Superb Vocal Training Testimonial

When I received this vocal training testimonial from Jeff Lavigne, it overwhelmed me. It embodies so many elements making up a successful coach-student relationship. Please enjoy it…

 – Jessica Marciel

Jeff Lavigne - Singing Student, Las Vegas Vocal Training

Jeff Lavigne

“I have struggled with my singing for ten years now (I am 28 and started when I was 18). It is my passion. Everywhere I go I sing my little heart out. For a long time my problem was that I just wasn’t that good, and people let me know it. I quickly got discouraged and stopped singing in front of other people.

Eventually, this led to a frustration so profound that I thought about quitting singing altogether. That is what led me to Jessica. I made a deal with myself that before I could quit, I had to make one last effort.

I was skeptical of voice lessons because I tried them before, and by the second lesson my teacher basically said that I would never be any good. But, after calling Jessica, I got a very encouraging and nurturing vibe, so I decided to give it one last shot.

At my very first session, Jessica informed me that I wasn’t a bad singer. I wasn’t destined to shower singing mediocrity. Rather, I just wasn’t singing correctly. All this time I thought I just had a bad ear for music, that I had a pitch problem and just couldn’t hit the right notes. But Jessica showed me how most of my problems weren’t caused by an inherent lack of ability. They were caused by not knowing the proper technique. In a few short months, based on Jessica’s teachings, I could hardly recognize my voice. I couldn’t believe how much better I sounded. More importantly, my confidence started to come back, due to Jessica’s encouragement and the fact that my singing was undoubtedly improving.

She also helped me develop some of my original music. We went line by line through the songs I wrote to make sure I was hitting the notes properly and with the right tone. I am by no means a pro now, but after seeing her detailed approach, I now know what makes someone a professional and I can continue to develop these skills forever.

Further, I want to emphasize how quickly I started to improve. Based on talking to other people and my previous experiences, I thought that, if I could improve at all, it would take me years to do so. However, I started to notice changes almost immediately. To be honest for the first month or so I thought I was getting worse because I had to learn a whole new way to sing. But by the second month (4 or so lessons in) I was already singing better than I ever had before. Within 6 months I was singing better than I ever thought was possible for me.

Finally, I really appreciate Jessica’s bedside manner. She really knows her stuff, but doesn’t make beginner/ intermediate students like me feel inferior.  Many of her exercises are silly, but she is willing to get silly with me so I don’t feel self-conscious. In fact, I really like the exercises because, in addition to helping develop valuable skills, they help get me out of my head.

Jessica didn’t ask me to write this testimonial. I am doing so out of gratitude for what she gave me. I can’t believe I was about to give up on one of my life’s greatest passions when the solution was so simple.”

– Jeff Lavigne

Long-Term Singing Success Requires Smart Short-Term Priorities

Never confuse talent with the applause of intoxicated people at a Karaoke bar It takes guidance, practice, determination, and dedication to really develop natural talent.

I have great singers who come every week, after long days and hard jobs. They know the more they learn, the better they will become. I have single mothers who have scraped for money to fund lessons for a child’s aspirations because they knew it was important.

And other students are now recording, and ready to be signed by a label. They still come every week or twice-weekly because they know they need to build stamina and refine their technique. If they make it to the next level, success at performances and concerts won’t just happen automatically. It will need continual coaching an ongoing honest evaluation

A Mother Is Not A Coach

west-side-story-coverOne mother insisted her daughter learn a difficult song from West Side Storyfor an audition. The girl could not even grasp the concept of the lyric or the degree of difficulty of the music.

I firmly recommended another song be chosen. The mother insisted; we parted ways.

A vocal coach needs to be included in the choice of an audition song. It is that ability, among others, you are paying for.

Singing Lessons Aren’t A Trip To Disneyland

If you have a large family, and the younger ones have to wait a year for their turn, in order for you to supply the gifted one with every tool possible, you must set the priorities to give the older child the proper training, or it will wither from neglect.

