In teaching singing, I often come across questions relating to these particular subjects and though maybe others of you might have the same questions and/or suggestions that would be good to share.
I think that often, as voice teachers, we don’t talk enough about why it’s important to gain a really solid vocal foundation on which to build a singing career before venturing out there into the real world of professional singing. To me, the main focus of performance is to tell the story; to take the audience on a journey. Making that happen is much easier to do when you have a foundation on which to build the character and place the framework of the piece. It gives you the freedom to make all the appropriate colors, sounds, inflections, and dynamics that bring a character and story to life. The venue doesn’t matter. It can be anything from an audition, to performing solos for your church job, presenting a community concert, singing for friends and family, to a star studded staged opera with orchestra. It’s doing your job because that is your job, to tell the story.
As a singer, you are a story teller and the more solid your vocal technique, the more intricate and well flavored the story can be; you take your audience on an amazing journey by scooping them up in your arms at the beginning of the journey, and gently putting them back at the end as you thank them for trusting your choices on this journey. It doesn’t matter who they are, know that they are there to escape to another time and place; to forget about their cares and worries for a few hours. Think of the possibilities… even in an audition.
“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” – Bo Bennett
Another great point about your perception of us as teachers needs to be: we are only the source of information. It’s up to you to participate, ask questions, remain flexible and curious, then take what you have learned, examine it, sample it, test drive it and then evaluate it and do this process over and over again until it becomes both your habit and a reliable tool. Otherwise, you will get nothing out of a lesson and wonder why you are not improving. Know that what you choose to do with this information is totally up to you. You are responsible for owning how and what you learn. When you go off to practice or perform is when the real work begins. We, as teachers are giving you permission to figure this process out. We want to make you conscious of how you do what you do so you can create a new and productive habit. And habits are difficult to change. Neuroscience now says that there is no changing an existing habit, one must not try to fix it, but literally create a whole new synaptic connection by reinforcing the process of the new habit only. That means that the minute you realize you have gone astray, as you work your new technique, you must stop immediately, let it go, and start back at square one, back at the beginning of the new process. This grows the new connection in your brain until it becomes the stronger of the two choices and the old habit lies dormant as you move forward. This kind of work creates legitimate power, control and opportunity. Think about the possibilities…
“‘The show must go on’ is still the first commandment in show business, and whoever does not have the strength of will and character to live up to it had better choose a different career right from the start. Outsiders get to see only the so-called glamour surrounding artists and never suspect the extremes of self-denial, disappointment, and constant inner struggle which comprise the very fundamental aspects of our profession. But however great its sacrifices, the rewards are splendid indeed.” – Lotte Lehmann
Do you tend to measure your self-worth as the person, by believing it depends on your perception of how well you do vocally when singing? Are you looking for personal validation every time you sing? Unconsciously many aspiring performers do just this. I find it sad that many of you have fallen prey to this unhealthy belief system. It’s time to change that perception.
There is absolutely no way anyone can second guess what someone else is thinking about you and what you do. There are so many variables in another person’s choices. And also, any time you sing and perform it is a very subjective taste issue. Some people will love what you do, some will just like it OK and some will absolutely hate it. That is human nature. You have no power nor can you control the outcome of a situation. You have to train yourself to let go of all the emotional drama and baggage you are feeling, breath and leave some room for the Universe to do its work on your behalf, and then accept whatever the outcome happens to be and move on. It’s not personal, or emotional, it’s the nature of our industry.
Your real worth as a person comes from discovering and presenting the whole person, not just a small part of you. What do you want others to say about you? To get comfortable with yourself, start by figuring out what you value deep down. Realize that you already generate a powerful, clear and positive idea when others think of you as a whole person. This is your brand and when you example it, it captures not only the mind, but also the heart of others. When you build this kind of brand representation, you get to define you, no one else can. You can start living a more representative life of the whole person, not justifying your existence and self worth by allowing it to be based solely on your singing ability. You get to be more authentic, show your uniqueness and discard all the disguises, lies and defenses you used to use when thinking about yourself. And even when you become more of who you as you grow and change, not everyone will agree with you or like you. It’s just human nature. So what do you want your Personal Brand to say about you? Imagine the possibilities…
“What you think of me is none of my business.” – Terry Cole-Whittaker
Let me hear from you – Avanti and ciao until next time. Carol