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?


Sneezing / Yawning while Singing

I got onto this topic in a conversation with one of my vocal pupils – what happens if you suddenly have to sneeze, or yawn, while you are performing on stage! Sometimes you just can’t help it, sneezes, and often yawns, are unexpected bodily functions that we don’t really have any control over.

I had a quick think, I can honestly say, that I don’t think I have ever done either of these things while performing on stage. HOWEVER I know for a fact that I have done both of these things while practising. My pupil Rizlene had a think, and she came to the same conclusion as me.

So, we were wondering if this was the same for every singer. Does the adrenaline and everything that you get when on stage just overcome things like sneezing and yawning, or have you ever sneezed or yawned while singing on stage?

Please tick the relevant boxes in the poll below – I’m a curious soul, and want to know!

Where to spend money when self employed

As a self employed singer, I am a totally self contained act, having my own equipment, and managing my own bookings, however I wanted to do a quick blog post today about when you should actually be spending money.

As I am self employed (all be it part-time at the moment) I often find that I am saying to myself, no, don’t pay someone to do that – you can do it yourself. The reason for this is very simple – you have good months, and bad months, and so sometimes, you aren’t always sure if you are going to have enough money for basic things.

Because of this, I have always done everything myself before and at the gig – including setting up, doing my levels and playing / pausing my backing tracks, along with the admin side of things too. As I have recently set up a performing arts school, started teaching singing lessons privately and organise a charity event each year, I started feeling that doing everything for a performance was too much on my own, and so I spoke to a good friend of mine to see if he might be interested in “tech-ing” for me.

He has now helped me at a number of performances, and I have to say that he is a God-send. I don’t have to worry about the different levels of the backing tracks (which used to mean I’d have to discreetly change the levels myself while singing), and the gaps between the different tracks are all dealt with too. He also sets up the PA system, and packs it down, so I don’t have to lift a finger! Overall, I am less worried about everything at the performances he has been at, and therefore have been able to focus much more on the performance, and not about how I was going to reach the PA to pause the backing before the next song started!

So, my advice to you today, is if you are self employed, and there are some things that either stress you out, mean you don’t look quite as professional as you are, or you just simply don’t like doing – don’t complain about it, budget into your prices to pay someone else to do it!

“Belly Breathing”

I read today that Adele is learning to “belly breathe” to help her overcome stage fright.

My initial reaction to this was, I will admit, of great surprise, as from the description in the news article, this is what I teach my pupils from day one! Just in case I was mistaken, I did a bit of research, however my finds have shown me that I wasn’t mistaken.

Belly breathing is defined on Wikipedia as “Diaphragmatic breathingabdominal breathingbelly breathing or deep breathing is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing.”

The reasons I give to my pupils for breathing like this, is that it gives you more breath to work with for each line you sing, as well as making it easier to release your breath and breathe in straight away at the end of a line in a song, however it is interesting to see that famous stars use it as a calming mechanism!

Find out more about singing lessons from me here.

Why Testimonials are so Important

Since I have been acting in films, and singing at events, I have become more and more aware of the importance of people’s opinions.

What people think and say about you matters – are you professional at what you do, do you go above and beyond the call of duty, are you easy to work with – once someone has seen that you can do what they are looking for, these will be the things that are the deciding factor as to if they hire you or not.

As an actress on a film set for a student film maker, I started to recognise what made a good director, camera person, sound team etc. I started writing down the things that I felt made these people great to work with, and after a while, I wrote these things up into proper testimonials for certain people I had worked with whom I felt were really fantastic.

By writing these testimonials for them, I felt that I was giving them that extra something to add to their portfolio – recognition from an actress who had worked with them, that what they do is good. I really hope that those testimonials I gave them, have helped when they have applied for other jobs.

From the other side of the fence, receiving testimonials is truly amazing too. I feel so proud when I get a lovely comment from someone who’s wedding or event I sung at, or who’s movie I acted in. It reminds me to keep striving to be better than I am already, and those comments will also help other people see the other side to me.

My website is full of information about what I do, and what I have achieved – you can find pretty much all the facts and figures you want about me online, but what really counts, especially in the entertainment business, is other people’s opinions.

So next time you find a great supplier for something you do – whatever that may be – and you think, yes, I would recommend this person/company to my friends, consider sending the supplier a quick email with a couple of lines to say thank you, and explain why you feel they did such a great job. You will feel great, they will feel great, and so will the next person who is looking for someone who does what they do.