Do you like this story?
Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy
“If you like the way I sing I’ll show you how I do it” ~ Ken Tamplin
Ken Tamplin has been in the music business for longer than he cares to admit. Starting as a guitar player, Ken only started taking singing seriously at the age of nineteen and shares, “I have quite a well known cousin (Sammy Hagar) so perhaps it runs in the family. But, when I started, the only reason I wanted to sing was to get me through to the next guitar solo”.
With 3 Dove awards, 14 nominations, an Academy award nomination for a film score and many different credits under his belt (including more than 30 albums and producing over 100) Ken has spent the majority of his composing time during the last 10 years on music for film and television. However, in the process he has also developed a real love for teaching.
“I’ve been teaching voice on and off for over 20 years now including band members and other people I’ve toured with and made it a life passion to study the voice so it hasn’t just been a lesson here and a lesson there. I’ve studied with Ron Anderson, Justin Thomas, (the late) Maestro Kyle and many other people across Italy, Germany and the rest of the world. I’ve also been studying Bel Canto (Italian, “beautiful singing”) for almost 25 years now in addition to many other modern techniques such as mask, rib cage expansion, pillars and so forth.”
Many different artists have been influential to Ken; “I love all different kinds of music and I’m a big fan of virtuosity and excellence. Some of my favourite singes are Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding or rock singers like David Coverdale, Lou Graham and Paul Rodgers who’s my all time favourite. To date I’ve spent over half a million dollars on my voice, not to mention the amount of recording, touring and performing time I’ve invested. I really feel that our world has fallen into a lot of mediocrity and very little virtuosity over the last 15 years or so. However, it’s really heartening to see more virtuosic singers like Mariah Carey and Adele gaining such popularity these days. Hopefully these people are beacons of light to get us back to our roots and inspire a new generation of great performing, singing and song-writing.”
Ken shared his thoughts with us on what he believed makes a good vocal coach – “It’s not a one-size-fits-all in any way and every student is different. It’s extremely important to be able to read the person your teaching and understand what their needs are. However, as much as that, you must have quality, correct and sometimes very hard to come by information. I’ve found in my own pursuit (taking from over 40 different teachers) that very few people actually have the ‘real deal’ and right information. My slogan has always been ‘If you like the way I sing I’ll show you how I do it’ and another one I use is ‘The proof is in the singing’.“
“Learn who you are as a singer and know what you want out of your voice!”
“It seems like being a vocal coach is one of the very few professions where you can tell people how to do it (sing) even though you’ve never actually proven your own theories with your own voice. I find it hard to believe that there are people out there who charge a massive amount of money even though they can’t really sing or prove how they can sing, yet they’re going to show you how to do it.
Personally, I put my money where my mouth is and physically demonstrate the different approaches to styles across virtually every genre of music. For me, a great vocal coach is someone who has command of their own voice, their own instrument with an ability to translate this to others in a way which inspires them and their needs are understood. The idea isn’t to super-impose the will of the vocal coach on the student but more to turn up the volume on the student’s talent to have them not only be all they can be, but even more than they thought they could be.
We asked Ken what he thought were the most important things aspiring singers should be aware of, in terms of singing and the music business – “Learn who you are as a singer and know what you want out of your voice. Most people tend to model their voices after their favorite singers and artist that have influenced them however; many of those artists are not singing correctly either. So the key is to take the influence and inspiration and translate that into something that is sustainable and replicatable over time. This is a major component to good technique. Technique is king and I’m not ashamed to say that this year I will turn 48 in December and my singing has never been better.
“The proof is in the singing…”
In the genre that I like to sing in most (heavy throaty rock) there’s very few of us left and a lot of people have lost their voices due to not understanding how to ‘technically’ keep their voice in shape.”
“In regards to the music business, Sammy Davis Jr once said that it’s 50% music and 50% business but I think these days it’s more 90% business and 10% music. It’s a combination now of not just sitting in your bedroom and getting great, but also looking for opportunities to partner with other people to realise your dream.”
Ken feels that singing lessons and good vocal health are extremely important for anyone looking to have a career as a vocalist “If you’re looking to sustain your voice night after night you can’t do this with street-singing. Almost inevitably you’ll develop problems such as calluses or nodes and your voice will wear out. But, if you maintain good vocal health it’ll keep you singing every night and you’ll find you’re getting stronger instead of weaker as a result if you’re doing it correctly. It’s also really important to take care of yourself physically too as a person. Be healthy, be smart and if you’re looking to sustain a long term career then treat it as a business because that’s what it is!”
We also asked Ken how important he felt it was for singers to have control over their own sound “When people go to record their records (especially if they’re recording on a budget) it literally is laughable that they’ll spend HOURS on the snare sound and HOURS on the cymbal sound and HOURS on the guitar sound and then they finally run out of money and in the last three days it’s like – quickly, get the vocals done! Don’t you think it’s odd that there’s so little consideration for the vocal sound and that it really should have been a priority for the budget all along? The same is also true in a live situation where each band member has the strings, amps, pedals, sticks, drum heads and guitars that they’re all so picky about for their sound, even down to the speakers in the guitar cabinets and the patches the keyboard player has spent hours creating for that specific moment in that song. If that’s the case for the instrumentalists then why in the world would the singer not want to take command and control of the identity of their own sound?”
“If you leave it up to the soundman the chances are that 9 times out of 10 they’re not going to get it right. Vocalists should really take control of their own musical identity. We now live in an age, (thanks to companies like TC-Helicon) where that is now possible. So there is NO excuse! .
My experience is that the TC-Helicon products I’ve used are really there to add another dimension and complement your voice; to take something that’s good or great and make it awesome. Man if I had TC-Helicon products during all those years of doing 60 city tours, there would be a whole lot of band members I wouldn’t have put up with. I would have taken the VoiceLive Touch, posted a picture of their face across it and had it be the tour joke . AND I would have had better, more consistent performances too!!! Processing now for me is definitely more about enhancement, showcasing, more professionalism and personal signature as well as taking control of your own sound instead of somebody else doing it for you. It’s about being able to reproduce things that are done in the studio in the live environment and not a band aid for a poor technique and performance.”
“Think about the process, who your audience is and how you can access them…”
“I see a lot of people still looking for the proverbial record deal. Maybe this is the greatest barrier due to the fact that people have relied on believing that they could turn off their brain and hand themselves off to somebody else to run their career. We’re living in an age when basically the idea of getting a record deal is a joke, it’s over. Labels aren’t developing any new talent anymore. Think about the process, who your audience is and how you can access them. Don’t just expect that you can hand this off to a manager and you can just show up with a microphone. It’s amazing what you can do for yourself these days on the internet (and I don’t mean just posting videos on YouTube). There are so many places that you can garner support and visibility which we’ve never had before. You need to think about the total picture and come up with a plan of how you want to get to where you want to go.”
Ken has just launched a brand new step by step programme called “How to Sing Better than Anyone Else”. “I can’t tell you how many students I have who thought they were baritones or alto’s and there is specifically one who thought she was an alto but is actually a coloratura (very high soprano) . Basically, way back in high school or college the vocal teachers didn’t know what to do with her voice and as a result she resigned herself to remaining an alto. But now, as a result of my new programme, we’re having some fantastic breakthroughs with her voice. I’m really enjoying being able to inspire people and help them achieve more than they thought they could. This is what the new programme is all about. This is also true for companies like TC-Helicon. They are inspiring singers to be more than maybe they thought or realised they could be.”
Contact Ken via his official website at www.kentamplinvocalacademy.com