cool Down) VWU’s little sister.
I admit, I only met her a few years ago, and sometimes I forget to include her. If I forget about her she gets pissy; for punishment, I have to work harder in my next warmup.
If I’m performing live or if I’m rehearsing, she’s always there. But if I’m just screwing around with my guitar, writing, I get sidetracked and forget about her. VCD helps to shrink the vocal folds, as they get inflamed during singing.
EAU ROOMTEMP: She’s simple, but particular. She doesn’t like ice or bubbles.
She comes with me everywhere. Especially before a show and onstage, although sometimes she gets in the way, falls down and spreads herself all over the place causing all kinds of havoc…so I must keep her contained at all times. Sometimes people mistake her for BOOZY.
More FRENCH FRIENDS WITH FANCY NAMES: the BOIRONS. My homeopathic remedy posse. OSCILLOCOCCINUM (nicknamed OXY-no relation to the evil one) helps keep my immunity up and colds and flus away.
Body guards: GELSEMIUM and ARG NIT both keep ANN XIETY (see Pt 1) in line when she shows up; they’re indispensable.
I hang with ROXALIA after those long studio or rehearsal days when my voice is feeling tired.
VOCAL EZE although not a BOIRON, is one of those natural chicks (Echinacea, Ginger & Honey) who helps ease a dry throat.
The CHINESE SYNDICATE are the big guns I turn to when OSCILLOCOCCINUM isn’t powerful enough to protect me.
Nin Jiom (lozenge), Chuan Bei Ban Xia Gao (Fritillaria & Pinellia Syrup) and Pang Da Hai, who is known for schmoozing with opera singers (I can never pronounce their names, but they don’t seem to mind). These guys help the throat feel better when dealing with colds or flu, and are all sans alcohol so they don’t dry out the vocal cords.
HUGH MIDIFIER. Vocal cords are very sensitive to humidity changes; I prefer recording in Toronto or LA as opposed to Calgary. That’s why I don’t like stage fog, and that sucks, cause it’s so cool and ROCK & ROLL, but it instantly zaps any moisture out of the vocal cords. Dry cords=loss of flexibility & range. That’s why EAU and I are besties.
ZEN & RELAXATION
We hang out pre- show. ZEN and I like to meditate before a performance to visualize the stage, my audience and my band with love & light for an awesome show. But RELAXATION is essential.
Yoga, exercise, and massage are all critical to keeping great vocal health.
That’s why the TIGHTS: Shoulders, Jaws, Neck and Tongue are not who you want to escort you onto a stage, believe me.
I’d rather have the machine gun bearing soldiers I had in Romania (true story).
I know, I know, these friends don’t sound very glamorous. But I’m incredibly grateful to have them. When I step on a stage or into the recording booth, I know that they have my back, so I can focus on giving my listeners the best possible RB experience I can give.