Sunday, July 24, 2016

Get Your Goal

Any time that you think that you are not good enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, not skilled enough, not knowledgeable enough, then you...YOU are lying to yourself.  This does not apply to all people but it does apply to you.  Some people are not up to the task but YOU are. 

You are at a fork in the road.

One side leads to success.  The other side leads to murdering your joy, your dreams, your aspirations, your goals by pretending that you are not who and what you are.  You can put your energy on one or two places:

1) trying to find WHY you have doubts that cripple you or

2) gather up all that is inside of you and force yourself to do the work but do not make it bigger than what it is.  That only will lead to being overwhelmed and that leads to murdering the artist in yourself.  It IS life or death but you will make the decision to live or die as an artist and following that path.  You will have to make choices and decisions every day and perhaps every hour but it is as simple as a thought in the direction of your destiny. 

As you progress toward your life as an artist, you will gain confidence and strength.  Evaluate your assets and also your deficits.  In reality, negative people or negative thoughts or criticism are enemies to your goals.  You don't need to attack them but you do need to not let them affect you any more than single a drop of rain would.  It is insignificant.  Small changes, building over time, lead to the fulfillment of your goals.  This is just how it works.  It has been said that patience is the cure for frustration.  Part of knowing the rules of the game is knowing that playing within them works.  Violating them leads to frustration, losing time, and pain.

You may have made the tasks appear larger than what they are and have caused yourself overwhelm or you may have thought of a longer runway than what it actually is and have overestimated time.  It takes less time and effort than what it feels like and you could only know that had you already achieved your goals.  So, you must have some faith and belief of the possibility of this being true. 


We are not born walking but we do walk.  You can only build on success but it is incremental, never instantaneous.  You are today, where you are on a path to success.  For some reason the plan or the map has not been clear.  Let me know if you need help with that and we can implement a myriad of sequential steps, done within a time frame. 

The first step is to make a decision.  That sounds simple, in and of itself.  It is.  However, the word decision, can be made to mean that you cut off all possibilities of NOT doing what needs to be done.  When you "don't feel like doing it" or do not do it, you are going the wrong way and are literally creating unhappiness and possible failure.  The thing to do is to act.  Action is much more powerful than thought in the achievement of goals. Don't get this wrong, though.  Thought is very very powerful and is capable of either starting or stopping your progress.  The best thing is that thought can also help you change direction and to keep you moving in a straight line to a goal, instead of being distracted from it. 

You need a rigid and unchangeable policy in place to handle any pattern which is stopping you or slowing you down which can include both thought and action or the lack thereof. Without a policy of how you operate as an artist, you will be subject to every little whim of yourself and others and may wake up one day, still lying to yourself that you are too old and that it is too late.  Now is the time, your time.  It is the only equal asset that the living have.  Use it and prosper or waste it and suffer the consequences.

 Write down your policy for yourself and let me know what it is.



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

POTENTIAL

I see potential.  I can also estimate it and quantify it and can explicitly evaluate it.  Is that good?  It is sometimes painful.  I have heard many many singers.  I can hear their strengths and their weaknesses.  Excluding everything but sound, I do hear if musicianship is weak.   What is musicianship?  It is a range of skill and may include knowledge and nomenclature, but is demonstrated in singing.  The subject of music theory has something to do with that, but not in a creative fashion.  When I hear a singer, I know what needs some help or attention. 

I was cursed with a thing called perfect pitch.  It is hard to describe what that is like but it is like being able to differentiate color in a painting or timbre of a specific instrument as compared to another but is more subtle.  Nonetheless, one pitch compared to another has some characteristic of being able to hear and recognize, as you recognize someone's voice.  How helpful is this?  I also hear chords, the inversions, the voicings, instantly and without "analyzing".  I just get the whole "picture" all at once.  This is also useful for singers, for me to have this broad perspective.

I write music EVERY day and have over 2000 pieces: songs, instrumental, jazz, orchestra, big band, marching band, country, pop, R&B, Ballads, Latin, Broadway, etc. 26 styles total. What other vocal coach/musician/teacher can say that? 

One could say that specialization is the key.  Is it?  Diversity is the universal key or solvent.  Da Vinci was in many ways similar to me, in that I also know architecture, engineering, building methods, and several sciences in depth, including acoustics.  I draw and have painted and this "cross-training" has added to, rather than taken away from my music.

