Archive for March, 2011

I’ve been watching American Idol quite precisely for at least the last decade and this time watching the auditions, I said, “Finally, the singing quality is becoming quite strong and definitely more listenable than ever before.”

Little did I know. After that last 12 “best” were chosen, the quality of singing all of a sudden subsided substantially. How so, you may ask? I don’t know for sure, but judging by previous experience of watching my own client on the “Rockstar Supernova” television show of 2006 and my other client on “Canadian Idol” of 2007, I could certainly say that somebody was so called “helping” them to “achieve their dream”by trying to teach them in the last minute (whether it was a vocal coach or producer) some new “vocal tricks”. Both times watching my own clients on the above designated shows, I nearly fell off the chair while listening to their “new and improved” version of their chosen songs.

Going back to the day, the Canadian Idol management of 2007 introduced themselves to me and said if I had any questions or very talented students, to send them their way, to feel free to do so.

Brian Melo wasn’t one of them, however, I did address three others to them who did not make it through Canadian Idol, but became quite well known performers down the road. One of them made it quite big and her name is Trish Campbell, who is now signed with Capitol, EMI Records.

Nevertheless, using the name I was given for the reference, I called and asked to explain how come all of the participants, including my own client, all of sudden started to sing off key and in a very strange manner. After me inquiring to what happened to the participants and my client in particular (as I’ve never heard him singing so badly), they explained to me that they just hired a vocal coach to help the participants to address all of their vocal needs before the grand all performance. I’m not sure what services were performed in that regard, but I was almost sure that my own client would be voted out of the show with the speed of a bullet. However, all the rest of them were even worse and were becoming worse and completely unlistenable by the minute. To the credit of my client, he quite quickly picked up the pieces, as he had a very good foundation which I instilled in him during our vocal course, and needless to say, won the competition.

Prior to that, in 2006 my other client well known today, Lukas Rossi, was picked on every level and commented on his possessed “unknown vocal technique”. Almost every episode there was a scroll “Lukas owns some kind of unknown vocal technique. Let’s find out what it is.” He, like Brian Melo, almost succumbed to Jason Newstead’s of Metallica comments and instructions; “Lukas, drop your jaw down. Show me your gift.” Needless to say, Jason Newstead never sang a note in his life, however was a very well known bass player (frankly, given that fact, I could not relate to the relevance of his comments). Meanwhile, the same vocal coach, who was next year hired for American Idol, suggested the same thing. Lukas resisted at the beginning, but then he was advised that if he didn’t comply with the rules, he would lose the place in the competition. So he too started dropping his jaw down and screaming from the bottom of his throat. Luckily, not for long, and thus he was still able to preserve his real gift – the musical talent married with the Vocal Science technique.

And now, whoever is working with the American Idol’s best 12, definitely had some input into their vocal performances. Granted, the performance aspect (dancing, prancing and what have you) was done down pat. Whoever is responsible for choreography and stage presence is doing an amazing job. Whoever is responsible for their vocal performances is having an opposite effect on the quality and presence of vocals. All of a sudden, more than half of the best 12 are singing off key, off tone and off tune. Some of them picked up a strange vibrato on their voices and sound quite operatic while attempting the pop tunes. It is extremely sad, as they’re supposed to be the 12 best in all of North America and I thought that they would be…? But somebody definitely had something to do with it, that they started sounding rather funny and definitely not up to standards.

In other words, we’re witnessing a glorified karaoke in the worst understanding of that word. Very sad indeed. Is there a solution? I guess it remains to be seen and heard…


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A long time ago Citytv launched “Speaker’s Corner”. Anybody could stop by and verbally express their opinion about anything. Some people were actually singing, while hoping to get noticed and make it big in the music business. And YES…BINGO! The band “Barenaked Ladies” were noticed, picked up by music industry professionals and then the band made a very significant mark, becoming icons in the music industry to date. Sounds like a fairy tale, huh? But that happened and it’s real. However, at that time it was quite sensational.

Today, we all own computers and we all can easily and quickly access YouTube. In a manner of speaking, it is a “Speaker’s Corner”, but in the convenience of our own home or at our desk at work. With that to be available, the well known manager, Scooter Braun was surfing the internet and YouTube in particular, when he discovered a young boy who is now the well known artist, Justin Bieber. The “Biebermania” took off and along this premise two young girls (Maria Lourdes Aragon of Winnepeg and Heather Russell of Toronto, Canada) were recently discovered. Maria was discovered by Lady Gaga, who was fascinated by the little girl performing her song “Born This Way” and Heather, outright got a record deal with none other than the former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell. This modern technology already helped a great deal to launch the now huge teenage artist, Justin Bieber, and those two girls are definitely along their way to stardom as well.

