Wow, we had some fascinating comments to my last blog post. It seemingly struck a chord with people. It really is fascinating how our belief systems operate, and what it is that forms our beliefs, isn't it?

If you haven’t read that article yet, click here to read it first - so you know what we are talking about.

I wrote about the importance of preparation and ended the article with the statement “Losers just wing it. Winners train and prepare.”

There were a lot of comments, even critical ones that would be worth addressing. Let’s today address one common belief that was formulated in this comment:

I find OVER preparation, where the singer does the same songs, the same way, at each performance, is Vanilla and BORING.

This is very common belief, and I would agree with her, but it of course depends on what we consider “preparation”.

I stated that people who excel know how to prepare. And part of skill development is to learn WHAT to prepare for and HOW to prepare.

This includes how to prepare for a performance/showcase/audition, such as preparing physically and mentally, developing and rehearsing the material, technical sound check, etc.

However, the art or preparation is much bigger than that. Everything you do in life is preparation for something in the future. Learning, growing, developing is preparation for something. The question is, what and how we prepare – i.e. what and how to learn.

If we think preparation for a performances means that you need to plan and rehearse the exact gesture you are going to make on the third word in the second sentence, then you are, in my opinion, not preparing to be an effective performer. (And yes, we have known performers fall into this trap too.)

If someone needs to sing through the entire song several times half an hour before the show, I wouldn’t consider that “preparation”. I would call that “freaking out”, and you’re doing it due to lack of preparation.

A stale and boring performance has little do with “over-preparation” really. It has to do with how and what you prepare and your training and your skill level.

Those who have studied with me know why I am the creator of the “Sing With Freedom” program and not the “Sing With Rigidity “ program. Prior to creating the home study version of what has become known as the Bristow Voice Method, I had become known as the person who not only helps people heal voice problems and develop their physical voices, but also trains people to become confident, charismatic, spontaneous, alive, and influential communicators and performers.

If you have seen the free video that I provide (the one that was recorded in the studio at the piano), I go into great detail of why it is that singing scales, for example, becomes counterproductive. The big problem with traditional singing training is that the belief in standing straight, using breath control, holding your jaw and larynx in a certain position, does indeed very often create rigidity instead of freedom. Many of you reading this have experienced this.

Yesterday’s actors were very much trained in making gestures and sounding in a certain way. Unfortunately, this thinking remains in much voice training, where the training is about making you sound a certain way, and do what is correct according to the book, rather than what is effective for you. Contemporary singers are well aware of this, which is why many shy away from those “singing lessons” – and understandably so.

In today’s world, we want truth and honesty on a different level than before. It’s part of human evolution. An effective singer today is not someone who can just create pretty sounds and Illustrate emotions through theatrical means. The effective singer is someone who can share real emotions, who can really bond with an audience, who is alive, charismatic, vulnerable and spontaneous.

But this is very hard to accomplish when the physical voice is restricted. Pros and beginners alike know how restricting it feels when battling fatigue, hoarseness, allergies, etc., when we feel the range and strength isn’t there, when we don’t feel as confident and free as we wish we did.

In The Singing Zone members’ area, freedom and truthful expression are big parts of the program. I provide a whole segment on the area of improvisation and being able to be spontaneous. It is also a big part of how to practice effectively. This is also why I, for example, provide the interview with a writer from Saturday Night Live, who is the ultimate expert on being creative and spontaneous by having to create comedy under a strict time line.

The beauty today is there are so many different versions of “singers”. There is no one specific way of singing these days and numerous styles are accepted by different kinds of people. Different ways of expressing is more accepted than ever before.

Which brings us to another comment from last week’s article:

"You either got it or you ain't. All the preparation in the world will not make an untalented voice sound palatable. If it were that easy everyone would be doing it wouldn't they?"

Although this person wanted to contradict what I wrote, he actually made my point perfectly.

A lot of people still seriously believe in the “Either you got it or you ain’t” philosophy, failing to be understand what “it” really is, and failing to understand what it takes to “get” something.