Despite the knowledge of music and the skill of a singer, I must say that the single biggest issue or struggle singers have, has nothing to do with singing or music.  The single biggest issue always will be the mind of the singer and the state of health of that mind.  When it is healthy, the mind can learn rapidly and pass it on to the voice.  More careers are made or broken in the mind than anywhere else.  Singers who spend time criticizing themselves or others will find that is the most deleterious activity there is.  Energy will be used to build up, to tear down, or to maintain and it is nothing more or less than a mere decision, a choice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How To Fail Or...

What usually happens when you give someone some great advice, advice that is proven to produce quantifiable success and has worked for many people? What usually happens? Nothing. Most people seem to be not inclined to change anything, let alone succeed in a big way. 

The real reason for resentment when a person becomes aware of another's success or wealth is the pain some specific emotions bring. Envy and jealousy are usually coupled with some serious avoidance of reality.... The reality of never practicing, the reality of having incorrectly assessed or incorrectly having estimated the amount of work and dedication but also having never done the necessary work can be painful to realize. Most cannot face this deficiency in character or in work ethic because it is virtually inseparable from one's own personal integrity. To do so would bring a person to a fork in the road. One side leads to an introspection followed by a pity party, fraught with self-deprecating "affirmations" and THEN followed by giving up on dreams and goals. The other side leads to reassessing and reevaluating the effort put forth and the results of that effort. It does NOT include letting oneself off the hook by diminishing oneself and lying about never having had the talent when in fact, talent was never the issue. 

Most people (failing in the arts) lack the ability to practice, to objectively evaluate and keep track of progress, NOT talent. Talent is rarely the issue for failure in the arts. It can look so easy to sing, to play an instrument, to paint, to write, to dance. Why? We are usually looking at the people who put in the education and the practice to look or sound so good. Ask a top professional about the time and quality of work that went into the art before it was ever shared in a big way. 

Success cannot be guaranteed but lack of success can be guaranteed. How? Never practice or practice too little. Never bother to learn vocal technique and music in depth. Work on changing yourself INSTEAD of doing the work everyone else did to be and do what you say YOU want. Do that and get nowhere in a hurry. Put in no time or too little time and it is almost 100% guaranteed you will NEVER be a good, let alone a professional, artist.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Mastering Singing

What do you know?  What can you do?   What do you need to learn?  What do you need to practice, to improve?  The greatness of a singer is somewhat analogous to the greatness of an architect.  Singers will only be as good as what they know and what they can do with what they know.  Many singers fall short with musicianship.  They cannot name or identify what they have heard as far as chords, chord progressions, chord voicings.  Some can, though.  Ear training, as it is called, can enhance such skills.  Music theory is also helpful.  There's much more, though. Here are the 18 Components of Singing Mastery:  How would you estimate your level regarding these?

1.State of mind
2.Clear vision
3.Goal setting and achievement
4.Purpose(s)
5.Action Plans
6.Tracking Systems
7.Physical Health
8.Musicianship
9.Vocal Use (Technique)
10.Creative Artistry
11.Objectivity
12.Perseverance
13.Talent
14.Business and Financial Expertise
15.Appearance
16.Charisma
17.Showmanship
18.Communication Ability

Architects know about function and structure and forces of nature and chemistry and physics and strengths of materials and environmental control systems and human needs and code requirements and much more.  You might think a person who draws plans and doesn't think much about it is an architect.  There is as much skill and knowledge to every art.  Some things are definable and some are not. 

Musicianship is a vast subject and so is vocal technique.  Many singers have the talent but lack elsewhere.  Sadly enough, some are in a very bad state of mind which can and will affect the art of singing or music.  A singer with no charisma is a very sad state in that it is also a state of being blind to objectivity.  There is so much more than meets the eye, with being a professional level performer.  Some people do sing just for fun and that's okay but the chasm between that at successfully performing is deep and wide, only to be bridged by enhancing the 18 components of singing mastery.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Is THIS ABOUT SINGING?

This is about all of us who sing and all of us who do not sing:

What would happen in the world, if wisdom were to become common sense? What would happen: if reason were to take precedence over emotions, if people would act instead of complain, if we would work harder at searching for common ground (rather than defending a position), if we would unite on principles of fairness, goodness, and would love rather than hate? What would happen? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? The departure from such things has been an incremental one. The return to such things, if it ever happens, will be an incremental one. We all have everything we need to start a renaissance, back to being civilized, just as a simple little acorn has everything in it to grow into an oak tree. Just add air, water and some nutrients, a little sunshine and voila. It starts with "one". It starts with many multiples of one. The age of information has become the age of misinformation. Truth, which should be ubiquitous, has become elusive and in some cases inaccessible and unattainable. Therefor, the information age has failed us. It is polluted and poisoned and fraught with delusion and deception. It is replete with opinions that are accepted as fact and with facts that are skewed, distorted, or biased in such a way that they become so convoluted that they are nearly impossible to unravel. Yet, they are accepted at face value, not exposed to hard evidence, devoid of any critical thinking, making more nebulous the division of what was once called "church and state".  It is not politically correct to even be religious yet party members behave as if the party is the new religion.   Now that we all have our own soap box upon which to stand and espouse our brilliant opinions, everyone has equal opportunity to make an utter fool of oneself. Observe for yourself the infantile attacks which follow posts and read the entire thread and you will see the immature and sophomoric stooges that political zealots have become. It's not only repulsive and disgusting, it is an insult to intelligence and embarrassing that individuals can be whipped into such a frenzy of belligerence. Nothing gets accomplished from the hate war. War accomplishes one thing only that is for certain and that thing is destruction. Whether it is a war of words or a war of nations, destruction will always be a guaranteed outcome. What can we do? Fighting is not the answer. That has failed. Incremental changes. Who wants to be hated? People want loving relationships in their personal lives. If you don't believe it, hang around some divorce courts for a while. If I am going to make it all about me, then I can start working on having more: understanding, tolerance, and love for others and for principles which support such things. I can look for the good in others, rather than attacking them for their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. BUT what if someone is filled with hate and driven to destroy others? What do we do with the sociopaths and psychopaths? What do you do with wild animals who would attack you or others? Give them space. Stay away. Defend yourself if and when necessary. Have things in place in society to protect ourselves from such people. The picture is HUGE but as individuals, politicians and politically driven people would prefer to make each person insignificantly small and unintelligent. Politics is filled with deception and delusion. It is about control and manipulation and it is sold as if it is for the good of the people but the people have become serfs and the royalty wants for the royalty what the royalty wants. The commonality between royalty of history and royalty now is wealth. There is much more alike than different between front running political candidates than they would EVER allow you to think. If you think the race for president of the U.S. has looked dirty up to this point, just wait and watch. But then again... What would happen in the world, if wisdom were to become common sense?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Do You Strain For High Notes?

Straining For High Notes?

Do you strain for high notes?  You are, if you feel you have to force out a note, increase the volume, or if you tense up.  Tension can be in the neck, the tongue, or the jaw and it can feel like muscle tension or pain.  There is a way to stop straining but merely thinking about it will not work. 

What causes tension?

You cause tension.  You are trying to overcome something else, though.  Improper training, improper singing technique, and not maintaining your voice are three issues which one or all lead to straining.  When the muscles inside your neck aren't doing their job, you activate outside muscles to try to overcome the others.  They are not related and not connected to muscles which do the job of singing without straining.

So, what, if I strain?

Here's what: You will lose endurance.  You will lose or not have the ability to sing without breaks or cracks in your range.  You will not have high notes. You will cause irritation that can lead to blisters or vocal nodules, if you strain over a period of time.  Nodules cause severe hoarseness which lasts for two weeks or more and also will cut of the top end of your range.  If you get them surgically cut off, you may be left with scar tissue.  Scar tissue does not vibrate like undamaged tissue and you will not have your natural sound and this will probably be permanent.

How do I not strain?
Get proper vocal training.  This means to get training from a vocal coach who know how to safely sing and also to be able to sing high and/or powerfully.  All vocal coaches do no know how to train singers this way.



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

Regardless of whether you feel that you need huge changes or some slight "tweaking", the same principles apply, to arrive at your destination.  Whether you believe it or not, your approach will be the same if it is a huge change or if it is a minor one. 

I could teach you every chord there is in 3 hours on a piano, to where you could play any that I would call out to you, or read off a lead sheet.  This time frame will be more, if you cannot focus well or cannot assimilate new information well.  Your intelligence level also will come into play.  Still, you cannot absorb a huge body of data instantly.  It must be revealed piece by piece. 

The same is true with singing.  Corrections and the practice involved are incremental and there is an added factor of emotions, thoughts, beliefs and misinformation (of which you are currently unaware) that can slow or stop your progress.  You kind of have to clean house before you can totally move in and live there.

If you were flying from the United States to Europe, there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of course corrections along the way.  You wouldn't notice them, if you had a competent and considerate pilot.  You would notice if he jerked the plane around, forcing it to stay on course, despite wind or other traffic in the air.  That wouldn't be a very comfortable ride, now, would it?  This begs the questioning of a worn out truism: "You've got to get out of your comfort zone."  Really?  Maybe you just need to make small changes over a few days, weeks, or months and you can arrive at your destination without bumps, bruises, or mental trauma.