Clearing The Cobwebs

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


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.

The Power of "Sleeping On It"

"Let me sleep on it"

It's the bane of salesmen everywhere, because they realize it is a thinly veiled replacement for "I don't want your services but I don't want to make you feel bad by saying no"

Let's look at it in a new context though.

Brain research at major universities shows that we tend to retain what we study in the half hour before we go to sleep.

This is because the brain will fixate and work on anything we put before it in those moments before slumber.

What do most people do with these valuable learning moments?

They fret about the day they just had and what Susie said and what Bill did and why Johnny reacted that way.  And they fret about what will happen tomorrow.

So in this rich active brain time called sleep, their brains are wracking and wrecking themselves trying to come up with ways to explain or justify or rationalize these situations, and they wake up just as stressed as when they slept.

The amazing thing is, the brain doesn't just retain and review what we feed it before bed, it works on the problems and creates new solutions, if we give it the tools it needs.

This is amazing news.

Comedians often sleep with a pad of paper because they know some of the funniest jokes can come in a stroke of inspiration in the middle of the night.

Successful inventors, business men, writers do the same.

What could your brain accomplish if you gave it something constructive to "sleep on" rather than it's normal diet of gossip and stress and other people's problems?

How about reading something to expand your mind, and leaving your brain to bask in the glory of literature, or ponder the great questions of philosophy, or seek a deeper understanding of human psychology?

How about isolating a creative task you'd like to accomplish in your life and fixating on it before bed each night, a concrete goal, writing a novel, losing 100 pounds, running a marathon, recording an album, landing a leading role?

If you work on something 1 hour a day, in a month you have 30 hours of work.

If your brain works on it every night as you sleep, in a month you have 240 hours of work.

That's 10 FULL DAYS a month of work on ANYTHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH.  Don't flush it down the drain!

Activate the power of "sleeping on it" and you could find your progress accelerated 100 fold!

Assignment: Pick a concrete goal or a solvable issue in your life and fixate on it before bed tonight, focusing on getting out of the way of the solution.  Keep a pad of paper and a pen nearby, and write down anything that comes to you in the night.  Thank your brain in the morning.

What are you going to sleep on tonight?  Share in the comments.