In my opinion, it’s absolutely amazing, as the music business for the last at least 20 years became nothing but a factory of artificially manufactured stars. Those so-called “stars” were mainly picked by their looks, ages, right connections, and the money put behind their careers. We all know that a lot of so-called “singing” could be fabricated in the high tech studios. And if the budget is adequate enough, the production will sound quite profound. Now we have the looks and good sounding studio recorded tracks and then what? Then, the majority of times we have an artist who cannot perform live or nevertheless resemble anything remotely close to what has been recorded. In their concerts, however, they have very knowledgeable sound engineers behind the stage, which are there on stand-by to pick up the sound which was originally recorded to substitute for the sound which is hardly coming out of the so-called manufactured “performer’s” mouth. Then no wonder well known sources such as the Toronto Sun, start publishing articles about those fabricated performers, in this instance Taylor Swift, calling them outright and outloud “tone deaf”:

“Thanks primarily to her stunningly tone-deaf Grammy performance, Swift ended up being the big story on Grammy night — but not in the way she had wished. Critical opinion of her three-song mini-set — which included a mercifully brief duet with Stevie Nicks on Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon — ranged from the somewhat diplomatic “painfully out of tune” to the slightly more pointed “off-key caterwauling.”-Darryl Sterdan

Justin Bieber, however, and the two new young female rising stars are truly and naturally talented. They were chosen for the right reasons and thus, hopefully down the road, they will not destroy our ears and turn us away from the concert arenas. However, being a vocal educator for over 3 decades, in my opinion the talent has to be supported with the proper knowledge, especially when it’s concerning the human voice.

Stay tuned for the Part 2 for a blog: “Vocally Yours: What’s Greater? Playing It By Ear Or Doing It By Design?”

Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science (TM) method and Talent Scout & Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.

If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863). Local and International Inquirers please call: 416-229-0976.


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Being a Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist for over 35 years now, I have seen a lot of cases where the full or partial loss of voice took place. There were different people, just the ordinary want-to-be singers or speakers and some were definitely active professionals. There were different causes and different diagnoses, but what was in common was the misuse and overuse of the vocal anatomy in general. Mainly, that was happening due to the wrongful application of one’s voice; speaking or singing. The conventional vocal coaching suggests to people who want to learn how to use their voices “correctly” to drop their jaws down, to bend their knees, and feel really grounded and use their vocal and other parts of their anatomy as much as possible. What do they accomplish by doing all of this? The limitation of the vocal range; used, abused and strained vocal cords; and the sound which is evidently crashing down and dying at the performer’s feet. Not very pretty, huh?!

Moreover, I have met some skinny people who looked like they were 5-7 months pregnant, by sticking their stomach out, supposedly for the right breathing, they were simultaneously making their abdominal muscles weaker than they normally should be and thus acquired disproportionately looking big stomachs which made them look, minimum to say, pregnant. My term of comparison is that they looked like “pregnant ballerinas” to say the least.

Meanwhile, not on a music note (no pun intended), the whole fitness world is reciting about stronger and better looking abdominal muscles and definitely nice and flat tummies, which are very much in fashion at all times. Where, then, do the vocal coaches get an idea that they have to work against human anatomy and against any logic, drowning the voices down deep in the anatomy instead of helping their performers to release the pressure of the sound off of the anatomy and make it fly above and on top of the body, just like spirit (which in a matter of speaking, the voice is) will always fly away from the physical body and not along with it. Moreover, the voice is a unique instrument which every individual possesses. Once that voice is trapped inside of their anatomy, the whole so-called “performance” becomes very anatomic and not spiritual at all, not to mention that all human beings have the same anatomy, especially if they’re the same gender, and the only difference then is the presence of gender specific organs. All the rest of the organs are absolutely the same for both genders. The voice flown off of the physical anatomy should be as unique as the finger prints of each and every individual. I know that any performers who I have produced over the years have had very unique tones and their voices could be recognized very easily, even if you don’t know the song they might be singing.

“How would you achieve that?”, you may ask. I have an answer for you, as I have found the mechanism which will allow your voice to work at its fullest capacity possible, yet with no pain or strain on your vocal anatomy. By utilizing this mechanism, you will be able to restructure your voice from the vocal box to the set of your facial muscles which will represent a natural resonator, or amplifier in this case, and then put those facial muscles to work in full conjunction and coordination with your abdominal muscles for the greater support of the sound and, thus, then minimize and practically eliminate the use of your throat, larynx and vocal cords.

However, if the voice was already damaged, to do just that might not be enough. Therefore, simultaneously with the proper instruction, I would administer natural herbs and remedies which will greatly aid to one’s voice. Needless to say, those remedies will be obsolete unless the voice is released from the vocal box and the singer operates through the different channels and in the new found way.

This is also applicable for singers like Justin Bieber who, evidently, are going through puberty now and whose voices are drastically changing to become lower and manlier. In this instance, I could with absolute certainty say that using my revolutionary approach to voice mechanics, the puberty would not matter and male singers like Justin would be able to continue to enjoy their performances and go through puberty rather smoothly and without dramatic changes. In my opinion, Justin needs to learn the above addressed application of his voice and since his anatomy seems to be somewhat strained, which is natural for any singer when they’re experiencing difficulties to push stronger, his vocal box has also to be carefully nurtured and thus simultaneously to be healed while he will be trying to reach the new heights.

Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producerand Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science (TM) method and Talent Scout & Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.

If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863). Local and International Inquirers please call: 416-229-0976.


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