"You can't do it! You'll look stupid. Don't even bother trying. That song you just wrote is boring, who do you think you are?" If you know this voice, this page is for you.
One of the biggest challenges many singers and artists face is a lack of confidence, and it often manifests itself as a negativity I like to call, 'the evil twin.' Even the most seasoned of performers has to face this subconcious demon. Do you know that voice?
He/she becomes this permanent downer in the back of your mind, a series of stumbling blocks that get higher and harder to climb until there's a seemingly unsurmountable wall of negativity. That lack of confidence can keep you from performing, showing up for lessons and can eventually lead to shutting down or avoiding something that is a potential source of great pride and a career you love.
There was a moment about 10 years ago that life just got too much. I had severe anxiety. Round every corner, my mind was telling me something terrible about my life. What felt like a thousand negative comments, putting up walls and leaving me in a heap on my couch. My diapragm had locked up and I couldn't sing. I had trouble connecting with my environment. Any positive act had become a trial.Then I read this amazing piece of guidance by Linda Johnson on Evil Twins. It was a revelation that I had this side of me so bend on destroying my life. Once I personalised my evil twin I became more mindful of the obstacles my own mind was putting up. I eradicated all thoughts that did not serve me. I fought back against that voice, regained my own and it changed my life. Because we are human, this is a daily battle.
Build in your failsafes.
One of the things most professional singers do is replace the words 'I can't' with 'I can', 'no' with 'yes.' I don't mean run around saying yes to everyone else but become mindful of what you are thinking when you are singing. Many times and often I've seen clients decide that they have reached their vocal limits on a scale. They give up early and cannot push against the note. The core refuses to send enough power to the diaphragm and throats tighten. Half an hour later when practicing their chosen piece they are singing 5 notes up from that position. When I point this out they are so surprised! While they are practising scales their evil twin is having a field day. When it comes to our true ability our brains and bodies are tricking us all the time. We can master our minds to trick the body or master the body to trick the mind, in fact it's all one.
Dismiss Excuses and Make Achievable Goals
Practise is the best way to gain confidence but it can also be an excellent source of procrastination. When it comes to practice I love the analogy about the bucket and the drippy tap. Every drop will land in the bucket whether you turn the tap on and let it flow in with 2 hours practice a day or if you spend 10 mins running scales a few times a week. It may not be a perfect scale. Regardless each drip has landed in that bucket and you never know when that bucket will be full. We are winning each time we take a step towards our destination without putting ourselves down for trying. Be kind to yourself. Everything you do in a positive direction is a victory over your negativity.
You've heard the phrase, "knowledge is power", but that's not entirely true. One of the most obvious ways to gain that knowledge is through feedback. If the feedback you gain contains misinformation, then by applying that knowledge you can worsen your situation. Everyone has an agenda and people can be thoughtless at times. Make sure the critique you get is constructive. Don't put yourself out there with people you know will be negative. Surround yourself with supportive people. You know them? The people that make you feel good! The people who can be clear, concise and tactful. Honesty doesn't have to be painful. Absorbing everyone else's issues blindly lends power to your evil twin. Discard what you cannot use. For myself in a classroom I act as a sharp pair of ears, a guide and your biggest cheerleader.
Your Evil Twin Can Be Your Best Friend
Ok so you've tamed that nasty beast and put him or her in their respective boxes while you are practising. You have a regular dicipline and you don't listen to his/her nonsense anymore. Life is getting more dynamic and you are gaining confidence in your voice so much so that you are ready to get out there and show off your skills so far! NOW we need our evil twin. The wisdom you can gain from the perfection your evil twin demands can be invaluable for preperformance practise or post writing/recording editing, so at this point they can come back in, in a boundaried capacity. Much like that friend that hurt you but still loves you the evil twin needs boundaries before they can come and assist you so allow them so much leeway. Discard what you cannot use.
From Practice To Performance To Perfection
Confidence grows from work on your mind and your body but real confidence won't begin to grow without actively engaging some kind of public performance, even if its singing in the church choir or getting together with friends on karaoke nights. I took a chance by recording my work for Soundcloud to get feedback at first and now I have a thriving song writing business. Practise, practise, practise get out there and shine!
Confidence comes with the doing.
If you are procrastinating booking lessons out of fear of my feedback I would like to assure you, I have heard it all. There is very little in the human voice that shocks me and nothing that cannot be polished and repaired. I will treat your voice with respect always. If you feel confidence is lacking and you would like to build up your skills in a safe environment what are you waiting for? Get in touch!