Jaime Vendera was the first person to shatter a glass on film (Mythbusters) and has been featured widely on TV ever since.
But he is, first and foremost, an awesome vocal educator and singer – his many books (like, Raise Your Voice) have been top choices by singers for years.
He’s worked with singers from bands like Dream Theater, Great White, Zappa Plays Zappa and Kevin Rudolf – and he returns as our vocal coach in residence for September!
Best advice you’ve heard on dealing with nerves?
Ha-ha, well it stems from “visualize the crowd in the nude”. From there I learned on my own that visualizing a great performance beforehand can allow that nervous energy to be transformed into something that can fuel your performance. I always visualize my entire performance- regardless of gig, glass-breaking television show, or vocal workshop- as super successful before I even walk on stage.
Quickest way to hurt your voice?
There are many “quick” ways to hurt the voice from talking louder than the music, not warming up properly, shouting at a ball game, etc., but it all boils down to lack of technique.
Best way to a healthy voice?
If you want a healthy voice, it is a lifestyle. You look at your voice as if you are building your vision of the “perfect body” which entails changes to your diet and lots of exercise. So, your voice will thrive will plenty of water and good natural sources of food, as well as routinely exercising the voice.
Best advice about tech you ever received?
“DON’T CUP YOUR MICROPHONE!” I had an engineer that used to scream this at me. Nothing wrong with eating the microphone, but certain mics will become very muffled if you cup the top with your hand.
What should a vocalist know about tech beyond their mic?
Oh, so much! I think every singer should become studious and learn about the “extras” that enhance their sound. They should learn about vocal effects and processors and understand monitoring so they can shape their own sound and make sure they can hear themselves sing every time.
Most important thing to know about singing in the studio?
Every take doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s more important to make sure you can hear yourself and sing with tons of emotion. If you miss a note here or there, it is not an issue. Focus on having fun and capturing the emotion!
One way a singer can find their unique voice?
Pull together all your singing influences, listen to your favorite song by each, write down the one vocal lick, tone, whatever it is about that singer that grabs you in each song, and then roll all those cool things up into one ball and use that for yourself to discover where you fall in the mix.
What about singers who are afraid they won’t stand apart from their favorite singers?
Remember, we all learn from other singers, and those singers learned from other singers. So, it’s not that I want singers to parrot each other. I just want you to listen and find what nuances of your favorite artists feels natural to you and then make it your own but putting your own twist on it.
What Causes Vocal Problems?
Singing outside your means: shouting, screaming, adding grit, or singing too high without proper training. This does not mean that these things are unattainable, but most singers “attack” extreme singing right out the gate without building vocal muscle to handle the range and variety of tones.
An unforgettable vocal performance you witnessed?
I remember seeing a band called Saigon Kick. I was never a big fan until that show. I knew they were known for their tight harmonies. They sounded as great live as on record.
What made it so?
This concert was back before harmony processors were used by live bands. Sure, many bands lip-synced or sang to pre-recorded tracks, but you can tell when a band is faking it or singing live. There was enough difference in the vocal energy to know the band WAS singing live. The harmonies were amazingly tight and impressive. Probably the best I’ve ever heard live harmonies. That performance has affected the way I write music. To this day.
Is there anything all vocal coaches agree upon?
Ha-ha, yes, we all agree that you need to breathe to sing, but many cannot even agree upon how to do that. Anyone who knows me will say that I support dozens of other vocal coaches of various styles.
So, you are into coaching tolerance?
I’m just not into the arguing I’ve seen from coaches over teaching methods. We are human instruments therefore different methods will work better for different individuals. Look at it like this and we can end the disagreement. There are MILLIONS of singers and only thousands of vocal coaches. So, why worry? There are plenty of students to go around:)
If an alien landed in front of you and asked you to define singing – what would you say?
I would say it is the fun way that we humans express the emotions of of soul through sustaining the words of our language in a rhythmic manner.
Did you have a career setback that turned out not to be a setback?
Yes. I got offered to audition for Trans Siberian Orchestra back in 2010.
Wow – what happened?
I turned it down because I really didn’t know a lot about them and I was actually prepping to do a small tour with my Vendera & Stith guitarist, Scott Stith.
So, how do you feel about it now?
When I saw their show, I was blown away. I regretted my reluctance. However, I am not very fond of touring, even when I do shows in China, Japan, etc. I have them fly me over, do the show, and get me back home ASAP. So, in retrospect, it would have been a great opportunity if they had chosen me, but I know I would not have liked being on the road for so many months.
Bad thing to say to your backing band/group?
I’m the REAL talent in this band!
Good thing to say to your backing band/group?
Thanks for making me sound so good;)
Quote about singing that inspires you?
Singing is the best medicine – I have no clue who said it, ha-ha.
Jaime Vendera is a Vocal Coach, world-renowned for his wineglass-shattering voice as seen on shows like MythBusters, Dr. Oz, and Super Human Showdown. He is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing and author of ‘Raise Your Voice’ 1 & 2, ‘The Ultimate Breathing Workout’ and the ‘Sing Out Loud’ series. He also runs the Vendera Vocal Academy. His new App, Tuned XD, is the ultimate multi-tool for musicians.