Thursday, September 12, 2013

On Habits, Breakthroughs, Practice, and Consciousness...

Pep talk time...

I see this happen all the time in the studio: we see a problem, identify a plan to fix it, consciously try something different, a breakthrough happens, and a moment of clarity is experienced. Victory! For the singer working to improve their technical abilities, it's a truly joyful experience - a window into a realm of greater possibilities... What follows the breakthrough is the really important stuff! It can either turn that breakthrough into something useful, or send it into a pit of self doubt.

What if we take a step back, and see the breakthrough as just the seed of a new habit or skill? We can frame the breakthrough not as a destination, but as a trail marker on the journey through your process. That seed takes conscious care, implementation, and practice to cultivate it into something useful and durable. Doing the work "behind the scenes", when nobody is watching, is vital to building consciousness and confidence with your new tools. You can observe and control what you do very clearly in your own laboratory/studio/workshop, and bring your findings into practice at your next lesson, rehearsal, performance, etc.

An unpracticed breakthrough can build into its own struggle, and has the added dimension of shame attached to it - since the person not practicing the breakthrough is at fault for their own lack of progress. That shame element makes the breakthrough itself seem more and more distant and unattainable the longer it is unpracticed.

Change is possible, though! It doesn't have to be overwhelming. Achieving your goals requires building and nurturing of good habits. This is done over time, in small and manageable ways.

Let me break it down for you...

Relying on a useless habit/Unconsciousness = No progress.

Identifying a useful solution, and consciously implementing it = Breakthrough.

Conscious work/practice/cultivation = Building a new, useful habit.

This concept fits in so many other areas: fitness, communication, productivity, relationships, and so on... It seems so obvious, yet it's saddening to see how little this positive consciousness is used. Most of us truly ARE creatures of habit. Why not build and nurture good habits? Sure it'll take some work, but that's where the magic happens.

Here's to cultivating new habits, and being empowered toward your goals!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Leave Beyoncé alone...

I want to elaborate on a facebook post I made this morning:

"Dear everybody, 

LEAVE BEYONCE ALONE! It's funny to me that some people are so flustered about a "RECORDING ARTIST" using a RECORDING for a performance... If you wanted a fully LIVE sung performance, you'd ask for a singer who does THAT for a living - fully LIVE singing. Not a singer who primarily does recordings, and mega-arena concerts with the help of a backing track (of her own voice) that the artist may or may not be singing along with. Apples and oranges, people. Feel free to discuss..."

Which leads me to the point... Why are so many of us upset by this? 

The pop music industry: American Idol, mega-concert tours, recordings, merch... It's based on recorded material and edited image - not live vocal performance. I'm a little torn, to be honest, as I chime-in to point out a subtle hypocrisy... On one hand, I'm an acoustic singer - always 100% live and never 100% perfect - I live for singing to be human and touch my listeners in real-time. On the other hand, I like other kinds of music and other kinds of musicians. Here's where it gets tricky: when people don't understand what they're seeing/hearing and react in a negative way. 

I think it's ridiculous that anyone would pay hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars to go see a pop star in an arena, somehow thinking all they are going to be hearing is the real-time voice of the artist they worship, a live band, get a lights/dance/multimedia extravaganza, AND NOT KNOW WHAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY SEEING. Ahem..., but you didn't buy an album of a live singer with a live band. You bought something that was produced and processed in a studio through computers. I say again, you're not buying a live singing experience - you're buying an incredible super-processed work of technological art. To be clear, I have immense respect for these artists, who work non-stop on their shows, their publicity, their careers, etc. They entertain the masses, and are important benchmarks of our modern culture. 

So, the fact remains, there's a difference between a singer that primarily performs LIVE (unamplified is yet another tier of this kind of singer), and a singer that primarily RECORDS. That doesn't mean the artist can't sing live, but doesn't spend the majority of their life cultivating the technique and the distinctive psychology to support the act of live vocal performance. Different products: apples, and oranges.

When you see a recording artist lip-sync, please don't act all stunned or self-righteous. If what you really want is a live singing experience, ask for it, and get it!

End of rant. 

Be good to each other. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013