The Importance of Training Your Instrument

California Life with Heather Dawson.jpg

Interview by California Life with Heather Dawson

CL: You compare the process of becoming a great singer to the process of becoming a world class athlete. Can you explain what you mean?

VM: You cannot go out and be an athlete or a pro in anything you do unless you train. You get your body built, you get your muscles going, and you have to be in shape. You have to be fit. If these singers are not fit and not in shape they are looking for a whole bunch of heartache. When they go out to do a record, or they’ve got material to work on, or they’re doing tours and they’re not feeling good, they’re not loving their job and can’t enjoy the moment. Think of it this way: if you’re in a constant state of worry about your instrument you’re not really living your dream because you’re not really having fun. When you learn the technique, you’ve got the tools you need to succeed.

CL: What is the one quality that your students need in order to be successful?

VM: Patience is everything. Knowing that you have to train and put the pedal to the metal is how you will achieve your goals.

CL: Have you had any students who were skeptical about your teaching method? Did they make any progress once they started training with you?

VM: Yes. Reeve Carney in particular is a great story. He is currently in Broadway’s Spiderman in the title role. He also just recently booked the role of Jeff Buckley in Jeff Buckley’s Biopic due out in 2013. He came to me a few years back and said “I don’t want to train – I’m worried you’re gonna change my voice. I’m worried that Interscope won’t like what they’re gonna hear.” I reassured him by explaining it to him this way: “Reeve you’re a man. I’m gonna make you bionic; that’s the only difference. You’re the shiny toolbox and right now you’ve got no tools inside of it. You need all the tools in place to build the house. So the more you know, the more equipped you are to go out. If you want to sing dirty one night that’s fine with me, but if you’re not feeling great, you have the tools and the training to pull from so you can go night after night without fatigue.” The fact that he is doing eight shows a week and filming without losing his voice is a direct result of his training and hard work.

CL: What is your experience with singers who have vocal problems?

VM: I work a lot with singers who have polyps and nodules as well as pre and post surgery singers who need rehabilitation. Of course, the goal is to keep them out of surgery and keep them healthy. But I get a lot of singers who have issues and need to be in a rehabilitative stage.

CL: Do you work with Ear, Nose and Throat doctors as well?

VM: Yes. I believe that you have to work very closely with these doctors to find out what’s going on with the individual singer. I need to know if I can train them a little harder this week or if they need to be on vocal rest. I work with ENTs in order to discern when we need to pull back and when we can move forward and push them a little harder. If your coach or teacher is not really closely involved with their student’s doctor, there’s a lot of misinformation and a lot of misfires. And you’re responsible for that person’s instrument. That’s a big deal.