It is exactly because it is NOT easy, few people ever do what it takes to transform their lives, heal their bodies, or discover and develop their potential. It is always far easier to do what you’ve always done and believe what you’ve always believed rather than change. It is always far easier to NOT do something than to do it.

For any coach, the hardest thing is always to get the client to do what is necessary to succeed.

Which brings us to another comment from last week:

"If a person can sing, they can sing anywhere, everywhere and at any time."

Imagine having this person be the one who is going to sing the solo at your next concert, or be in your band or barbershop quartet. You ask for a rehearsal, but the person says “Nah, I already know how to sing. I can sing anywhere, everywhere and at any time.”

But the big problem in not just the flippant attitude towards preparation. The problem is once again this belief of “either we can or can’t”. And yet, there is really no such thing as “now I can play tennis" or "now I can’t”. There are just different levels.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I feel singing is for everyone. You don’t have to be a professional singer in order to enjoy singing.

How incredible it is for someone who was put done as a kid, who has always believed he couldn’t sing, but always wished he could, finally get to experience the wonderful feeling of enjoying music in a choir.

Even though I play tennis, I have no intent of trying to excel like Roger Federer. Nor am I unhappy that I can’t play like him. But I certainly always strive to improve every time I play and excel at my level. At the same time, I am not ignorant to not realize the enormous amount of work he has put in during his life-time, and how much he prepares for each tournament. And here's the important part: It is because of his enormous skill, he can improvise. And he must do it on pretty much every stroke.

Yes, it is the highly skilled musician with years of preparation who can join a jam session and improvise. It is the skilled comedian who can improvise.

So let’s adjust the statement “People who excel prepare” to …

People who excel have learned how to prepare and what to prepare in order to excel.

If you didn’t read Brian Lord’s comment, please read it. I found it very enlightening. Not surprising, he is a very accomplished musician and singer.

So to summarize this:

The pros I work with are the ones who never settle for “talent”. They always work on their craft. They are creative and productive. They struggle, they fall down, they get up again, and they learn from it.

The same mindset goes for all of you who sing as a hobby, who love to engage in activities such as singing for the sheer joy of it. You don’t need to excel on a professional level but you love to excel at your level. You are part of improving your communities and your audience by helping to create a wonderful emotional experience for them with your music. Or you prefer not to perform, but love to sing for your own inner satisfaction, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Most importantly, you don’t live the “I am what I am “ blocked mindset, but you realize that you are an evolving human being with the interest and capacity to learn and grow.

And for that I truly admire you.

About the author 


  • I am delighted with what I’ve just read above. As a musician and teacher I agree with all that has been said and find it so encouraging. Many thanks and God bless you.

  • As someone developing my singing talent, I agree totally, and know that with practice greater skills will be developed over time. it is a different experience for each person.

  • Per, you wrote: “It is always far easier to do what you’ve always done and believe what you’ve always believed rather than change.” Here is where fear(s), about which you wrote earlier, come in, i.e., the fear of change.
    It breaks my heart when people say to me that they can’t sing/carry a tune (fear) – my husband is one of them. I know that this belief cripples these people often as a result of one comment/opinion from their past which is carried into their present.
    I have only met ONE person in all of my 60 years of singing/teaching that was tone deaf and who sang on one note only. She sat behind my family in church when I was young. I have never heard anyone sing with such JOY. In my opinion, that is the “it” about which you write above, Per.
    Given that a belief is only a thought that I keep thinking, changing the thought to “If I prepare, I can excel” would be of such benefit. As long as the voice can move, there is potential there.
    It takes preparation, it takes commitment, it takes practice, it takes patience and the payoff is JOY. What more could one ask?
    Thanks for helping me/us improve our skills, Per.

