Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are You Stuck?

If you think you are stuck, you are.  For how long will you remain stuck?  You can determine that factor.  If you have gone for ice cream and were set on chocolate, have you changed your mind and got something else?  It's not a trick question.  It's not a question to test your resolve or your ability to follow through with an intention.  The question is, have you changed your mind and/or can you change your mind?

The best of the best of: athletes, artists, mathematicians, physicians, singers, composers would quite possibly agree that their activities are better than 90% mental.  I believe that they are 100% mental after having studied a thing called neuroplasticity, even though I studied it to a very small degree.  I am not putting forth that my hour spent on the subject makes me any kind of an expert but it has opened my eyes to possibilities, causes and effects, and ways of accelerating learning and training in multiple disciplines.

I always wondered why I had such diverse interests.  I was fascinated by: astronomy, music, architecture, art, mechanics, physics, chemistry, biology, electronics, sports, and multitudes of other subjects and activities.  The answer to 'why' has become inconsequential or unimportant to me.  The more important thing is that I have functioned at a professional level in the fields of architecture, music, electronics, mechanics, and also in technician-level activities of carpentry, electricity, plumbing and others.  From the aspect of this thing called neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, to be programmed, to be re-programmed makes me see a result of multi-field functionality.  In other words, I can now grasp not the 'why', but instead the results of such diverse cross training, as it were.  I draw on all of my experience and knowledge and can see where the intersections are among and between them.  I believe anyone can do this, if they take the time.

Two things must occur in order to master a skill.  One, there has to be sufficient knowledge to function at all and two, there has to be assimilation and utilization of the knowledge in a mental and physical way.  Mental alone may make a change but the physical aspect of training seems to deepen and broaden a skill to such an extent as to make it appear phenomenal to a person lacking the same skill.  You see this in sports and in the arts.  You hear it in professional singers. What you are observing is the after effect of training.

What is training?  It is gathering knowledge, attaching it to prior knowledge, and following through with practical application iteratively or repetitively over time.  It doesn't matter if it is a sport, an art, or even if it is writing.  All of these require mental engagement and acuity, coupled with activity, resulting in an amount or level of acumen. 

On the surface, the act of singing well sounds and looks easy.  For some people it is easy.  Others have issues or problems or empty spaces of knowledge of some of the many aspects of great singers' knowledge and ability.  There are now available to me mirroring techniques and new ways of locating and obliterating the obstacles between where a singer is and where the singer wants to be.  The mental beliefs dictate everything a singer can do.  They connect to knowledge and skill also.  The good news is that control is possible of the mind and of the voice.  The computer upon which I am typing right now is a very basic version of the human mind.  It illustrates that change is possible.  When you install a new program, you get functions which were not possible prior to the installation.  The potential was in the computer all along but it had to be "shown" how and what to do in a sequential procedure in order to carry out the task.

The experience I bring as a vocal coach is unique.  The same could be said for any vocal coach.  There are differences in that: I have perfect pitch,  I hear melody and harmony so completely, that I can write down or state what I hear, I can write it down and hand it to musicians and it will sound the same as what I originally heard, as long as the musicians are skilled in their reading and playing.  What else?  I have a very good working knowledge in acoustics, recording engineering, composition, arranging and more.  I have a broader perspective but can also bring my focus to a precise point when necessary.  My acoustics knowledge has included drawing plans for the mixing room at NBC Burbank for the Tonight Show, back when Johnny Carson was the host.  I understand sound transmission control and live end-dead end concepts.  I have taken the time to consult with ENTs and have read the writings of ENTs so as to learn how to help singers avoid injury.  I independently have studied nutrition and can offer some useful advice to singers who may have issues of vocal "dryness" or other seemingly minor problems but are major to the singer.  My musical background spans a few decades and includes working professionally in Las Vegas.  Some of, if not the best musicians in the world have worked there at one time.  The exposure to them and working with some of them brought about concepts of true state of the arts industry standards. 

What I have learned, I can share.  Several of my relatives are also teachers.  Your success is directly proportional to your involvement and participation.  You can change.  You can get more out of training that you put in to it, or so it will seem when you find yourself on stage, bright lights in your eyes, and you look out upon the audience as you comfortably and confidently share your gifts and the results of your training.  It is all in your mind.  You can make it a reality or keep it a secret for a while longer.  Your life.  Your passion.  Your choice.