My name is Daniel Formica
Honestly I hate talking about myself… But, I feel like anyone who presents them self as a vocal coach has a responsibility to demonstrate that they are actually a proficient and experienced singer themselves.
Over the last 25 years, I still have not come off tour, playing three to four nights a week. My versatile voice has allowed me to sing rock, R&B, Jazz, 70’s, 80’s, and many other genres. During my steady involvement with corporate and entertainment companies, I have performed at many venues including the Hollywood Bowl, United Center Chicago, VH-1, MTV, Sea World, Disneyland, Roseland, the Playboy Mansion, the House of Blues, and Celebrity Weddings and also many corporate parties for Space X, Addidas, Nike, XGames, way too many to mention.
Singing engagements with high profile celebrities include Reo Speed Wagon, Luther Van Dross, Bette Midler, Tower of Power, Hugh Hefner, Dennis Rodman, Rupaul, and with many finalists on the American Idol. Many of Los Angeles’ themed 70’s and 80’s bands have also called on Daniel as lead vocalist.
In 2015 he was invited to teach at a Vocalizeu/Vocology in Practice summer retreat. Here is a little excerpt from that event…
What an experience I had teaching two masterclasses at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Brentwood, California for The Vocalizeu artist intensive week, April 10-19th, 2015.
I have to admit, I was extremely nervous as I do not like public speaking. Throw a wig on me and ask me to perform for thousands- that’s easy. But speaking about something as divided and controversial as singing technique, well, that’s another animal. During the months leading up to the presentation, I was trying to figure out how to present my philosophies about singing not only to a room full of artists, performers, singers, and musicians, but also to a round table of “who’s who” in the singing/science of singing community such as Mindy Pack, Dave Stroud, and Karin Titze Cox MA CCC/SLP/Vocologist (Daughter of Dr. Ingo R. Titze- if you don’t know him, Google him. He’s basically the father of science and practice of voice rehab. Nobody is more in the know of voice than this brilliant man) as well as many other professional teachers.
FROM THE BEGINING
It all began when I was a guitar player in an original band. We moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles and the songs we wrote had a lot of harmonies so we all had to sing. My singer was a natural, straight out of South Central, and had a high natural raspy beautiful voice; Smoky meets Terence Trent D’arby (Sanada Maitreya) meets Ray Gillian (Badlands.) I was hooked. I wanted to sing better and have a front-man voice not a backup singer’s.
Jump forward seven years and I’m living in my mom’s basement again, practicing with a tape of exercises that were the only ones I had. I got started singing along to Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Brian McKnight, Badlands, Rod Stewart, Steve Marriott (Humble PIe,) Maxwell, Prince, and too many others to count.I started a trio and was gigging three to four nights a week, blowing my voice out every other week.
Then I took a gig in a band called the BoogieKnights, singing everything from KC and The Sunshine Band to Donna Summer. They had tracks that had the keys and backing vocals on them already, so they were set keys, most of them original. There were no options to change or pick the key to sing in. I had a sub who had to fill in all the time because I kept blowing my voice out. I was losing money and didn’t like it. I got through four years of difficulty and then moved to Atlanta and did the same thing.
In Atlanta, I started a career saving trend with myself–that is wherever I would move, I would take lessons from the premier coach of the area. Funny, I forgot the teachers’ name in Atlanta and Chicago but I learned a lot from them and from everyone else I subsequently took from. I moved back to California again where I live now. I still take lessons when I have a problem.
With that being said, I wrote some notes and tried to follow a script. But in the end, I just had a blast helping a lot of singers. Everyone at the Masterclass was so understanding of my nerves. They put me at ease so I was able to explain and demonstrate the tools that I have been using onstage and in my home, scaring my neighbors to death, for the past 25 years. Not to mention my wife and daughter dealing with my ups and downs and keeping me moving forward as an artist.
I would like to thank everyone for making this a great experience. A special thanks goes to Mindy Pack for asking me to do this, Dave Stroud for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself, Fawna and Ian for dealing with my horrible internet skills, and lastly Karin Titze Cox for giving me confidence by letting me know that the things I teach and believe in are solid, making it a little bit easier for me to believe in my abilities.
Thank you everyone! I can’t wait to do more with the VIP Crew!
