Vocal Coaching – Week 5 till 7

For those who are following my story, thank you so far. We’re getting close to the end and yes, I do notice some big differences in my voice.

Even in such a way that I’d like to thank Aaron Anastasi for developing his ‘Superior Singing Method‘. That’s the course I’ve been following the last few weeks on a daily base. I’m not done yet, but the improvements are there. Especially if you knew how I sang before and now, it’s a big difference. Mainly, I actually dare to sing now.

Even in such a way, I’ve been trying out my new iPhone 6S Plus to record video (using the front camera tough) while I was playing Ukulele and singing along my playing. No, I won’t win contests with it, but I’m actually a little proud that I dare to get this out in the public/online.

Without further due, my video (yes, you may laugh or don’t like it). I would appreciate it if you comment, but keep it nice. Again, it’s a big thing for me to post this so don’t post things like ‘YOU SUCK’, because I am aware of that..

Sorry for that. Let me know what you think and thanks for reading 🙂

Vocal Coaching – week #3 & #4

Sorry I haven’t posted last week. It’s been quite a week with everybody in this house being infected by some virus. I actually had to skip 2 singing lessons because I was too ill to do so. I’m fine now, so continued today.

Week #3 was all about Vocal Tone, adding some exercises to get more control of the nasality of my vocal sound and how to get the best tone out of it.

Week #4 was all about Pitch where I found a huge improvement already. There was this exercise where a piano was making a sound (going from A to D# to B to F#) and the exercise was to match this note by either flowing into it and/or hitting the note instantly. It was kinda hard the first time and I did cheat a bit by using a tuner app on my iPhone, but today (after 2 days of no singing) I managed to hit the notes just by listening to it. This is actually a big breakthrough for me, since I can easily do scales, but hitting random notes was really hard to do and that’s improved hugely now.

I’m looking forward to next week, where I’ll learn ‘Power & Resonance’. Hopefully my band mates will notice that as well.

Meanwhile, I have a new iPhone which I’m really happy with (an iPhone 6S plus), sold some old computers and I’m feeling much better after a few days being really sick.

Next week, another short blog about my vocal lessons. Fun fact, I’m recording some things of my progress. I may post this at some point.


My (music related) change – week #2

Last week I’ve started my weekly blog about a change I’m currently doing. I’m revealing what I’m doing today, I had to wait last week because I don’t want to raise the bar of expectation.

A little history of me is needed to understand. I’ve been playing musical instruments for as long as I remember. There are plenty of photos of me holding a guitar when I was around 4 or 5 years old. I remember dreaming about playing music on a stage some day, something what I do quite regular these days and enjoying every second of it.

I got my first drumkit when I was 6 I guess? From that moment I stopped trying other instruments, this was the one I liked the most.

While I was making noise on the drums, I enjoyed music a lot. Especially bands like Everly Brothers, Simon&Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Rubettes and Buddy Holly. Back then my parents had a car and for some reason I can only remember the Carpenters in that car. Also my mum singing along, something which I didn’t like.

Anyway, years passed on and apart from singing along with music, I’ve never done anything to get my singing improved. I disliked the sound of my voice and I figured, as a drummer I’ll probably never sing right?

Wrong. I started a 50s Rock ‘n Roll band and I found out I needed to do some backing vocals there. I had to take lessons for that because I knew I’m not used to keeping tone or how to manage my vocal chords. So I did, I took every week a lesson at a vocal coach. He was a nice guy, but was lacking quite some experience in teaching a starter like me. Eventually, I choose to not spend money on it anymore. The progress was too slow.

The Rock ‘n Roll band fell apart and after a few changes, I joined the band Pyrates!. One thing I like about Pyrates! is harmonising vocals. I used everything I learned from that roughly 50 vocal lessons, but still I am/was too unsure about the quality of my vocals plus I found it very hard to get the tones right. So, another vocal coach was searched.

Again, it didn’t work for me. Lack of funds combined with not actually learning something made me stop there as well.

Recently, I got annoyed that my vocals sound so different in my head than on the recording we’re making with Pyrates!. Despite doing everything I learned/remembered, I simply can’t get the right sound out of me. The lead singer of Pyrates!, David, who is an awesome musician who I really look up to for his vocal ability, noticed the volume is much lower when I sing higher notes and other songs I really sing strongly. I choose to do the test myself and record myself singing over random songs and that opened my eyes (or ears better to say). My god, I sound terrible as soon as I’m in the higher region. The lower vocals sound ‘ok’, but still not good enough for me.

Basically I put myself into a choice. Or I’ll fix my singing voice or I stop singing altogether. I decided to take one shot to get my singing improved and that’s what I started end of October.

For the first time ever in my life, I’m actually noticing a change in my singing. Only after 6 lessons of this course (one every day + 1 day ‘vocal rest’) I started to notice a small change. Enough to continue with this online course.

So far, I’ve learned how to warm up my vocal chords in an easy way and this week I’ve been learning about breathing technique. This course promises me to improve my singing. As he states himself ‘Anybody can be a good singer, it’s just a matter of the right technique’.

As soon as I have some decent results, I’ll let you know how things are working out. In the end I’ll post a full review of this course. So far, I’m really enthusiastic and I’ve learned more than my 2 (!) vocal coaches learned me.


My (music related) change – week #1


This will be a first post on something I’m working on. It has to do with music and my band(s), but I’d like to keep it a secret for now because I don’t want to let people down getting their hopes up. So yes, this could be considered as the first hint. It’s something other people would enjoy a lot.

