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Friday, July 28, 2017

Things to Consider to Stay Motivated As a Singer

I started singing in the church in grade school and have been a part of every choir that I was able to immerse myself into for most of my life.


I grew up in a Roman Catholic church and I can’t remember ever not loving to hear the pipe organ accompany us as we sang the classical hymns that would get the congregation to join in with us in unity to lift up the holy name of Jesus.  Church was always my thing and back then, there was not one Sunday of service that I would miss, because I loved being in the number.

I may have been young and innocent back then but still, I was just waiting in the wings to fly high into the skyways of singing. Who knew I would have had so many dramatic encounters since then as I sojourned through life!

A JOURNEY

It has been a journey indeed. From messing up on stage, to not being prepared for things I wanted to accomplish as a singer, to getting rejections and also, being accepted, doing well through some performances and having what needed to be on point for many live musical engagements. I have done off-Broadway plays cast as part of chorus lines, directed choirs, won a few contests here and there, played extra roles in movies, lead and been part of bands, produced a radio show and also sung abroad.

The road has had its turbulence but I can honestly say that there have been more smooth cruise control times than traffic and potholes in my story. With that in mind, I have ideas to share with all of you interested in getting yourself out there into the world and doing something with your talent and also for those seeking motivation.

DISCLAIMER

Okay, I know what you are thinking and you might actually be right. No, I am not the best singer in the world and have not had enough formal training to qualify as a pedagogue in this area of expertise. 

However, I do have enough cuts and bruises from experience to be able to relay to you how I got the scars that brought me to where I am today because the road has not been simple and it is very easy to sway from your musical endeavors because of someone or something that did not go the way you expected. Experience is the pedagogy that I speak of. Hopefully these points to consider will stimulate your mind and give you some fuel to keep moving on the road ahead. 

HERE ARE SOME OF THEM:

1. At times we may feel discouraged because of what someone said or how they treated you on the bandstand. It happens especially because the band stage involves the meshing of different ages and  personalities. Consider your source of discouragement and if it is even worth basing your quality of talent on their attitude. 

Who are they? Were they sober? Are they people to take seriously? Are you being open-minded?  What do you believe about yourself? 

Being a musician is not easy, so you must be strong-willed and you must also stay prayed up. Otherwise, you will always have a bruised ego and might give up. 

2. Everyone is a critic. Everyone has an opinion. Some people will love what you have to offer. Some people will not like what you have to offer at all. Some will support everything you do. Some won't support anything you do and then talk about what you are doing and how you are doing it. This includes family. Some people will go out of their way to compliment you. Some people will move out of your way to criticize you in another person's ears. Some people will do everything in their power to help you. Some won't even pat you on the back to wish you well. But, the question is, do you believe in what you are doing? Where do you stand on the topic of faith? Remember, we are our own biggest critic. You are better than you think.

3. One performance is not your entire lifeline. We all have good nights. And sometimes we have bad nights. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone may know you actually made one, so don’t tell them. Remember, Ella Fitzgerald forgot her words and started singing those nonsense words that everyone tries so hard to imitate through scatting nowadays. 


You never know what will happen if you just stay calm and not say, sorry guys, I messed up the song. Or don’t be like the younger Me and decide to run off the stage crying without finishing the song. They may not even know you messed it up. But if they do,  what can you do? Good to be honest with yourself but not good to punish yourself for it. Better to continually find ways to encourage yourself.  

Shit happens! So what? And what better place to intentionally mess up than in performance mode at an open mic. You may never know what you can do if you never try anything new. If you need to pull out your phone to get the lyrics, go and karaoke because the words are there for you. Holding your phone to read lyrics looks tacky on a stage with a band. If you know the lyrics already, open mic with a live band. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And if you mess up in an open mic, It's open mic so just try it again; that is, if you decide not to quit because you messed up. You can always regain yourself next time if you try it again.

4. Just because you came with you’re a game to an audition and did not get a call back does not mean that your talent is not on point. So, don’t waste too many tears on it and don’t beat yourself up over it either. 

The next 3-and-a-half-hour line that you stand on, or overnight stay you spend on the bleachers in a stadium in the rain to audition, might just have your name written on it without you even knowing. So don't get discouraged from auditioning. Keep doing it. 