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
The magnitude of my involvement vocally comes not without its dues; i.e. voice issues. These challenges are, however what gives me that edge beyond any vocal instructor in the industry.
As a personality flaw, manifesting as a blessing, I research solutions to overcome common and uncommon vocal problems. Over the years I’ve been to a multitude of vocal instructors (see list below), poured through ancient and modern books on singing, and scoured the internet for answers. Which led me to Alex Karitois bio the only teacher I still continue to study with and endorse to this day. Like myself Alex is very humble and really wants to help and clear the slate of all the noise going on in vocal technique today. Like myself he is a huge fan of the basics and the foundation of the voice and not so big on throwing around a bunch of terms and tricks. Many of the concepts I knew to be true he helped me gain more confidence in. Another common ground we share is why are there so many Vocal instructors (some who call themselves master coaches) who never demonstrate or sing. They push their “methods” and charge hundreds of dollars for lessons but do not sing for you or even worse make up excuses. I always found this strange being that I am a teacher but I love to sing and work as a professional singer myself.
As a career singer, I am an example of a working entertainer who must perform night after night and wow the audience EVERY TIME. I have helped many of my gigging colleagues build solid vocal technique through vocal coaching, enabling them to sing in the real world and I can do the same to help you! Whether you sing rock, pop, r&b, opera, etc., this is the only technique you will ever need.. Take a private lesson through Skype. First 15 minutes for $5! (CLICK HERE)
I believe that years of actual singing experience coupled by diligence in research and application of select techniques has brought me to where I stand today.
At a professional level, my students agree that they achieve immediate and long lasting understanding and solutions for their vocal issues. At a personal level, I feel I am patient, fun, and passionate about helping students achieve their goals.
So here I am. And what did I learn? Well I’m gonna go short and to the point.
1.MY VOICE: If I wake up and have a clean pretty falsetto/headvoice (whatever you want to call it,) I will have a good vocal day. To this day I practice top down because that works for me. Many of my teachers didn’t like this, but it works for me.
2.WARM UP: Pretty simple and self explanatory yet do it right and it will help. For me I warm up throughout the day for 10-15 minutes at a time letting my voice relax and crack where it wants to. I suggest resting between each part of your warm up. Then before I go to my gig, I do a big warm up. Finally, I rest for about 10-15 minutes and end singing a song or two.
3.THERE ARE NO SECRETS!!: I can’t stress that enough. It’s so misleading to say there are “secrets” in singing. We all have the same muscle and tissue makeup in our voice apparatus unless you have a structural defect. If you do, that’s a trip to the Otolaryngologist. In other words the muscles will do their job if trained right. Secrets = Things that you just haven’t learned yet.
4.DON’T PUSH: Try not to have any little ticks when you sing. Any tension will cause more tension. (No taking a dump on my stage.)
5.REST: Very important. Remember you carry your vocal instrument everywhere. If a drummer or guitar player did that they would have a bad back and sore arms and legs. Sleep is the key to recovery. I had a throat specialist tell me once that 36 hours of complete vocal rest will take the swelling down as good as any pill with no side effects. Lots of H20.
6.TRY NEW THINGS: If your teacher is trying to drill something that doesn’t work for you, try something else. Don’t be afraid to ask. Instructors should know other exercises that get the same results. You may see ads stating that a teacher taught your favorite singer. But the truth is singers usually go to see a teacher after the first tour or so because they may have burned themselves out a little. Your star was already a singer before the singing lessons. More in a blog about this.
7.TAKE YOUR TIME: Enjoy the ride of learning your instrument. Too many times I felt I was rushing and not listening to what I was doing.
8.GET OUT AND SING: Sing, sing, sing, not only scales, but sing songs at a venue. Sing with some other singers/peers that you think are great. You will see that you sing better when you sing with them.
I hope that wasn’t too long thanks for reading.
My Vocal Instructors include Seth Riggs, Mark Baxter, Dave Stroud, Ron Anderson, Carole Tingle, Brad Chapman, John Henny, Michael Goodrich, Brett Manning associates, James Lugo, Nate Lamm, Joel Ewing, Dr. Morton Cooper, Gary Catona, Georgia Lewis, and Gloria Rushe. There are a few I may have forgotten.