Voice and Performance Coach
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CNIB Singing Contest
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SINGING CONTESTS - PLAY WITH THE SAND
It is always good for people to push themselves away from their desks a little earlier, shake off the responsibilities in their cubicles and work places, to head out and enjoy the fun singing brings.
For someone with a song in their heart, that often means having an adventure such as singing contests held at community events.
This is the time of year when I hear from people asking what the secret is to winning singing contests. We all hear about people with amazing voices who try out for things but barely make it through the first round. What’s up with that? Why do people who seem to have been given an extra dash of gifting often end up flat (no pun intended)? There are probably a gazillion tips I could give you but here are three of my favourites.
Tip #1 - Showcase the Real You: Pick a song that is right for you in the right key for you. Some people think selecting a song means picking something complicated. It does not. Most people would not know the difference between a complicated or easy song if it jumped up and bit them on the nose. The only thing a person knows is how you make them feel when you sing it. If you send shivers down someone’s spine singing an easy song but can only deliver a predictable performance on a complicated song or something you think will dazzle the judges, then by all means, sing the easy song. Judges know when a song “feels” right. That feeling will shine through you and fill the hearts of everyone around you and will likely score you those extra points you were hoping to get.
TIP #2 - Feedback & Focus: Often song contests run over a course of weeks. That gives you the chance to sing a few times and get feedback from the judges to help prepare you for the final round. If a judge tells you they would like to hear you sing something upbeat, or a specific genre, etc., do it. Often people get direction and instead of doing what is suggested to them, they decide that working on a styling, or finding the perfect outfit with matching shoes will wow the judges. It probably will not. Do not allow yourself to get distracted from what you need to deliver to get what you want. Right or wrong, the judges are ultimately the people who will be making the decision to move you to the next round or send you to the rib tent to drown your sorrows in bbq sauce and home fries. Assume they are giving you feedback that is in your best interest. You had the guts to sign up, the talent to get you on stage, and something special that nobody else can share with the crowd other than you. Congratulations, because you have already won! If, on top of that, someone notices something different you did not know about yourself and is kind enough to share their personal thoughts with you, bonus!
Winning and Losing: I came across an interesting Forbes article on winners and loser. It is a business article, not a voice article, but I think it is pretty good read. Click to Link to Article
Tip #3 – Take Your Sand Outside the Sandbox: Do you remember when you were a kid at the park? All the kids played in the sandbox until they had enough of what they could do with the sand. Well everybody except one kid. There was always one kid, who instead of playing inside the sandbox, took his bucket and played outside the sandbox. This kid did the same things everybody else did like fill up the bucket and made a castle except that one kid did not just sit in a pile of sand making sand castles. That kid used rocks, twigs, and other things he found around him. He would not only do what the others kids were doing, but he would also spread out using a much bigger play area with anything he could find that sparked interest in the moment. I want you to keep that kid in mind when you sing. Yes, you need to know the basics such as how to fill your bucket and how to complete the sandcastle. For singing that would be breath, tone production, delivery, and a handful of other sizzling basics. But more important, they are the things we stumble across in our voice when we play outside the sandbox. Sometimes the unique things that belong to us lay still because we are too busy trying to fit into a format that is not best for us. Listen, if everyone was meant to be in the same sandbox making the same sand castle, parks would make much bigger sandboxes, but they don’t! They make it just big enough to practice our sand scooping and learning from the other kids. Then it is time to get out of the sandbox and experiment on our own.
Here is the thing, nobody gets anything because they are gifted. Many gifted singers are clueless about how to use their voice and know even less about how to create art with it. Now on the other hand, a less gifted singer who is willing to go beyond knowing only basic skills (which anyone can learn if they do things specific to their own voice by the way) to sing authentically from their soul combined with artistry, they will undoubtedly win over everyone’s heart and go home pleased with their performance, prize or not.
I work my voice properly using the “best practices”. Obviously! But when it is time for me to sing, I think to myself “Let Your Freak Flag Fly Girl”. Sure I do my prep but I also know when it is time to stop playing in the sandbox like everybody else and just be myself.
So, pick something that is right for you, stay focused on what will get you closer to what you want, and let your freak flag fly.
This clip reminds me that creativity and talent grows the more it is used, in the most unexpected ways. Maybe it will help remind you too. SoulPancake: Click to Link to SoulPancake
Until next time, keep on singing.
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