Monday, December 24, 2012

Gotta Be Me

I am so thankful to be fully out of the closet at this point of my life. Not only personally, but also professionally.

As a vocal coach, I want to be a positive image of an openly gay man to those I teach who may really need that affirming influence. Maybe even fellow teachers could be encouraged. And as a singer/songwriter, I want to share music that is very honest- no using female pronouns when that is not my experience. It’s important for my songs to positively represent love between two men in an unflinching, natural way. I want there to be music released that I would have loved to hear when I was younger and afraid of my feelings. Tunes that could have validated me as a young gay man and musician.

In these ways, my being out is not only for me but also helps to make things a bit better for those GLBT folks who come after me, empowering them to live more authentically. ♥

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fueling The Voice

In my teaching studio, I can often be heard reminding students that we singers are like elite olympic athletes. The same driven, focused attention to training and proper technique that is required of the leading jocks is also a must for the modern vocalist. Likewise, attention to how we fuel our bodies is of major importance. Daily maintenance goes hand in hand with technical skill for success in vocal longevity and health.

Here is some insight into how I now maintain my own voice on a daily basis. I am increasingly sharing this knowledge with my students as well.

First, let’s talk hydration. It can never be overstated how important it is to keep our voice’s moisture level up high. The delicate vocal folds need to stay lubricated to work most efficiently. I can be found drinking a lot of room temperature water throughout the day. Health experts have proposed that we should be ingesting half of our body weight in ounces of water. So for me, that means taking in more than 100 ounces per day. I must admit, that is not always easy- it really takes work to stay on target. But it is crucial! Needed hydration also comes by way of long, hot showers before I teach or perform. The moisture is inhaled and can get to the vocal folds more quickly.

Though I was never a fan of black tea, I have come to love some herbal and green teas in recent years. I find peppermint tea very soothing for the throat (let’s remember that nothing we drink actually touch the cords or we would start to choke) and love it both after breakfast and at night before bed. Lemon ginger tea is also a favorite. Teas that contain licorice root or slippery elm are fantastic. These herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and irritation in the throat and vocal folds. Throat Coat made by Traditional Medicinals has them both and tastes fantastic!! I most often use honey as a sweetener. I have recently read that is also has some antibiotic and antiseptic properties.

The food we eat has a definite effect upon our voices. Some singers can tolerate dairy products with no ill effects but most of us have to deal with excess mucous if we partake. Spicy foods are the kiss of death for many while some can eat them and perform without a problem. It can take time to find what you can tolerate and what won’t work well for your voice. Even though my lactose intolerance has improved as I’ve gotten older, I know that I will have to deal with excess phlegm, which can hinder vocal cord vibration. Therefore, I limit dairy to lowfat or nonfat yogurt....and the occasional pizza. But on a performance day, I won’t have any dairy whatsoever.

As a result of doing the Beachbody Challenge for the past three months, my eating habits have been changing quite a bit. For protein, I am having a lot of chicken and turkey and very little pork. I am eating leaner cuts of beef such as sirloin for burgers and choosing flank or skirt steak, which don’t have much fat marbling. Foods higher in fat are harder to digest and can lead to heavy phlegm production. On performance days, I stick to the poultry. I don’t do a lot of spicy food but stay clear of them completely on performance days.

I am eating much more fruit nowadays. They are great for all the vitamins and some contain a lot of fiber. But there are some fruit which I love because they very voice friendly. Watermelon is very high in water content so it is great for getting extra moisture into our system. Strawberries are also heavy on my menu these days. Apples, too, are great for us singers. These fruits can be great pre-show foods because they are not hard to digest and can keep energy levels up.

Singers have a very high incidence of acid reflux disorder, which can be very problematic. So I make sure to have a couple of Tums after a meal if I am going to be teaching or singing sometime afterwards. I also make sure to sleep with my head elevated to prevent acid from coming up from the stomach and burning the delicate vocal fold mucosa.

Of course, daily vocal exercises are part of my daily routine. I warm up for no less than 15 minutes before starting to teach and generally 20 minutes before a show. On long teaching days or after a performance, I am sure to do a vocal cooldown before going to bed. It is the equivalent of a dancer or runner’s post-activity stretches. It is very important to get the folds back to neutral, speech-like state before sleeping so the voice will have a healthy start the next morning.

Singers, actors, public speakers, and all heavy voice users must make the daily care of their instrument seriously enough to adopt habits that will lead to health, consistency, and longevity. It takes discipline but the rewards will be great.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Hey everybody!!

I decided to talk about the singers, players, and writers who have had such a huge impact on me as musical artist. I find it hard to say who I think I sound like but I can share who helped to shape my sound and style. Check out the new video. ENJOY!!!

Friday, September 7, 2012


Recently, I've been asked several times about how I write songs. I decided to share a little insight into my creative process with this video. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's Do This!!!!

Hey all!!!

Well, it really is time to get this damn album done, huh?