5. Not everyone knows the Mahalia Jackson or Peebo Bryson version of a popular song that you believe every musician should know. And not every singer can sing a blues song in the standard F key. Every voice is different. So, at least know your key so the musicians can meet your voice where it is at, appropriately; or carry a chart so this way, there is no mistaking what you are seeking as a performer in that moment. 

This actually is part of the homework. You practice the song. Also know your keys. Add the song and key to the notepad in your phone. You can’t go wrong. That way, you always have that information with you.




6. Learn some hand signals so you can lead the band. If an accompanist really gets into the song while playing, he or she might not see your face gestures telling them to stop. Cue them for where you want to go during the song. There are actual hand signals for Verse, chorus, Top of the song, bridge, vamp, end. Know what they are and use them accordingly. Better to lead them than to get mad at them while on the stage and curse them out in front of everybody because they messed you up. 

7. Keep your voice hydrated and make sure you breathe and keep those coin-sized internal instruments healthy. Remember that the vocal cords are the only instrument that God made by hand. Keep them healthy. Lubricate with water while on the stage. No, I did not say lubricate with a watered down alcoholic drink. It might dry your voice out. You might get drunk. Do you want to perform heavily under the influence? Make Sure to nurture them. 

8. Practice makes better, not perfect. The more you practice, the better you will get than what you were able to output yesterday. 

If you are like me, then you have a favorite singer or artist. I used to spend half my childhood evenings and even some as an adult, singing for countless hours, all the songs of Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Amel Larrieux, Tamia, Brandy, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kim Barrell, Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Carmen McRae and Mariah Carey to the four corners of my walls. 

Don’t limit your genre and artist engagement. Every genre has something to offer and there are more artists than the ones currently on the air waves that might benefit your capabilities as an artist if you embrace their craft as well.




Add songs of different artists and genres to your repertoire. Write your own Shakespearean Sonnet AKA Song and add that to your repertoire as well. Practice songs with a karaoke track. Practice your scales by a keyboard and if you do not have one, download a keyboard app to your phone or tablet. Use YouTube tutorials. Exercise your talent and allow it to flourish. But also rest. Even the best athlete who utilizes their muscles on a daily basis needs to rest. Practice, rest, perform, rest, practice . . .

9. Finally, smile! If you love it enough to practice it and work hard toward becoming better at what you do, smile while you are engaging your audience. Don’t think about all the dilemmas in your life while trying to burst out that tune. Sing and focus on the melody. You can also hear a smile through a song as it is being sung in the tone and texture. Smile and sing. Be focused in the song and sing it. Don’t wander off to la la land thinking about everything else in the world. Sing that song and smile. 


Be centered in the song and let the words flow through your arched-up lips. Let love breathe through that very thing you love to do if you are doing it because you truly love to. Be yourself. Be confident. And be beautiful and smile through your song. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing and relating to the beauty of a bright face delivering a melody? A smile definitely makes a difference.

Those are my thoughts on singing and a few taken from personal experiences as I mentioned my running off the stage crying once. Thank God I grew from that and continued on. Hope my ideas were helpful and I also hope that they motivated you in some way. I appreciate you sharing your time with me to read my blog post. God Bless! 

WHO AM I?

My name is Stephanie Jeannot. I was born and raised in New York City. I have Haitian roots and I am a lover of black coffee because it keeps me doing what I do.

I am a singer and writer. I write more than I sing. I write poetry, songs and music. Recently for the first time ever, I charted out a song before laying out the musical parts into my Sonar Music Suite. I am a lover of music and I love to sing. You can find out more about me by visiting my website at http://www.jnotemusic.com

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14 comments:

  1. A very special post and I think that all those points you are making can be used in every dream or goal we would like to pursue. I do think you have a lovely voice. Keep up the good work.

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  2. That is so true that one performance is not your entire lifeline. Its so difficult to view it that way at the moment as all you can think is about that bad night or bad moment. But great way to think of it!

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    1. That is something to think about and very true.

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  3. Beautiful post, very inspiring and informative to budding singers

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  4. Very inspiring post! I have always been envious of people who can sing. It is such a beautiful gift!

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  5. Anything worth doing takes effort and commitment. I'm glad you shared what keeps you motivated with doing your music.

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  6. You are so correct, being a musician or any type of artist is so hard. There's so much rejection and disappointment. But at the end of the day we do it because we love it!

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