A day after I opened for the Michael Winslow show, my friends and supporters on Facebook have been buzzing about seeing this:
It is HMSA's Island Scene Magazine's Winter 2013 issue featuring the "Finding the Flow" article write up by Fernando Pacheco (on page 34). Island Scene Magazine is Hawaii's premier health and wellness magazine. It is the largest distributed magazine in Hawaii, delivered quarterly to the households of HMSA's 700,000 members.
Bring your copy to a show and I will sign it!
Finding the Flow:
A beatboxer's victory over asthma.
By Fernando Pacheco
Imagine standing on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of fans. cameras of every type are focused on you as bright stage lights blind you. now imagine that you are also wheezing and coughing and short of breath. Such is the case with today's entertainers living with asthma, including Honolulu's Jason Tom.
Tom is a nationally known beatboxer and fashion designer who has asthma. His musical profession presents unique difficulties for someone with airflow issues. Like many vocalists, his only instrument is his mouth. A beatboxer is solely responsible for vocally producing all of the musical sounds (beat, melody, etc.) in a song, so they typically perform solo. They do not have the luxury of taking mid-song breaks to catch their breath. This literally puts Tom's life on the line at every performance.
Tom agreed to speak to Island Scene about his history with asthma and how it affects his life as an entertainer.
At what age are you diagnosed with asthma?
During the third grade, so around the age of 8 or 9 years old. I grew out of it and then it came back during my early beatboxing years.
Do you know what level of asthma you have? Intermittent, mild, moderate, severe?
At the time I had asthma, it might have been from moderate to severe. There were times I thought I could not breath or function normally during the more intense attack episodes.
Researchers are looking into possible genetic factors that may cause asthma. Does anyone else in your immediate family have asthma?
They used to, but not currently.
Do you notice anything specific that triggers your asthma attacks?
Secondhand smoke, weather and climate changes, anxiety, pressure, and stress. Lately, I've been keeping my spirit strong and have been healthy overall.
Do you worry about having an asthma attack on stage?
I've performed while recovering from asthma allergies on occasion. Performing while recovering allows me to combat asthma and kick it in its tush. I do not worry about having an attack, but I have opted out from a few gigs after an attack if rest is really what I needed.
Does asthma hinder your beatboxing in anyway? Are there any specific beatboxing tricks you can't do because of the asthma?
Sometimes I'll lose my voice on my high notes, and so I can't perform my high synthesizer techniques at all or my bass techniques without having to choke shortly after.
Clearing my sinuses is important, and hot spices are great for strengthening my immune system and clearing up my sinuses. If my nose is clogged up, then my throat has to work twice as hard to send oxygen to my lungs. I was not a fan of hot spices growing up, but I now include them in meals on occasion, because they benefit my overall health.
Going to the beach and getting sunshine and going in the water also help as well.
Do you use any specific methods to control your asthma?
Prayer in the spirit helps me tenfold to strengthen my overall health. Exercise is important. Even beatboxing while I've lost my voice tends to help me recover faster than if I were to stay silent and do nothing.
Any inspiring words for our readers with asthma who may be hesitant to engage in physical activities?
Don't be afraid of getting into physical activities once you talk to your doctor. Get out there, go out for hikes, go to the beach, take a walk, get out and dance. I've found that the more I exercise, the better it is for my overall health and condition to combat asthma.
It's when I do nothing or feel hopeless that my asthma condition, allergy, and attacks take far longer to go away. You are not without hope or help. You can win.
More than 22 million Americans have asthma, including nearly 6 million children.
Source US Department of Health and Human Services