Anyway, it’s a total of 8 weeks I’ll be changing a part of my life in a way that hopefully benefit myself and some people around me. A select number of people actually know what I’m doing and the better the results will be, the more I’ll be telling. If it won’t work out the way I think (and told), I’ll be telling you the results as well.

Anyway, I’ve finished the first week and actually started already on week #2. I do notice a tiny positive change which is enough to encourage me to continue the course with week #2. I expect to tell you more about it around week #4 or #5, depending how things will continue.

For now, I’d like to keep things a bit quiet for the sake of getting hopes up for people, but feel free to contact me to ask me more, maybe I’ll tell you what I’m doing ;-). It’s not something extreme or so, don’t worry.

But to not leave you alone now, I’m pretty proud of my band Pyrates! and what we’re doing. Video below will show you some footage of the shows we’ve done in 2015. Also, the audio track under the video is Pyrates! performing the song Irish Rover LIVE in Germany. So, this is actually how we sound :).

Enjoy and hopefully see you next week in the weekly blog.

The Van

Since we’re doing pretty good with the band we decided to buy us a van to get us around the world (well, at least most part of western Europe). After doing some research and checking out vans within our relatively small budget (hey, we’re musicians) we decided that a Volkswagen Transporter T4 (Known in USA as Eurovan) would be the wise decision. Plenty of parts to be found, several online resource how to maintain this machine and a big enough van within our budget.

The search began and after a while we found a pretty good looking (considering it was 17 years old) van with not much KM’s driven. 271xxx km’s to be exact. Since I’m the person who has the most gear (and I could use it for rehearsals as well), it’s decided I’m gonna buy the van. So, after a testdrive and nothing strange at this point, I decided to buy Moby Dick, a 2.4 liter Diesel Volkswagen Transporter extra long with double cabin.

Moby Dick

It needed some small work, for example. The back wasn’t suitable for transporting a whole band. As musicians, we like music (how unpredictable), so a pair of new speakers and a decent car stereo was bought.

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After the back was rebuild, everything actually fit in:

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And this is how we did a few shows. Moby Dick started every time and while being pretty slow, it took us to several places fully loaded with gear. Obviously, we had it checked before the big trip to UK, which was around 2000 kms in total to drive. But it held… it brought us to some very nice locations like this private show in a tiny tiny place in the middle of UK:

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On the 5th and last day of our UK tour, we ended up in Cambridge, UK where, while we waited for where to park, the engine started to smoke. That’s usually a bad sign. So, we parked up and shut the engine down, opened up the hood where we the cooling fluid was on places where it shouldn’t be. Also, the remaining 25% of the entire cooling fluid was getting out very fast. Literally, an ‘damn’-moment.

So, we unloaded the van (since we were THERE) and called up the AA. They found out the cooling fluid was leaking at a small piece of plastic and wasn’t repairable on the spot. We had to go to the garage. So, after cooling down the engine and putting in some water, we went to the local ‘German Tech’ car-dealer where we had to wait until the next day. At my return, I couldn’t resist to make a last picture of the location where the van spilled it’s cooling fluid:

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The next day, German Tech let me know that they could fix it with a 9 pound piece of plastic (and 3 hours of work >_< ). When I went there to pick the van up, they mentioned that the cooling fans didn’t work AND the fuelpump was leaking. That’s why Moby Dick overheated and destroyed the piece of plastic. A strange problem, since it was fixed 2 months before I bought it! Because it was cold enough, we could drive from Cambridge all the way to NL as long as we keep the temperature low. We drove home, no more problems (lucky enough) and the next day I called the garage where the repair was done. They couldn’t tell me why Moby Dick was there, but they did mention that back then, the meter indicated 568xxx km’s instead of 271xxx where I bought it at. So, 300000 km’s dialled back! Enough reason to bring back the van to the guy I got it from. Lucky he got me my money back!

Again, I was without van. So a new search began and with some extra money, I got me another one. Faster, real (registered) km’s and blue (and yet unnamed):

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Much faster than the old one (2.5 TDi instead of a non-turbo 2.4). On the day I bought it, we (Pyrates!) went to Germany with it and all without any issues at all. A few days later, we did a local show in Helmond and on the way back, I heard a strange rattling sound coming from the engine. Still working fine, but with a rattle.

Next day, I tried to find what was wrong with it but couldn’t find a good answer. It had to wait until monday when I had a rehearsal where a car-mechanic was.

Monday, I drove to the rehearsal and the first thing my mechanic-friend said, turn off the engine! The waterpump is broken and in this type of cars, the waterpump is connected to the timing belt, so .. if it breaks, the engine will break close to unrepairable. So, it had to go back to a garage. It will be fixed tomorrow or monday. Of course, I needed to make some picture. The garage told me I was incredible lucky. The timing belt was on the edge of breaking (and by that, destroying the entire engine).

At least it will be repaired and let’s hope it will last for a long long time!

The pictures:
Front opened up

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Engine open with the crankshaft (I think?) in the middle

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The next picture shows the left side of the engine where the waterpump is hidden below the big wheel, but note how much oil is on the belt (which should be clean!) and how it’s almost broken:
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Wish me luck with the van!

UPDATE 1 July 2013: The weird sound the van was making, wasn’t the water pump (well, a part of it probably was), but it was the crankshaft pulley. They had to replace this entirely because it was going to split (yes, literally split) pretty soon. After replacing this pulley, changing the oil seal (that was terribly damaged by the pulley), the timing belt and the water pump, the van is working again! We even drove it with Pyrates! again and soon we’ll be driving it more and more for our shows. So, still having a lot of luck when it comes to this van. The engine still was sooo close to being broken entirely that the Garage didn’t believe it was still running.