How many of us making a living as a professional singer-songwriter do vocal exercises every day? Be honest. I’m betting less than half. Maybe I’m wrong.
Here’s my excuse: Time. I get up in the morning with “warm-ups” on my list of things-to-do but then I blink and the day is over. I can barely get to yoga. How am I going to find time for in an actual coach?
No doubt professional training would improve my tone, pitch, endurance and…my recurring laryngitis! The trouble is, I just can’t get to everything on that list. I’d ask my Asst. to help but there are some things she simply can’t do for me.
Gifted singers make it seem effortless. And perhaps it is for them. Everybody has some kind of bionic gene. Some of us were born with a fancy voice. Perfect pitch. Melisma for days. For others it takes practice. But admit it: a lot has to do with the luck of the draw. Some of us have to work a little harder for the same result. Still, no matter what, I’ll never have Ariana Grande’s triple-octave range. (I’ll never have that pony tail either.) (Is that even real btw?)
And speaking of Yoga…My Ohms at the end of the class are shorter than anyone else’s which makes me feel inferior, self-conscious and frustrated. I have to face it — I have little lungs. I want my Ohms to linger — to have a symbiosis with the group. Hmm…come to think of it, daily vocal warm-ups could strengthen my lungs and lengthen my Ohms!
I’ve been determined to improve my respiratory life. Here is a short list of initiatives I’ve taken:
1- I’ve graduated from my full-on facial steamer to a My Pure Mist steam inhaler. It fits right over my nose and mouth and it’s portable. I can take it everywhere — a plane, the supermarket, my car! (I’m serious), and I don’t care who stares at me at a red light.
2- I upgraded my humidifier to one with a 2 gallon tank — there is so much moisture in my bedroom I can’t believe I don’t wake up in the morning with frizzy hair.
4- No Noisy Restaurants
Oh and I found an APP called Singer’s Friend (there’s an App for everything, isn’t there?) She’s my new bestie — introduces harmonics, keeps time, adjusts speed, raises and lowers the key. I’m doing scales as I move about the house, carting dirty dishes to the kitchen, making my bed, putting in a load of wash. I’m the queen of double-tasking. And apparently as long the two tasks don’t require the attention of the same quadrant of your brian you’re good…otherwise the quality of both tasks will suffer. I know, I know… if my posture isn’t optimum or I’m not taking deep enough breaths or opening my pie hole wide enough, there’s no able-bodied to point it out. But DIY-ing is a start.
A girl can’t mess around. I’m going on road trip to Phoenix soon, a city not known for humidity — the ingredient most essential to vocal health. And then in March I’m headed to London to continue recording my album. The thought of operating at half-volume is unacceptable. One can’t disappoint a producer who’s put “you in their diary.” I have to bring my best.
And so, yesterday, I got real…
I visited the office of the famous Dr. Shawn (voice-doctor-to-the-stars) Nasseri who informed me that I had the beginnings of a vocal node. (I’d love to post the picture of it but if you’ve ever seen your vocal cords you’d know how ‘gynecological’ they appear. So I’ll spare you.) (But if you must see, scroll down.) He said my prognosis was excellent but I have to Shut-Up for a full 3 full days. This won’t be easy. My husband is delighted! He also gave me a list of local voice coaches and said that time (no pun intended) was up. If I’m serious about singing (and I am) I have to go all in — take care of my instrument and find a real-live-human-professional coach. It’s Non-negotiable. Sigh.