There is rarely measurable improvement, when a student takes lessons every other month or every two weeks. It takes study as if one  were learning an instrument. No piano or guitar teacher would take someone twice a month, because there would likely be no real progress.

time of day mattersTime of day matters

Bring a child to an 8pm lesson and they are certain to be tired,..exhausted. How can they absorb and retain the lesson content? Saturday? That’s usually play-day, and it’s difficult to focus on lessons. Well, if Saturday is play-day, parents may be sending mixed-signals to their aspiring child. If weekdays ARE the only time, then make sure the child naps and does not eat before a lesson. It’s important to be alert.

My Saturdays, growing up, were, jazz, tap, and ballet. My entire childhood was lessons. I could play on Sunday, ride my bike, go to the park.

Lesson Frequency and Persistent Practice Matter

If a student has any true professional aspirations, a good teacher, won’t be comfortable with being seen, twice a month (except in rare situations).  The really good coach is hard to find. I know, because I have students who have been to many before me, and moved on from frustration.

That type of teacher doesn’t offer the foundation skill and nurturing a student needs to progress. One can vocalize at home, but you cannot be your own coach or director. It requires a neutral observer and coach to move you along, point out poor phrasing and breathing mistakes. Read my post on “What you should expect from a vocal coach.”

No YouTube is better than Bad YouTube

I have coached some singers who take a couple of lessons, disappear, then post YouTube videos, and tout me as their coach.

I discourage anyone from posting YouTube videos, unless they are original, studio recorded songs.

I would like these people to take my name off the videos, but I can only ask. I can’t compel them.

Occasionally I get it wrong. I have taken on a few students twice a month and should not have. They did not get the progress my other students got.

I no longer accept hobbyist singers as students

If singing is a hobby, I will not take on that person as a student. If one is serious (as an adult or parent, for a child)  you will find a way… cut out a dinner out, whatever it takes, taking voice is a serious pursuit, and potentially life-changing experience.

Taking the stage on Karaoke night is fool’s gold. The applause of friends, family, and patrons is temporarily good for the ego. Don’t confuse that with reality.

A person with sincere aspirations and drive needs quality coaching and the truth about what it takes.

Aspiring students are always welcome. Reality checks occasionally given… This post would be a reality check 🙂

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Official Mascot: Ray Charles Jr.

Ray-Charles-Jr-mascotRay Charles, Jr. is the official mascot of Las Vegas Vocal Training. Andy and I rescued Ray about five years from a family in North Las Vegas.

Ray, a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepherder), has a warm and friendly personality, and responds well to petting and tummy rubs.

When Ray first became part of the household, he rarely barked. Now, his barking is as an extension of the doorbell. When he hears the doorbell, Ray alerts me of the arrival of my next student, by running to the front door and barking, cheerfully. Upon opening the door, Ray never jumps up… he just needs a few moments of acknowledgment and affection, and that’s it… barking stops, and he accompanies me and my student back to the studio.

Singing phenom, Nikki Yanofsky, started singing jazz classics at a very young age. On one of her live recordings, she introduced the Etta James standard, At Last (see Nikki’s performance), by saying (paraphrasing)…

“I’m only 13, a little young for the mature theme of this song. So when I sing it, I think about my dog, Hudson.”

Nikki Yanofsky

As a vocal coach, part of my job is to help students relax and focus. Ray is the soul of the studio, completing the cozy atmosphere of my home studio, enabling students to focus, more completely, and fully enjoy the learning experience.

Ray is an asset to my studio for students of all ages, and like Nikki Yanofsky and her dog, Hudson.

In the video, below, Ray provides inspiration and audience for my student, Ella (Cool, classic, jazz name, too).

Enjoy Ella as she serenades Ray Charles, Jr. 

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Nick Hissom Releases First Song

Jessica Marciel & Nick Hissom

Jessica Marciel & Nick Hissom

This Monday, July 1st is a very exciting day. Two years ago, I started working with Nick Hissom, a young student and model. He had a good  voice, and a lot of potential.  We did long, 3-5 hour sessions because he didn’t live in Las Vegas.

He traveled all over the planet, on modeling jobs, and holidays, and back and forth to his home in the UK and Pennsylvania for school. His European managers had found me online, and contacted me, with a confidentiality contract.  So I  worked with him  in secret for about 7 months when he was in town.

