ACDA Voices United

If you're reading this we probably met at the Voices United conference in Virginia.

I'll be presenting a session on Aural Literacy on Friday, you can learn more about it by watching my session from 2012 Massachusetts Allstate

If you didn't catch my session, I'll have the video posted here shortly, along with a PDF of the handouts (over 20 pages of content) and a video companion to the handout in case you don't like to read.  You can get those goodies by heading over to my  Patreon Page and checking out the content stream.

Please feel free to reach out at TopherKeene@gmail.com if you'd like to connect, I'm always up for a quick chat on Skype, and I'd love to hear about what's lighting your heart on fire.

A New Lifestyle For Creators

I am so excited to be launching this project. 

For years I have dreamed of devoting my life to creativity, passion, and human potential. I've worked with young people for most of my adult life and I've seen the power and inspiration that lives inside each and every child.

Every child is a genius.

Every child is an artist.

And every adult is just a big kid.

Through years of study and mastery in singing, I've found that the people who are most stuck and unhappy in their lives are the ones who have shut the door to their creative potential. The ones who look at painters, dancers, singers, speakers, writers, and other artists and say "I wish I could do that".

You can do that.

Over the last decade I have spoken, taught, and performed at hundreds of schools, colleges, churches, conferences, and community events and I'm here to tell you that anyone, ANYONE, can learn to sing. It's not just singing, I fully believe everyone is capable of expressing themselves in all art forms, but I'm still working on taking poetry and photography and dance and painting classes to prove I walk the walk.

As for singing, I've seen 4 year olds sing their hearts out until an adult told them they weren't good enough.

I've seen 70 year olds tell me about when they were in school and someone told them to "just mouth the words".

I've seen my grandmother in tears singing next to my mother in an audience of over 1000 while I stood on stage leading the song.

I know that the arts, and music, and especially singing can help open up parts of ourselves we thought were closed to the world.

I want to help you - and everyone I can - to open to the beauty the arts have to offer.

And the world has changed just enough in the last decade to make it possible.

 

Through this blog, short ebooks, full-length books, podcasts, videos, and live events, I'm embarking on a journey of delivering as much art into the world as possible. With my voice and my words and my heart and my soul I will give all I can give in hopes of making a difference in your life. The look on a student's (or an adult's) face when they say "You changed me, my life will never be the same" is worth more than all the material wealth in the world.

But what about that?

It's nice to talk a big game about living a creative lifestyle and contributing art to the world, but how do you pay the bills?

I've done full-time work and part-time work, I've work in and out of the public school system, I work one-on-one with a highly select group of loyal clients, but just recently something has happened that has allowed me to take the leap.

You can learn more at http://patreon.com/TopherKeene but here's the gist:

You know Kickstarter?

This is Kickstarter on steroids.

Patreon allows people who love artists to support their work, just like the Patrons of days past.

I watch every Pentatonix video

I read Zach Weinersmith's comics every day

I now have a way to contribute to them and allow them to continue making their art.

With just a few dollars a month, I become a Patron, a supporter, a believer in their art.

And now, I'm building a tribe.

You can join me at http://patreon.com/TopherKeene and become a Patron too, and as more of us gather, some amazing things can start to happen. When we reach certain milestones, time becomes divorced from income and the freedom of pure creation is released. No longer does a project need to worry about what will sell and what won't, instead an artist can make their art and share it with the world without barriers. Patrons get some exclusive content and more access, including monthly Google Hangouts over video, but everyone in the world gets the art. The blog posts, the book chapters, the podcasts, the videos, the live events all go out into the world for free.

I'm so excited to launch this next stage.

Join me?

Make Crappy Art

 

 

I recently came across a forum post of a young artist asking for help freeing themselves from the perfectionism and fear preventing them from putting their art into the world.

Here's the best advice I've got, I hope it may be helpful when you face the dark terror of producing art.

I've worked with many artists, especially in their late teens early 20s, who are TERRIFIED of going out into the world without something perfect. They listen to the best artists out there and compare themselves to that highest 1% of history while their own work is still developing.

First, watch this, the most important 2:00 of your day:

http://vimeo.com/24715531

Now watch it every day before you start your art making

Then, I have an assignment for you, but only if you're ready to be a real artist.