  • Hi, Per, I am planning to purchase your program in few months. I’m excited to know that I can probably do something to improve my way of singing. My singing teacher and other people say that I’ve a very good voice and that when I sing a convey the emotions I feel. The problem is that I’ve stopped singing for about 15 years and now that I’m starting again I have realized that my vocal range is not as wide as it was before and I’ve “lost” my falsetto. What can I do?
    Another problem is that I am Italian and can’t understand all what you say in your course. Anyway you’re convincing and what you say in your video is true: singing doesn’t just require auditory skills but especialli cinestetic skills. And that singing is…freedom. Thanks

  • Hi per, I am asked to sig often at church . I am older now but when I was younger I was exited to sing for others and then somthing. Happened to myy enthusiasiam shortly after ii happend to see someone laughing and pointing at me in church. It has been years ago and still I can’t enjoy what others rave about when I am singing. I can’t even open my eyes to look at my audience. I feel so bad for thembecause I know they wonder what is wrong, some have even asked me why don’t I just let go and stop holding back. Do you have any advice I feel so sillybecause I was older than the ones that were laughing. I don’t know maybe it was the fact that they were the pastors children and I was just a little lay person. They were the only ones who were not pleased with me for some reason or another they say my lips were too large . Help I love singing , and I want to enjoy looking at the expressions on the peoples faces again. Any advice. Sighn. Soo sad……..]:

  • Thank you for sharing this information with me. I have been striving to improve my singing and performances at every Karaoke event that I have attended in the last couple months and this information you shared will go a long way. THANK YOU.

  • Per

    That was great . I TRULY appreciate your attitude,perspective,and brilliance as an
    artistic communicator. Be well my good man

    best wishes to you all

  • Very true…only when you’re at a high level you can improvise. which is not to say that if you have a great voice you can’t sing anywhere/anytime without preparation. it just means you need to have the mindset of being willing to work to change and grow and develop…things take time and effort. but the reward is well worth it…and thats what life is all about.

  • Hi Per,

    I’d like to add to the comment: I find OVER preparation, where the singer does the same songs, the same way, at each performance, is Vanilla and BORING. I can understand that too to a point, but what do we think professional singers do? They practice over and over again and perform the same songs night after night on tour. (Until a new album is released). You have to have an open mind and perspective because as the singer, you are the one that is able to add a little something new or change up that song so that it’s not performed the same way each time you sing it in front of your audience. I’ve been to concerts where the singer will change a line or add to it and what is great is that it is your song, so you have the FREEDOM to do that! 🙂 I also agree with what you said about warming up before hand, for example: singing scales, etc…but it’s not necessarily freaking out if you sing a song several times before a performance. It is if you don’t know the song very well and you haven’t practiced or had time to learn it. Then I agree that it would be lack of preparation and the singer probably would be extremely nervous. What I like about your program that is different from any other i’ve encountered is that you “help people heal voice problems and develop their physical voices, but also train people to become confident, charismatic, spontaneous, alive, and influential communicators and performers.” (From your quote above) It is the ultimate satisfaction when you can be confident and really reach your audience on a personal level. I think you are also correct in saying that most people feel they can’t transform their voice or have what it takes, so they simply just don’t try rather than believing in themselves that they can. Isn’t it a joy to know that that’s not the case? Believe in yourself and you can do anything, no matter how long it takes to excel. It’s like you said, ” you struggle, you fall down, you get up again, and you learn from it.”

  • Dear Per and audience, I find much wisdom in your words. I particularly stick to “In today’s world, we want truth and honesty on a different level than before. It’s part of human evolution. An effective singer today is not someone who can just create pretty sounds and illustrate emotions through theatrical means. The effective singer is someone who can share real emotions, who can really bond with an audience, who is alive, charismatic, vulnerable and spontaneous… You are part of improving your communities and your audience by helping to create a wonderful emotional experience for them with your music.” I really hope –and struggle for this human evolution that demands truth and honesty, particularly in a global environment where lies and deceit have become the day to day political agenda. I am a born-musician who did not flourish professionaly due to lack of inner strength and external support. Nevertheless, my musical calling is as alive and kicking as ever and I struggle to express it at any opportunity. Although my main interest is in jazz drumming, I have been co-opted by wife and friends to sing, have shared a gospel choir with my wife (see and enjoyed the privilege of outstanding Catalan stages such as Auditori ( ), Palau de la Música Catalana ( and Gran Teatre del Liceu ( ). I moved recently to Panama, where I share Latin-jazz drum playing with jazz standards and bolero singing with some local and Cuban outstanding musicians. Per, I am seriously considering your course not only for the technical aspects that could (hopefully!) bring some “seriousness” to my (perhaps too much) spontaneous performances, but mainly for the wisdom I find in your words, as I already mentioned. Let me finish with other wisdom words by the jazz bassist Holger Scheidt. Big hug from Panama to you all!

