Keep challenging yourself

Recently I have found myself slipping in my singing practice. This is mainly due to the fact that a lot of the songs I get asked to do at weddings and events, are the same, and so I’ve already done all the practice for them! I also find myself re-using these songs when I perform at charity events and such – where I actually have freedom to sing what I want to!

Today I started working on a set list for a wedding I will be singing at in a few weeks, which has a totally new set of songs for me – I’ve not done any of them before, although I have wanted to learn a couple of them for quite a while.

One of these songs is particularly complex, due to the backing track not giving you any clue as to where to come in, or even what the notes are! (In fact, at various points in the song it is playing a “clashing” note to the one I have to sing) I’ve been working on this song for the past hour, and have almost cracked it – but it’s made me stop and think, why have I not learnt this song before? It’s a beautiful, emotional song from a musical, and I remember that I used to mime along to the CD when I was younger, pretending I could hit the high notes.

I think, when we do something we love as a job, we sometimes start to loose sight of why we love it so much. So as from today, I will set myself the challenge of learning one new, complex song that I really want to learn a month. (I would say once a week, but I think the other key to challenging yourself, is to know your limits!)

It’s odd how the smallest thing can wake you up to something you hadn’t really realised before. Have you ever had this sort of realisation? Have you become complacent in your work?

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Using music as a team building exercise

A little while ago I recieved a phone call from a lady who opened with “I’ve got a bit of an odd request for you” – I was intrigued!

She said that she had seen on my website that I teach singing lessons, as well as running a performing arts school, so thought I might be up for a challenge. She was looking for someone to teach a group of IT workers a song as a team building exercise. It would be a group of about 30 people, and as a whole they didn’t have any singing experience – although there were a few people within the group who did.

I said yes of course – what a brilliant opportunity to do something new!

The song that was chosen was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – in three part harmony – not one of the easiest songs to learn, but I was determined to make it work. We decided on me being in my “vintage war time” outfit, and I also took two union flags along with me, to add to the atmosphere.

On the day I set up, and stood at the front of this room with my keyboard and PA system, in full vintage war time attire, as the group I would be teaching gradually wandered in. I got a good number of very strange looks as they entered!

The event itself was brilliant. The group were hesitant to begin with, but after they started getting into it they were even asking me to go over bits that they couldn’t quite get. As I only had an hour and a half to teach them, we didn’t get through the whole song, but we did get a couple of solos from some reluctant members of the group who were volunteered by their work collegues! The final piece sounded really good, and I was impressed with how quickly they had picked up quite a tricky song.

I asked a few of the after how they felt it worked as a team building exercise, and the response I got back was unanimous – yes it had worked – job well done!

I thouraghly enjoyed the experience, and would love to teach singing as a team building exercise again, so if you or your boss are looking for something slightly different to do as a team building exercise, get in touch with me!