You have one problem.

It isn't a lack of perfection.

A lack of skill.

A lack of ability.

It is a lack of FAILURES.

You haven't failed enough to be good yet.

You may have failed a lot, but go out and make them big and public.

Your assignment?

100 Crappy Pieces of Art.

Songs, pages, blogposts, whatever.

You MUST produce BAD art.

You might get lucky, fail once or twice, and produce something kinda good.

You might not.

But you'll learn to overcome your fear of shipping and putting real art into the world.

Good luck, PM me anytime, and go make art!

Clearing The Cobwebs

This post is a preview from my upcoming book:S.I.N.G. A 4-Step Process For Finding Your Voice

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This is your wake-up call.

You need to make a decision right now. You’ve come this far. You’ve committed to getting this deep into the program. You’ve done more than most people ever will. You’d be amazed how many millions of books are bought each year as trophies to sit on a shelf, never to be opened.

You stand at a crossroads. When you start the next chapter, you’ll be singing every day. It won’t be a lot at the start, just a few minutes here and there, but you may feel very uncomfortable for a while. You are starting the journey to literally rewiring your brain in a number of ways.

First there is a part of your self-image that references your ability to sing. We’ve already talked about how you probably consider yourself a “non-singer” or just someone who “can’t sing very well” or “doesn’t sing”.

Exercise: Take out a piece of paper - a journal, a napkin, something! - and answer the following questions: “Am I a singer? Can I sing? Do I sing?”

Be completely honest, it’s okay to write “I’m not a singer, I can’t sing, I don’t sing.” You may feel some or all of those things right now. The following chapters will allow you the chance to retrain the part of your brain that says those things and open up some new options.

Now look at your answers and reflect: “Says who?”

Who is that voice that tells you singing just isn’t for you? Is it you? Is it a parent? A sibling? An old teacher? A childhood friend? Who told you you can never sing, you should never sing?

Once you’ve decided who says you can’t sing (even if it’s you!) there’s another question to ask: “What qualifications do they have?”

I’ve worked with thousands of singers for over a decade, including dozens who were what many would call “tone deaf”. I myself was a terrible singer all the way through high school, and if you heard me in those days you’d ask why someone would record a bunch of puppies being stepped on. I’ve worked with many vocal coaches and read countless books, studies, articles, and dissertations on the voice and singing. I’ve studied the CD and DVD singing programs and taken all I can from them. I have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in my musical education. I’ve led singing with four year olds and ninety four year olds. I’ve stood in front of crowds of over a thousand people folding their arms and looking at me with that “I can’t sing” face, and I’ve won them over and had them singing together in glorious harmony.

I don’t say this to brag, (okay, maybe a little) but to ask you if I’m more or less qualified to judge your singing potential than the person who decided you can’t sing.

Ask yourself what (if anything) they knew about the human voice. Are they really qualified as an expert to judge whether or not you can gain this skill with years of study and practice? Are they psychic?

Without even hearing you once, I can tell you without doubt that you can learn to sing. You are the result of millions of years of human evolution, and your brain, body, ear, and voice are absolutely incredible devices capable of more than you ever imagined. There’s a 90% chance you are a better singer now than I was in middle school, and in a few short years I learned to sing quite well. If you’re in the 10%, I guarantee I’ve had a private student worse off than you are. I’ve had students take years to learn to match pitch. But they learned.

More importantly, I learned from them. After working with each “non-singer” who came to me, the next one learned a little quicker. You, my friend, are benefitting from the struggles of these “tone deaf” strugglers who took a leap of faith and asked for help. What took them years and months will take you weeks and days because you will have a clearer path.

Thank the voice in your head for its honest opinion, and let it know that you asked someone a little more qualified, and he said it’s worth a shot.

Can you sing, do you sing, are you a singer? The answers may take a long time to change, but there is another question you can control the answer to.

This is the last question to answer before you turn the page and commit to S.I.N.G.

Exercise: Write your answer, make sure to date and sign it: “Will I sing?”

When you find the strength to write “I will sing”, you are ready to read on.

I am proud of you, let’s learn.