Jono McNeil is a coach who practices what he preaches.
Not only has he performed as backing vocalist for some exciting celebrities: Josh Groban, Nelly, Lemar, Michael Buble, Jocelyn Brown….
Not only does he work as a coach and scout for “The Voice” (UK) and develops new talent across London…
He is also an effective educator who heads up the vocal department at the Academy of Contemporary Music.
We’ve given Jono just a sentence to answer each of our questions!
To be the male version of Mariah Carey (or a postman).
Worst singing advice:
A common piece of advice that many students hear, but that I find to be quite unhelpful, is to pretend you’re constipated as you go for a big note.
…what’s wrong with “constipated singing”?
This sensation engages all of the wrong muscles, usually helpful for singing, and causes unnecessary tension throughout the body.
A favourite recording mic:
Uncreatively, I just love the Neumann TLM 102 – my voice sounds alive and electric and it really makes me want to give my all in the studio.
A favourite live mic:
It’s been out for a while now but I find myself consistently coming back to the Shure Beta 87A as a live mic.
How do you avoid feedback with the Beta 87a?
It is a condenser mic, which can be risky in a live setting, but if it’s set up right and the monitors support the sound well, it gives such a crisp and lively sound.
A favorite nerves remedy
Along with a secret breathing exercise I love to use, dancing around like a fool gets me completely ready for the stage (it helps if there’s a good DJ mixing the tunes).
Long before I get to the gig, I enjoy my gym routine and finish off with a steam in the steam room -great for relieving stress, loosening my muscles, and the steam gives my voice some topical hydration.
What about your vocal warm ups?
My voice responds to (boring old) long-note scales very well.
Any other pre-performance advice?
I avoid coffee and alcohol and drink a lot of room temperature water. Once sound checks and set up is done, I give myself a moment to stand quietly on the stage and mentally prepare for the audience that will be filling the room.
Where most singers mess up with vocal health:
A lot of hardworking singers often find their efforts are sabotaged by poor speaking voices.
Another vocal health mess up:
When singers go to loud clubs or venues and try to yell over the music – their voices becoming fatigued before they even get to singing a song.
Best advice someone ever gave you about performing
Enjoy your voice when singing – too many singers are very psychologically pre-occupied by what they “feel” is difficult for them, or are simply too anxious to please others.
Top recording tip.
The main point is to experiment; don’t just take the first headphone mix your engineer gives you. If it’s not right for you, you won’t perform well.
Top tip for working with a venue:
Bringing in a lot of unexpected gear on the day of the performance is often something the venue will get quite upset about. Prior communication is always key.
Good thing to say to a venue manager:
They’ll love to hear that you love what they’ve done to develop their space – focus on the good things and you’ll probably play to their egos well!
Your life philosophy in 10 words
I’m completely stealing this but I’ll leave you to discover where from:
Don’t ask what the world can do for you, but find what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs, is people that have come alive.
(Well that’s slightly more than 10!)
If you’re signed up to VoiceCouncil’s Peer-Review, you’ll be receiving unique insight from Jono McNeil for the next 4 weeks – you can sign up now.
Jono McNeil has established an exciting position in the UK music scene as a contemporary/pop vocal coach, whilst also singing with an impressive array of artists such as Michael Buble, Nelly, Lemar, Josh Groban and Jocelyn Brown, to name a few. Heading up the vocal department at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), developing some of the country’s most exciting new talent, he has also worked, both coaching and scouting on two seasons of BBC’s hit programme, The Voice.