This is a singer who could do any genre he wanted.  He sang Sinatra for me! He also did pop and r&b.  The next step was to get him out there, Kenny Ortega was hired. Kenny added dancers, to  get the show moving. And there was Nick, out there singing and dancing all over the country. He even has shoes that light up around the soles when he dances. I bet Usher wishes he had those.

This new single that comes out Monday on iTunes, called,  ‘If I Die Young’ (not the country song of the same name).

Nick is the son of the beautiful Andrea Wynn, married to Steve Wynn. His father is the well-known Robert Hissom. Nick and his brother were raised in Europe and educated at a boarding school.

Nick is on e of the nicest people I have known. He was only 19 when he came to me. When he was in Las Vegas, we would meet for dinner, and if not that, he would still text me and stay in touch. I have so much respect for him, that he has done the homework, and followed his heart to make music.

If I Die Young - Nick HissomAfter our second lesson, we recorded his voice doing “My Way’  for his mum, and Steve. He got thumbs up, and we all had dinner to meet. Mr. Wynn is so into music, I am afraid, the two of us chatted about that one and this one so much, that we ignored everyone else.  We spoke so much, and just about forgot to eat.

So, please  check the song out for yourself on iTunes July 1st If I Die Young’ – Nick Hissom

Nick, I wish you a long  and successful career in this business, we call Show!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Aileen is a 9-year old wonder!

AileenAileen is a mature, and solid singer. At a pint-sized nine years old, she blows my mind every week. She has good pitch, taste, and emotion! I am always hesitant to take students this young, but I am sometimes surprised, and take them on with excitement.

She gets better every week, and her dad, as he sits in the den waiting room, can hear a little and always is so happy that he influences her choice in music, like Muse, and ZZ Ward

That music is hip and cool for someone who not quite in the target demographic for the recording industry. If they all had taste like this, we would have great music out there, instead of these auto-tuned videos and average singers lip syncing so they can dance around.

These videos are like an old Las Vegas lounge show! Thanks to her dad’s great taste in music, she will always sing great songs and sing them well.

UPDATE;   Aileen is 13, still with me,, also studying acting at Hollywood Access inc where I teach as well..      She is singing in public and so gorgeous!!!!  She has a bright future…

Way to go!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training


Crossing The Bridge

Ken has studied vocal training with me for four years. He was already a good singer, when he came to study with me.  His style is 60’s  The Doors, and Creed, etc. he does Jim Morrison so well, I thought he could be an impersonator. His natural voice is deep and rich like Jim’s. It made sense to go that way. If any agents out there need a Jim Morrison, call me! (702-809-5202)  Ken Is that good!

Ken, and his beautiful wife Michelle, have been wonderful and went to my Las Vegas Rock Hall Of Fame Concert. They went to the after party, and Ken blended in as if he was a Rock Star. When they go out to Open Mic nights, people go crazy when they hear him sing.

Now, after four years, Ken has crossed his bridge from chest voice, and is singing Steelheart’s Angel Eyes, and Journey!  Where did this high voice come from.  Well,, when you study as long as Ken has with me or a good coach, you move your range, you natural range gets wider and after all this singing,, Ken found his head voice!  I am so proud of him, and I know he will be working in music full-time soon.

It isn’t easy now. Not  like the old days, but it is possible. If anyone can do it, he can!!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Students of Las Vegas Vocal Training – Where Are They Now? – Part 3





LOU LOU WHITE: Ready to Break Out

At that time, she and her husband had been in America about two years. They had just moved to Las Vegas when Lou Lou  found me, online.

Students of Las Vegas Vocal Training

Marine Goujon

The moment this beautiful girl opened her mouth, I was amazed. She had so much soul! her CD was good vocally, but the horns were weak and She was better than the album. The songs were good, really good, but not commercial, enough? So, they said.  Tom flipped over her and they decided to write an album together. Every time they wrote a song, Tom and Marine knocked it out fast, I did a lot of back-up vocals . We used horns and strings too. Marine is a great writer and they clicked, quickly.

