What does it really take to become a good singer? The world is after all full of people who really would love to sing, but don’t believe they can. Where does confidence come from? This is a long letter I received which I have gotten permission to publish. There are a lot of issues to address and I have gone ahead and intercepted the letter with some responses. See how this applies to you and/or people you know. here is is:
Dear Per, I was wondering if you could give me some advise on what I wrote below! I know it’s a lot but maybe you could tell me what you think as a professional! When I was younger I used to sing at home around the house to everything, then when I was 8 I recorded myself singing. I listened back to it and it sounded pretty awful and out of tune so I decided never to sing around people again.
Unfortunately, it’s more common than we may think that we make dramatic “decisions” based on some perceived “bad experience” which then affects our lives - even if it is on a subconscious level. It’s sad that this is so common when it comes to singing. We would hopefully not make the decision to stop playing basketball because we happened to miss the first shot we tried?& In your case it has nothing to do with your singing ability, but your tendency to make such a judgment about yourself. (As you will see below, there is a reason for this).
Now I’m learning to play acoustic guitar and I sing at home to my CDs. I can reach the high notes the same as the singers singing the songs. Even though I don’t know what it sounds like to anyone else! But I noticed I can’t sing the same when I sing on my own.
Yes, singing a capella (without accompaniment) is a far more advanced skill than singing to music. In The Singing Zone I provide an ear training course, rhythm training course and a music theory course in addition to the voice training, so that you develop these skills also.
A few years back my mom made me enter X factor. I didn’t want to, I don’t have much confidence, I’m quite shy, and I’ve never sung in front of anyone, but I went along. I didn’t have a song prepared, but went with Dimming of The Day. The 3 judges were listening very attentively and I was shaking all over! I got to the chorus but couldn’t reach the high note. It was screechy and out of tune and one of the guys was laughing at me! All I could think about was getting out of the room!
So you made a fool out of yourself. Terrific. Welcome to the club. Now, it might be interesting to know that professionals prepare extensively while beginners tend to wing it. Successful people prepare to succeed. Did you prepare to succeed? Apparently not. It seems pretty obvious you would fail. How could you not? This has nothing to do with your potential to sing. And singing off key and not “reaching” high notes is far more a muscle/mind issue than an ear issue.
Now, why is it that so many want to put themselves in similar situations, but do not want to work hard to prepare? Why do so many seek fame without having done their home work? (you’ll find part of the answer below)
I got some advise and was told the reason that what I hear sounds good but what comes across in the recording and maybe to other people (as I’ve never been told what I sound like) is bad, is because my inner ear isn’t in tune?
Why would it be in tune if you have never sung before, especially a cappella in front of people? It makes it sound as if it is some kind of inborn deficiency. It’s not your ear that is the problem. Your problem is that you haven’t developed the skills and didn’t prepare. You dived into the Olympic swimming pool without knowing which stroke you were supposed to swim. How about if I suddenly dived into the pool in the 100 meter butterfly, just to find my self violently flapping my arms in a desperate attempt to avoid swallow the entire pool, and all I can think of is if anyone will throw me a floating device within the next four seconds. Then afterwards someone would give me the advice: “Hey, your problem is that your arms aren’t in tune with your legs” Well, duh, thanks for the tip, buddy.
Most swimmers would be recommended to start learning and practicing in the local pool - preferably under the guidance of someone who can teach it. How about we adopt the same philosophy for singing?
I love to sing and really it’s a dream of mine to sing and make people happy when they listen to me sing and make my mum proud of me, but I don’t feel right now it is something I will ever do!
And there we have it. The child who is judgmental about him/herself is the child who is afraid of making mistakes. The child who is afraid of making mistakes is so because of the need to receive approval. A child who grows up to believe that the way he draws, sings or behaves is to make people happy, is the child who becomes programmed to believe that he isn’t good enough. This child will always seek external approval. This is what we call low self-esteem. This is the person who grows up to seek instant gratification, who needs to be in the limelight and shoots himself in the foot every time, or goes on hiding from himself and others. This person will get caught in a trap of seeking quick-fixes rather than enjoy long term processes – such as intense preparation. The person who is afraid of making mistakes inevitably makes a lot of mistakes - she attracts more of it.
Pride might seem honorable. However, the truth is that pride is a negative emotion. It is something far different from positive states of acceptance, joy and love. (That’s for another discussion.)
And for you who are reading this: Please don’t fall into the trap of blaming/ judging the parent. The story may be completely different from another person’s point of view.
The need for approval – the need to be loved – is immensely common for most people. Those of you who have followed my program have learned that the first step to rapid learning as well as peak performance is to give yourself permission to “fail”.
Once you do, you can let go of judgment and instead become AWARE. Now we can go to a fearless state of discovery and rapidly improve body and mind. Now we can become real winners. Winners aren’t afraid of losing.
I was thinking of getting singing lessons to help with my voice my confidence and my shyness , but I thought I’d get your opinion to weather I should as you have a lot of experience? Do you think it's something that can be fixed or is it just that I can’t sing?
There is no such thing as can or can’t sing, just as there is no such thing as can or can’t play tennis. Some play for recreational reasons, some like to compete. One person may practice 3 hours a day and another might play once every other month. Both can enjoy it immensely. I believe singing and developing the ability to sing with greater freedom can be an incredibly empowering activity that transforms us beyond making pretty sounds. If you want to sing to experience a greater freedom to your body and mind and experience the true joy of music and free expression, then yes, I highly recommend it.