The Power Of A Smile
When you smile, you release muscles. When your face muscles are relaxed, you sing more effortless. Next time you're having a hard time hitting a note put a little smirk on your face and see what happens. Ok, you might be saying..."I'm singing a super sad, emotional song, me smiling is going to kill the vibe". I'm totally with you. Try the yawning sensation instead.
When you yawn, the back of your throat feels wide open and your jaw drops (I bet you're yawning right now, lol) It's the little things that will make a HUGE difference.
Give it a try. Good luck! xoxo
GOALS , PRIORITIES & OBSTACLES
Now that we are almost at the end of February, most people who've set New Years solutions start slacking off, the excitement, drive and enthusiasm from January 1st is wearing off and we usually settle back into our old routine, putting things off and making excuses. And before we know it, another year has gone by.
One of the biggest excuses I hear regarding voice lessons is money or time.
Make a commitment and TRUST that the universe will support you. When we come from a place of fear or lack, we tend to attract more of it. Make a budget and set priorities. If the numbers don't add up, maybe get a side job, do a garage sale or ask family members for support. Find a away!
What are you willing to do to make your life happen? Take advantage of the discount packages. Lessons make you better, keep you motivated, help you stay on track and measure your progress. You don't need to train for years, a little bit can go a long way.
What is more important to you? Your daily Starbucks, dining out every night, going to clubs every weekend, online shopping or getting your career going? As a musician, we spend a lot of money on our gear, rehearsal space, musicians, recordings....the list goes on. We singers are lucky, we don't need as much gear as the rest of the band, nor does our stuff break as easily and often (drums, guitar strings).
We are all busy these days but let us not confuse busy with productive. Make a daily to do list and schedule "you" time in. If it's on your to do list, you won't freak out and say you have no time. Maybe you'll have to get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. Or use your lunch break to sing a little? MAKE TIME! Even if it's just 15 minutes.
PS: When people contact me trying to get the lowest price possible, I cringe. I do my best to work with people. But let me remind you that this is what I do for a living. I don't have a 9-5, steady income job. So imagine your boss asking you to take a huge cut in pay because he can't afford you. Do you feel that he values your time and expertise or do you get a sense that he's just trying to take advantage of you? Would you work for minimum wage while offering years of expertise?
Change your view. Instead of seeing this as a luxury, a special treat, see this as an Investment in yourself, in your personal growth and career. Because that's what it is. And I think we both agree, you deserve it!
June 05th, 2014
Been pretty busy with a ton of new students, some are complete beginners, others are pretty advanced. I have to say, I'm extremely grateful for my students. There's no greater pleasure than knowing you are inspiring and motivating someone else, helping them in their career. Seeing the spark their eyes, which comes right back to you. My students are my greatest teachers!
The Joy Of Improv
We all know kids are full of joy, fearless and open. Pure BLISS.
Just because you are an adult doesn't mean you have to be so serious at all times. What stops us during the creative process is THINKING, ANALYZING and being AFRAID of looking stupid.
When you improvise you allow yourself to let go, let the inner child come out to play, you'll be amazed what comes out of you once you let go. It may be silly or maybe even brilliant, just let the words and melodies me out of you. Simple melodies, we consider dumb are usually the best ones.
Take 10 minutes. Close your eyes, start a beat pr melodie in your head and just start making up a song. Record it, no one ever has to hear it, it's just for you to connect, plug in, let go and explore what's inside. It truly can be magical and you will be filled with joy, laughter, maybe even tears...whatever emotion wants to emerge, let it out.
See it as time at the playground or a mental cleansing. Now stop planning and analyzing and start singing, just let it flow! Enjoy!
Are You Ready For 2014?
2013 has gone by so quickly I can't believe it. It's been fun to see many of my students transform. I learn so much from my students and get so inspired. Teaching is such a gift. I also had the opportunity to hit the road for a little bit and collaborate with some very talented people, getting some cool new music placements. I'm very grateful being able to do what I do for a living.
One thing I can't stress enough, "NETWORK"! Networking is the key in this business, building relationships, surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Instead of asking "What can you do for me?" ask "What can I do for you?" Truly care about others, be interested in their life and work, of course you might not "click" with everyone but you will for sure make new friends. It takes years and character to build trust. People like to work with people they like and trust.
It's about helping eachother, being real and stepping out of our comfort zone. And also being a bit fearless...If there's something you truly want, go after it. Get out there and collaborate, make a cold call. Have fun! Explore and risk a little more than usual. Learn a new instrument, try out a new genre. Think BIG! Get inspired!
If you haven't set any goals for 2014 yet, I recommend to put networking on top of your list! You've got a month to think about it. Lettep it up!
What gets most singers in trouble is THINKING. When we perform, of course we can hear ourselves but.... we should not start listening. Confusing? Let me explain! You are about to go onstage, you invited a bunch of industry people, you're getting nervous. Lights go on, you step on that stage and start to look around while singing, BAM! Spotted one! Now you're becoming a little insecure, a bit more nervous, wondering if they like your music, your show and so on....you're watching their reaction...and guess what? You've just taken yourself out of the game! You've become an audience member, meaning you're watching yourself, analyzing, criticizing.