My relationship with Tom Marolda, and his input with my talented students is priceless. He not only writes with and sometimes for them,  them, but is most generous in giving credit in their  co-writing the songs. I have former students who only gave him ideas for a song, and he was so generous. In Marine’s case, she did write everything with him.  Some others, have not. Most of all, Marine is a writer; and was before they met.

Marine comes to me weekly and takes her study very seriously. When her first single breaks, she will be in shape to do a long concert because of her stamina. I have the highest respect for her dedication. When I describe Marine, I only think of blue-eyed soul singers, like Dusty Springfield, Joss Stone, Adele, and Jesse J (because of her power).

I try to mentor my students, and give them direction for what genre they would excel in, what they should do to start the process. The original material, the production, the exposure is all a start. Then you need a break, someone to take notice, or someone like Tom to place your song or songs in film, or TV shows.

Students of Las Vegas Vocal Training

Dayna Kovicic

Dayna Kovacic: A gift for writing lyrics

Dayna had been with me long before I started collaborating with Tom. She goes back to when I was sending students to Los Angeles to write with Brody Brown. She would drive to Hollywood just about every weekend and write with Brody, and call me, Sunday night, I’m almost in Vegas , can I come over and play my new song for you? It as always mind-blowing!

When nothing was happening for her with the songs, I took her to Tom, they clicked very well and she wrote some Twilight-type vampire-oriented songs. Tom got some interest from the show Vampire Diaries, and they kept writing. Dayna continues studying with me and I am quite proud of her. She is a stunning girl with a natural talent for lyrics. She will keep writing until something hits and I know it will one day.

Thank you for reading my blogs. I am so proud of my students and my next blog will be about some students who are doing tributes to The Doors, Paramore, and some singers working The Strip as piano/singers in the hotels.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training


Where Are They Now? Students of Las Vegas Vocal Training – Part 2

Nick Hissom comes to Las Vegas Vocal Training

nick-hissom-tileA European man contacted me to coach a high-profile young model from the United Kingdom.  I was asked to sign a confidentiality contract. I received the PDF, signed it and, a few weeks later, the yet-unidentified student  arrived at my door. A slender young man with a hoodie exited a stretch limo, and instructed the driver to return in three hours.

As a magazine junkie, an avid reader, I recognized this young man was  Steve Wynn‘s stepson, Nick Hissom, a cover model on many magazines. Nick is both sweet and real. He explained he had an opportunity to go on tour, and would soon be in the recording studio.

We started with the basics. I taught him how to relax, and breathe. Nick has a natural ability to sing. After only three lessons he wanted to start writing. We started to write together, not my strongest suit, but I added what I could and we recorded what he wrote.

After a few months, as he would come and go, traveling the world as a socialite and model, we texted and tweeted. He said his mum and step dad wanted to meet me. I met the Wynns for a lovely Japanese dinner.  When everyone was eating Mr. Wynn and I talked music the entire time.

Since then, I have dined with Nick at the Wynn Hotel with he and his friends. We keep in touch, although now he is on tour. Interscope Records signed him and Kenny Ortega directed his tour. The show has lots of dancers and the soles of his shoes light up a round perimeter surrounding  him. He too, is living his dream. If you get a chance to see him perform,  Nick Hissom is his name, and he sometimes goes by Nick Robertson.

Katie Pilkey: From Las Vegas to Nashville

Katie Pilkey

Katie Pilkey

Katie is a photographer who started vocal lessons, and I heard something right away. I called my Nashville connection, Eric Bikales, Neil Sedaka‘s Musical Director. He sent us many songs to work with. Katie choose five songs and we packed up and headed for Music City, USA!

We had, thanks to Eric  the best musicians, George Maranili, the guitarist for Bonnie Raitt, and a members of  Dolly Parton‘s band. It was magical!  Katie and I went out to clubs and piano bars, at night. This was during the time the Casey Anthony trial was going on, so I vividly remember being in my hotel room, when the verdict came in. I will always remember that about this trip.

When we returned to Las Vegas, Katie auditioned for a country band, and got hired, stopped lessons!! And stopped doing anything with these fabulous records she made!! They sit, and it is a shame no one has heard them… yet?? Who knows?

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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