Updated: Mar 16
Last week I began this series of ‘Secrets to Joyful Singing’ where I share some of the more prominent stories & lessons that have transformed my voice over the years. These ‘secrets’ are less about technical singing & more about internal behaviours, beliefs, & revelations that changed not only the way we sound but widen the realms of what can be expressed through voice.
If you missed last week I highly recommend you check it out here in Part 1. It lays out key foundations for joyful singing & I promise these ‘secrets’ are a LOT of fun. The stories in Part 1 are all from before I ever started singing professionally up right until a very short, very strange, Canadian Idol stint.
This week I want to dig a litter deeper into the subtleties of developing voice ~ those lessons that I learned in & around the stage. Some are performative, some spiritual, & these lessons continue to nurture my own voice & my work with clients. These secrets have changed not only my sound but have deeply impacted my understanding of self & communication in all forms. Whether you rarely sing or spend your life on the stage I hope these secrets will help you discover layers of your voice & your being as well!
Say Yes to (Acceptable) Stress
After Canadian Idol & some time singing at open mics I received my first opportunity for a regular paid gig! My old reached out & offered me a regular gig playing jazz at his restaurant. Now, here’s the catch, I had no band, no professional experience singing jazz, & only three weeks to figure all that out. Of course, I said Yes!
The next three weeks were a firestorm. I found a great jazz guitarist & sax play for my band & we learned & rehearsed roughly 30 songs. Fortunately, these guys were pros & picked it up easy. I on the other hand, was on a steeeeeep learning curve.
When performance day came I was legitimately frozen with nerves. My family came to support me & I couldn’t even remember my sister-in-laws name. I was so unbelievably nervous. To be honest, I don’t really remember the actual gig but I'm grateful I did it. That gig lead into so much growth for me as a vocalist & professional singer. That jazz trio went on to play at restaurants around the city for several years. Through repetition & exposure I learned more about vocal technique than any lessons could have taught me.
Stories like this, where I have gone far out of my comfort zone, define much of the growth I've had in my voice & career. Even when things have gone poorly I’ve come to see that the ‘bad’ or ‘embarrassing’ performance/ interaction/ tour actually gave me greater resilience & comfort later on.
Bring it Home
We often hear how stress is bad for us but not all stress is negative. Short term stress can be incredibly helpful. It motivates us, keeps us focused, and boosts our immune system. Just think of a time you had to meet a crazy deadline & how much you accomplished because of it.
Of course, playing a gig in front of a bunch of people might not be in your style ~ but if you want to build courage & resilience in your voice intentional stressful scenarios can help. Take it to your edge but not beyond. Maybe it's singing at an open mic, hitting karaoke, going to a song circle, or beginning voice coaching. This little stress boost will build your resilience to take on bigger scary/ exciting voice opportunities in the future.
The jazz gig was a catalyst. I learned hard & fast about performing, getting over loud & embarrassing mistakes, & how to deal with cruel & judgemental feedback
One night during my first set there was a couple who sat about 2 meters away. As I sang the man spoke loudly about how terrible I was & how the restaurant should really hire a professional. For the entire 50 minute he made loud & harsh comments about everything I sang. It took everything in me to stay on that stage. The gig was still fresh & I felt vulnerable & exposed. As soon as our set was done I went straight to the bathroom & locked myself in a stall.