Quickfire Questions #24: Vocal Rehabilitation Coach Dane Chalfin

By on Thursday, 3rd November 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Behind every great singer is talent and ambition. But these days, with long touring schedules, extended travel away from home and exhaustion nearly guaranteed, the singer’s secret weapon – which you may have previously only associated with classically trained vocalists – is the vocal coach. Vocal coaches not only stretch singers’ ranges but also teach singers how to protect their voices from straining and injury. (Think about poor Adele and her haemorrhage vocal cord requiring surgery; this is exactly the kind of thing singers can’t afford to have happen (can you imagine if you were a singer and lost your voice permanently?). And these things *do* happen when singers aren’t trained properly.

Going on from this, I was interested to learn just how singers can protect their voices. So I contacted a vocal coach that I think you TGTF readers will be very interested to hear about. Dane Chalfin is a vocal rehabilitation coach, Director of the British Voice Association and Principal Lecturer at Leeds College of Music. But what makes him quite interesting is that in addition to his work with West End musical performers from major productions like ‘We Will Rock You’ and “Mamma Mia!’, he’s also worked closely with bands like Hurts, Everything Everything and Delphic. We’ve heard from the bands for our Quickfire Questions but this time we’re going to the man behind the bands for his answers. And without further adieu…

1. What song is your earliest memory?
Fleetwood Mac ‘Little Lies’. My mother played ‘Rumours’ constantly when I was a child. That and ‘Cuts Both Ways’ by Gloria Estefan, but I couldn’t lead with that answer out of pure pride.

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ by the Bangles. I used to do the walk and all. They did a spoof of it on Family Guy a while ago and it brought back tons of memories. I had forgotten all about it until Carter Pewterschmidt was singing along to it replacing the lyrics with stuff about his back problems.

3. What song makes you laugh?
‘Angry Johnny’ by Poe. I love all the different ways she comes up with to torture the guy and how nonchalantly she sings, “I wanna kill you”.

4. What song makes you cry?
‘Pictures of You’ by the Cure. Not terribly original I guess, but it coincides with losing the first real love of my life and those moments as a tragic West Coast, middle class teenager in Las Vegas sitting on the floor of my apartment (that I lived in without parents at 16!) and thinking of how bad I had it. I was such a tosser, but the song still reminds me of teenage heartache.

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love (it’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree from the Romeo and Juliet film. It was the soundtrack to a very romantic weekend on the beach in Florida I had with a girl I used to date with disastrous consequences. Every time we dated one of us ended up in some horrible accident or hospitalised or something (not because of one another, but by coincidence). We met up a few years later for a whirlwind romance and this song really captured the feeling of the trip.

6. What song makes you think of being upset/angry? Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Anything from Nine Inch Nails’s ‘Pretty Hate Machine’. That album got me through high school. Enough said.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Hey Jupiter’ by Tori Amos. I think it has some of the most picture-painting lyrics ever written.

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Robert Smith of the Cure. No one pulls on my heart strings or makes me want to dance about more than this guy.

9. If you hadn’t become a musician, what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Shoe designer. I would have been the next Christian Louboutin. I have a thing for putting women up on very high pedestals. Literally.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
Easy. Depeche Mode – ‘Songs of Faith and Devotion’. This is one of the most confessional albums of all time. The lyrics are emotionally naked, the music is haunting and the vocals are raw and exposing. I can’t think of a track on it I don’t love.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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