I have been getting refocused the past week or so on bringing this fruition. I was debating on whether to do a full album (9-11 songs) or an EP (5-6 tracks). For me, I think a full album would be the better option. If it's taken this long to finally do it, I want to really make it an event. I know that we're at a point in the industry where albums are becoming less attractive to buyers. I think that's because too few artists actually produce a record that has very much to say artistically. We end up with nothing but a collection of singles with a lot of filler. I refuse to do that to myself or those who choose to support my work. I still believe in the solidly-conceived full length record that has some heart and integrity.

So, I'm now deciding on what songs I feel would fit together best for this debut project. I've got plenty of slow jams. Now to fine-tune the uptempo songs. I am more than a balladeer, you know? I likes to get fonky, too!!! :-) I also am toying with adding a solo piano number and writing more inspirational stuff.

As I'm on vacation this week and have only a couple of lessons to teach, I plan to start recording some music this week. With a new keyboard and recording software in tow, Project: RECORD of BUST is about to commence.

September is now here and I still want to be back in Long Beach this fall. There is still much to get in order but I'm keeping the faith that things are going to be in place. Please join me in praying for favor and clarity.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meant To Be

At long last, I finally have some music available for purchase. I have released the song "Meant to Be" as my very first single. This live version was recorded back in January in Galena, IL where I was on vacation. It was recorded as I performed in front of fireplace- nice, huh? This song is about finding the guy I will spend the rest of my life with (I'm still working on that, but I digress). This will set the stage for more new music on the way in the second half of 2012.

I hope you enjoy it and, by all means... BUY IT!!! :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Developing Resonance

As I have mentioned before, the human voice is an acoustic instrument like a grand piano or cello. The initial sound is created by the vocal folds being set into vibration by the air coming from the lungs. This sound is quite small and would be hard to hear by listeners. Just as the piano's primary tone is amplified as the sound waves are magnified and enriched inside its wooden body and soundboard, the voice's sound is enhanced inside the cavities of the mouth, throat, and head. This natural amplification is known as resonance and is a most important element of tone production. It gives the voice carrying power and richness. It also gives us our unique vocal 'fingerprint', making each person's voice distinct and identifiable.

The development of each singer's natural resonance is a primary goal in vocal training. Unfortunately, it can become a convoluted undertaking. Sometimes an overemphasis on extending range- which is another extremely important goal- can cause teachers and clients to gloss over fine tuning vowels to make them more efficiently sung. Also the concept of 'placing the sound' often causes confusion and can bring about unwanted tension and constriction. Far too many vocalists run their voices into the ground by attempting to create big sounds by brute force, singing with way too much breath pressure. This habit can lead to serious damage to the tissues of the vocal folds. Singers need to be aware that proper resonance will give them the needed projection with far less wear and tear on the instrument.

Knowledge of how the voice resonates in the different registers of the voice is helpful at this point for all ye singer types. When singing (or speaking) in chest voice, the tones resonate largely in the mouth while feeling secondary or sympathetic resonance in the upper chest. Take your hand and place it on your chest then say a robust 'ha'. You will feel vibration against your hand in that area. Head voice finds its resonance primarily behind the soft palate and moves up and back as one sings higher. Place your hand on the top of your head and make a hooty 'oo' sound to sense the vibration. As we ascend from chest voice into the mix or middle voice, the resonance will move from the front of the mouth along the hard palate until head voice is reached. Having a physical awareness of the path of resonance is crucial to singing with a securely connected voice.

Here are some exercises to help you develop a more resonant voice:

1) Humming- This is something we all do but don't realize how beneficial it is as an exercise. You easily feel a lot of vibration as the sound waves bounce around and get amplified. Make sure that the lips are comfortably closed, not pressed together, and have the feeling of an 'oh' vowel in the mouth. Gently slide up and down your range. Try to get through your register shifts or bridges without a flip. Then move to humming on scale patterns. You can use a 5 tone scale, octave arpeggio, or the octave and a half pattern.

2) Humming with tongue stretch- Same as above but stick your tongue gently outward as you execute the hum. You get to warm up your resonance while also relieving tongue tension.

3) The 'ng' sound- One of my favorites!!! Make the 'ng' sound as in the word 'sung'. The back of the tongue raises toward the roof of the mouth while the tip stays behind the lower front teeth. It will be very buzzy like a hum. Again, do some gentle slides then proceed to scale patterns. An added benefit is the this sound is great for establishing good vocal cord closure.

4) The 'oo' vowel- This is a very warm, resonant vowel sound which also helps with stabilizing the larynx. As with the previous items, do gentle glissandi, sliding back and forth between chest, middle, and head voice. Then move to scales and arpeggios. 'Oo' is also great as cooldown after a lot of taxing singing.

5)Hum or 'ng' to a vowel- After getting an easy ringing feeling on the hum or 'ng', open to various vowel sounds. Start with 'oo' and 'ee' and then to more open vowels like 'oh' and 'ah'.