    Holger Scheidt on music:

    “My new record project is dedicated to all the individuals out there, who find meaning in the creation of music. It seeks to capture the fact that the production of great beauty, besides talent and great perception, oftentimes requires great sacrifice, and that only strong dedication, persistence, will and great intelligence will allow an artist to contribute to the human treasury of art.”

    Holger Scheidt on jazz:

    “Music is invisible. Music is immaterial. Although the great majority of people trust the hasty impressions of their eyes and grabbing hands, rather than the subtleness of their ears and the soft voice of their souls, there have never been such a great number of extraordinary musicians all over the world who dedicate their lives to the instant creation of beauty. They train themselves like soldiers in order to be able to fire at any moment. They are never off-guard. The delicacy of airwaves and the responsibility to master them in an inspiring way imprints all the best human qualities such as courage, sensitivity, balance of emotion and rational control as much as the unity of mind and body in every single cat’s character. It is why the minor percentage of the world’s population which considers itself jazz musician is blessed like no other group.
    They choose risk and hardship for the sake of beauty and freedom in the honour of music’s spiritual might. Despite the fact that in the eyes of many they fail to create value, they indeed represent the best and brightest in a world in need of courageous, yet sensitive, communication. They are the ones who know how to build constructively and effectively on what is called humanity.
    Music is an unsafe haven. And since there is no safe haven, it is the truth and it makes cats, the elite battalion of life, strong to survive, to fly and fall as high and low as they can.

    So here is to you my brothers: Stand Tall and Inspire.”

  • I’ve sang professionally(as a lead vocalist and background vocalist). I suffered a blow to my throat in February of this year and haven’t been able to reach sing with the ease I enjoyed before. Also, I am unable to reach the notes that I was famous for. I went to my family doctor and an ear nose throat doctor. Both agreed that physically, there was nothing wrong. It actually hurts when I try and sing now. A good friend of mine(who is a vocal coach) directed me to your website. He said that part of it could be psychological. Any thoughts, advice or suggestions are truly welcome. Oh! I forgot to mention that my vocal sweet spot is falsetto. My natural speaking voice is baritone.

  • It all rings disturbingly true, especially when already in the “third age” and excelling has been rare! But you are a real stimulus striving to be an excellent choir boy even yet.
    Thanks for sharing your skills with us.

  • I’d like to encourage Me Me, I too was ridiculed by people who should have known better. I had no confidence in myself at all and would panic if I was asked to sing solo. But now with God’s help I have overcome the fear and am singing solo all the time I lead the worship at church. I say let go and let God, allow His love to heal you. When you sing be proud of the voice you have been given and don’t allow anyone or anything to take away what the Lord has given you. Keep having your lessons with Per, he is a very kind man and will help you overcome any problems with your singing. God Bless you.

  • i have not yet met the freedom of singing. I am amazed by you way explained it. I am very interesting to join it. however, i have lost my job , i can not afford to pay now. soon i found a job i will join the program. I started singing when i was five years old . I am gifted with an extraordinary voice. i would like to have your phone number the way i can contact you directly. hope to join you program soon .

  • Thanks Per! You said it perfect. I am a worship leader, prophetic worship has become a beautiful way to commune with God. I cannot practice songs because I do not know what I will be singing, it comes from the Throne, BUT, I can prepare myself vocally and spiritually for this task!!!!!!

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