Make Crappy Art

•February 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

 

I recently came across a forum post of a young artist asking for help freeing themselves from the perfectionism and fear preventing them from putting their art into the world.

Here’s the best advice I’ve got, I hope it may be helpful when you face the dark terror of producing art.

I’ve worked with many artists, especially in their late teens early 20s, who are TERRIFIED of going out into the world without something perfect. They listen to the best artists out there and compare themselves to that highest 1% of history while their own work is still developing.

First, watch this, the most important 2:00 of your day:

Now watch it every day before you start your art making

Then, I have an assignment for you, but only if you’re ready to be a real artist.

You have one problem.

It isn’t a lack of perfection.

A lack of skill.

A lack of ability.

It is a lack of FAILURES.

You haven’t failed enough to be good yet.

You may have failed a lot, but go out and make them big and public.

Your assignment?

100 Crappy Pieces of Art.

Songs, pages, blogposts, whatever.

You MUST produce BAD art.

You might get lucky, fail once or twice, and produce something kinda good.

You might not.

But you’ll learn to overcome your fear of shipping and putting real art into the world.

Good luck, PM me anytime, and go make art!

Clearing The Cobwebs

•December 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This post is a preview from my upcoming book:
S.I.N.G. A 4-Step Process For Finding Your Voice

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This is your wake-up call.

You need to make a decision right now. You’ve come this far. You’ve committed to getting this deep into the program. You’ve done more than most people ever will. You’d be amazed how many millions of books are bought each year as trophies to sit on a shelf, never to be opened.

You stand at a crossroads. When you start the next chapter, you’ll be singing every day. It won’t be a lot at the start, just a few minutes here and there, but you may feel very uncomfortable for a while. You are starting the journey to literally rewiring your brain in a number of ways.

First there is a part of your self-image that references your ability to sing. We’ve already talked about how you probably consider yourself a “non-singer” or just someone who “can’t sing very well” or “doesn’t sing”.

Exercise: Take out a piece of paper – a journal, a napkin, something! – and answer the following questions: “Am I a singer? Can I sing? Do I sing?”

Continue reading ‘Clearing The Cobwebs’

What does S.I.N.G. stand for?

•December 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This post is a preview of content from my upcoming book:
S.I.N.G.
A 4-Step Process For Finding Your Voice

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What is S.I.N.G.?

S.I.N.G. is the acronym we’ll be using to give structure to the process and help you find your singing voice. I’ll give you a bird’s eye view (macro) then dive into the details (micro) and finally come back up and summarize all we’ve learned (macro again).

First you will Sing daily, so you can see where you are and gauge progress as you develop. Second, you’ll Invest, Integrate, and Iterate, devoting time, effort, and money in coaching, classes, audio or video programs, and other resources that will not only accelerate progress, but hold you accountable while making singing a part of your life and improving over time. Third you will develop Natural technique, taking the best strategies from many sources and finding what works well for your individual voice and body. Finally, you will Grow steadily, maintaining the progress you’ve made so far and expanding on it in new ways.
By focusing on small wins and getting just a little better each session, you will be amazed by how quickly you can see results.

First, you must Sing daily.

Continue reading ‘What does S.I.N.G. stand for?’

“I Can’t Sing”, “I Don’t Sing” and “I Won’t Sing”

•October 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This post is a preview of content from my upcoming book:
S.I.N.G.
A 4-Step Process For Finding Your Voice

singer-mic

Do you sing?

We live in a culture filled with “non-singers”, people who claim they don’t sing, or hate singing, or can’t sing, or just won’t sing. In my years as a professional singer, choir director, and vocal coach I have run into thousands of people who make these claims the second they hear what I do. I once introduced myself at a PTO meeting in a new school district and was immediately greeted with three parents saying, “You won’t make us sing, right? You’re not going to make us sing. Just so you know, I can’t sing.” While most of the others shared similar fears in hushed tones.

How interesting that singing is at once a joy and relaxation for many, and a terror for others. We can hardly make it ten feet or ten minutes in the modern world without hearing song, whether on the radio, television commercials, youtube, iPods, elevator music, or any of the dozens of popular shows featuring singers from Glee to American Idol to America’s Got Talent. We hear singing all day long, we teach it in schools, we used to do it in church every Sunday, we did it around the campfire as kids and on the bus on the way to summer camp. What happened?

Continue reading ‘“I Can’t Sing”, “I Don’t Sing” and “I Won’t Sing”’

Record Yourself To Improve As A Musician

•February 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Webcam

A recurring theme in my teaching is the concept of “leverage points”.

Leverage points are actions that give you a big bang for your buck, a high return for the amount of energy you put into them, and there is usually a major reason why they work:

Most people don’t do them.

I’ll cover more leverage points in the coming weeks, today, I want to share how a really simple tool that you already possess can make you a much better musician almost immediately.

If you are reading this post, you are doing so on a computer or a smartphone, either of which likely has a built in microphone and camera. In an ideal world we’d have studio quality sound and HD video but let’s bootstrap it and get started with what we have.

You’re thinking “Record myself? I sound/look awful on tape, and I hate listening to it, this is stupid and it probably won’t help at all”

Continue reading ‘Record Yourself To Improve As A Musician’

What does it mean to “Read Music”?

•February 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Lofty title, I know.  Bear with me, as this will be a brief primer of deeper material to come.

I have trouble with the term “reading music”, as no one really agrees on what it means.  When a teacher says that they teach their students to “read music”, most of the time this translate to “they can look at notation on a staff and identify the letter names, sometimes with accidentals”.

I don’t consider that reading.  That’s like looking at the opening to the constitution and saying “that’s a w, and then an e, then there’s a space, and a t followed by an h and a e”, even being able to say “We the people…” doesn’t mean you know what it MEANS.

When I think of “reading” English, I don’t think of sounding out and identifying letters, or even of saying words correctly, I think of looking at symbols (writing) and HEARING the words inside your head and KNOWING what those words mean.

To translate to music, this would mean a “reader” can see the symbols (notation) and HEAR what it will sound like (audiate) and understand the MEANING of the sounds (pattern/tonality recognition)

I know, big words, and I’m not defining most of them, did I mention I need you to bear with me?

Continue reading ‘What does it mean to “Read Music”?’

How to Improve Your Auditions

•November 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

A parent of my student asked what her daughter can do to start preparing for an A Capella group audition.  Below, inspired by my reply , is a three step plan for improving your audition skills.  It’s not easy and it’s not quick, but the most effective things rarely are.

Learning to audition is a tricky process, as it is mostly an experiential thing,  You can learn all the technique in the world and practice every day, but when you are in the moment there is the element of stage fright which is so difficult to overcome.

As a professional musician and coach who has trained hundreds of musicians and performed in hundreds of concerts, I still feel that nervousness and anxiety each time in front of an audience.  In my experience, and in the experience of the countless professional musicians, actors, dancers, speakers, and other performers I’ve asked, it’s not that the feeling goes away as you progress.  What happens is we learn to take that feeling and reinterpret it as excitement, passion, or some other positive emotion.  Intellectually, I know that the buzzy feeling I get on stage today is the same one that had me shaking before auditions in high school.  Emotionally, it feels like excitement and anticipation, and it tells me I’m ready to go out and give it my all.

“That’s all well and good, but what can I do to get there?”

Continue reading ‘How to Improve Your Auditions’