Make these a part of your practice regimen to heighten your awareness and coordination. Go team, GO!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

For Lita

This blog post has been in the works for a few weeks now. Or maybe it's better to say that I've been wanting to write this one but held back. I guess I was anxious about it because it's about a very special person. Someone who left us tragically and senselessly. I wanted to do something to honor her but was afraid that words would fail me and wouldn't do justice to her and her amazing family. But since today is Mother's Day, I believe the time is right. So here goes.............

I met Estrelita Meyer on November 1, 2008. It was my second trip to Long Beach, CA to visit my buddy Eric Leocadio. His nephews were having a birthday party so he invited me to come along. It was there at the family gathering that I met a lot of his family, including his mom Lita. It was great to meet these people who I would grow to love but I remember wondering if she liked me because she didn't really say much.

In July 2009, I moved from my hometown of Gary, IN to Long Beach. Eric was going to be one of my roommates. He flew out here and helped me finish packing then we set out on a roadtrip from IN to the new house in SoCal. My family is pretty close knit and I was used to spending all the holiday with them having large BBQs or dinners. So I was missing them fiercely. I was blessed, then, to have Eric invite me to his family's gatherings. I really needed that. After helping Lita move from the older family home into her newer property, I got to spend time with her. I learned that I really liked her and she liked me too. She and Eric's siblings made me feel at home and like part of the family. I loved watching the dynamic between her and grandchildren. So much love!!! I spent Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, and Labor Days with them. The more time I was around her, the more I grew to love her. A special memory I have is of a dinner at her daughter Lani's house. I was sitting on the couch and she sat next to me, laying her head on my shoulder. I cherish that image.

One of Lita's major passions was singing. She was the karaoke queen!!! At every gathering, she would crank up the karaoke machine and get to crooning along with Lani. And she would make me get up and sing every time. I would protest but she would insist. I learned to make sure to warm up my voice before any gathering, by the way. But it was always big fun!!

Lita also loved plants. The garden at her old home was huge!!! She was completely devoted to her flowers. It was a beautiful sight. I saw how that love for gardening has rubbed off on Eric as well.

After retiring, Lita decided to return to the Philippines. Once there, she started to farm talapia and also wanted to start some other business ventures. She was set to visit the family back in California just last month. But right after Eric returned from seeing her in the Philippines, tragedy struck. On March 1, 2012, her life was senselessly taken from her. Some selfish person brutally killed her. It was a huge blow to her family and all who loved her. Eric and his brother Mike went back there to recover her body and bring her back home to Riverside, CA. She was buried at Riverside National Cemetery on March 16. I flew out there so I could pay my respects and support the family. The service was very moving and inspiring. Eric and Mike gave wonderful eulogies that spoke of her love and generosity. That resonated with me because I experienced it first hand from her and her children. It's been hard seeing my best friend go through such a tremendous loss. But I am encouraged to see the love she instilled in Eric, Mike, Lani, and Missy continuing to shine and honor her legacy.

Since music was our shared language, I wanted to share a song that I feel fits her perfectly. A few weeks ago, I really listened to the words of Beyonce's "I Was Here" and fell in love with the piece. Shortly afterwards, I knew that this was the proper song to use as a tribute to a life that blessed and enriched the lives of so many. Lita, this one's for you!!!

ESTRELITA DeLEON MEYER (February 11, 1944- March 1, 2012) RIP

Thursday, January 26, 2012


HAPPY 2012, PEEPS!!!

I had a great winter vacation from Christmas through the first week of January. It was a much needed break and I was glad to have my bestie in town for that. The resort in Galena was really nice. Even though we were vacationing, we still got some work done. I shot 3 new solo performance clips that are now up on YouTube. Thanks to Eric for recording!!

A couple of days ago, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness while posting my daily music links. I reflected on the wonderful support I have received once I started performing again and getting my music outside of my 4 walls. I have had such wonderful feedback from fellow artists and performers. The respect for my craft from other musicians means a lot.

This morning, I was hit with another round of gratefulness for God sharing the gift of music with me in the first place. To have dreamed of making music as a teen but not knowing if I even had the talent, I now can fully grasp what I've been given. Being able to express myself through singing and playing is one of the most awesome blessings one could get!!! Now that I have embraced my songwriter self, I am even more thankful that I get to share MY thought, hurts, joys, desires through in MY songs. How awesome is that????

Then, of course, I am so grateful that I get to share my love for the voice and singing with my students. It is an amazing joy to teach others to sing well and unleash their own voice and artistry. I can pass on the great teaching that I received from Brad Nitschke, Randy Buescher, and Angela Pressutti-Korbitz as well as all that I've gleaned from influential teachers like Seth Riggs, Brett Manning, Mark Baxter, Lisa Popeil, Dave Stroud, John Henny, and others. I love this work!!!

This year, I plan to honor the musical and teaching talents I've been given by pushing myself to excellence and being authentic as an openly gay artist and voice teacher. Gotta represent!! NEW LEVELS IN 2012!!

Here are 2 of the new clips that I shot during the vacation. I hope you enjoy!!!