And why is that and how can you stop that?
Know who you are and why you're doing this. You might lack CONFIDENCE or have a bit of an identity crisis ! Maybe you want the fame more than the actual enjoyment of playing and performing? When you step on that stage you have to be confident and trust yourself. With proper training and lot's of practice you'll gain confidence.
You can never EVER worry what people think or say about you while you're performing. When you step on that stage, you have to switch it on and dive into your own world, engage the crowd, pull 'em in and let them forget about their reality for the next 45 min. You can only do that if you're 100% in your game.
FEAR will stop you. Face it and it will disappear. Shift your focus! Here are a few techniques you might want to do before the show!
#1 Meditate! BREATHE! Take 5 minutes and calm the mind. I know it's extremely hard when in a club, go outside, lock yourself in the bathroom or stay in the van/bus. Try doing it after or before your vocal warm up. (I recommend after)
#2 Vocal warm up. A cold voice never sounds good, plus, you could hurt your voice if you don't warm it up, especially when you're on the road. Find a quite place and spend the next 15 -25 minutes warming up. It will help you get in the mood, boost your confidence and make you sound great from the start!
#3 Stretch! yes, you read this correctly! A flexible body is a flexible mind.
#4 Visualize! Close your eyes for a few minutes and visualize the show, everyone having a great time, you being on top of your game, sounding great, your voice is open, your band is rocking, people coming up, asking for autographs after the show. It will calm you while at the same time charge you with positive energy. Imagine yourself playing your dream show.
#5 Improvise! Things happen. Technical issues, someone messes up, you forgot your lyric. Go with the flow! Have fun and don't take everything so serious! It's showbuiz, put on a great show and have a Blast!
What Makes A Great Performer?
Have you ever watched a band and found yourself thinking..."man, they are so boring to watch" The singer is invisible, the players are just doing "their thing", not really engaging with the crowd. Although the audience might really dig the band, the band just becomes background music, people start talking, going to the bar, not really paying attention and BAM!...you lost 'em. So what do you do??? Let's assume your music doesn't suck! ;)
PUT ON A SHOW!!!! Engage your fans! Introduce yourself, tell them to clap, sing along, say hello after the show, grab your CD. (And you can do that in a very creative/theatrical way) If you have a message, keep it short and too the point. Cover a hot track that everyone loves, that will warm 'em up and grab their attention.
The truth is, talent is just a small portion of success. It's a combination of talent, personality, chemistry and a unique identity. We are all attracted to things we connect with. Think of Madonna, Lady GaGa, Adele, Katie Perry, Nicki Manaj, The Foo Fighters or Marilyn Manson. They all have something unique to offer, something people can identify with, ppl either love or hate them but they have a brand and a clear message of who they are and what they do. Many of us struggle with an identity crisis when we first start out, we don't know who we are yet, what to do on stage. If you don't know who you are just yet, most important part is to get out there and get your feet wet. Find out who you really are. Playing shows is the only way to get experience. While taking lessons is great, it's important to apply it by "DOING" it!!! You'll also find out what songs work really well live and what songs aren't. You can learn a lot from your audience. When on stage, get into character, get in touch with your alter ego, embrace it. We all have one.
You're the boss!!!! There's no wrong doing, it's your stage; your show. There are no rules or limitations other than the ones you make. Go a little crazy, over the top!...TRY different things. Explore and have fun on stage. Be the person you would want to see up there. Think of some of your idols, what do they have that you wish you had? Whatever that is, you'll find that you have some of the same qualities, exaggerate that onstage. Be a Rockstar !
IMAGE!!!! Wear something unique that fits your style of music and personality. What may look extreme off stage looks normal on stage. Be confident. Confidence is super attractive!
The Power Of EFFORTLESS
When we think of singing, we often think it's "complicated," "technical" and "hard." Many singers look up when singing high notes and get throaty sounding when reaching for low notes. Why is that? They think! If you must think, think the opposite! When you reach for high notes, think down, and when you reach for low notes think high! But remember how I stated "if you must think"??? We don't want to think about "reaching" for notes when we're singing.
When you put emotion and meaning into what you are actually singing, you won't be thinking about the technical stuff. That's when the magic begins and you realize that singing is and always should be as effortless as speaking! So go ahead, try it intentionally to think the opposite, than after you feel how much easier it is, forget about it and just live the song! Let your heart and soul sing!
Obviously there's more to it than just this little article and I go more into detail about it during my lessons but let it sink in and give it a go!
Jacqueline van Bierk is a Singer/Songwriter/DJ/Film/TV Composer. She has fronted her electro pop metal band Otto's Daughter, done several US tours, written and produced many albums, writes music for film/tv and teaches Vocal Performance. Credits include the Oprah Winfrey show, Dr. Oz, MTV, VH1, Spike TV, CW Network