It’s an often rough road to success as a singer, performer, artist, musician, composure, manager, vocal coach – in short – the road to all things related to music is not always perfectly measured, phrased, or harmonious. You need survival tools in order to arrive or thrive in the pursuit of your dreams.
Something I discovered as a kid fumbling to find my way past the creeks and pastures of my rural Virginia roots to the promise of dreams to set sail and gardens to grow is that the positive and creative must be engaged on a daily basis in order to survive.
Hanging onto the positive and creative was a daunting task for this unpopular overweight awkward kid with a weird, goofy name that sounded like a cow crying for its mother. But fortunately, that commitment to the positively creative has given me a heart for helping others rise above the dark and dreary shadows that often creep in to crush or deny our dreams.
Nix The Negative Nasties
BMA vocal coach Deborah “Zuke” Smith cited having to overcome defeatist thoughts and negative self-talk as one of the most common challenges she faces in working with her students.
“It’s that listening to the little voice in the head that says, you can’t do this,” Zuke said. “But, I must give special thanks to my student, Dan Toth, for coming up with the phrase, you control your voice, your voice doesn’t control you. So, stop listening to imaginary voices, folks!”
No Jive Just Jam With Jack Plotnick
Zuke suggested that we check out the website of actor Jack Plotnick. The site was actually recommended to Zuke by Seth Rudetsky, the Broadway host of Sirius Satellite Radio, with whom she recently had a Master Class. She said there was a lot there at Jack’s site to explore, and she wasn’t kidding.
Jack’s site is a safe haven and restorative oasis for artists that need encouragement, inspiration, engagement, education, and a sense of belonging to something good and greater that comes when you’re called to be an artist.
Live The Affirmative
When you go to his site at jackplotnick.com, click on: New Thoughts For Actors. You will then find five treasure troves to prompt positive creative endeavor that can be adapted for singers, performers, composers, songwriters…anyone that needs to put a helpful, hopeful spin on rising up, shining brightly, and moving forward with a powerful, positive purpose.
These five topics are: The Power of Thought, Taking Care of Yourself, Secrets of Success, Approaching Your Art, and The Performance. Please visit his site and be encouraged. Let him know how much his site means to your creative spirit and artistic commitment to development.
Freed Without Need
Jack shares a number of positive affirmations he uses to gain focus and stay the course whether it’s an audition, rehearsal, warm up, warm down, or simply another day to dance through. One of his favorites for auditioning is: I release and destroy my need to get this job.
Think about the pressure you put yourself under because of a mindset of neediness or desperation. That kind of do-or-I’ll-die thinking only invites stress and confusion. It will most likely drive you to distraction and can shift your focus from the task at hand.
It’s like a slap in the face of your creative self. It tears up the gift rather than simply allowing it to open so that it can be shared as you give something away for others to play with and take to heart.
No Stress To Impress
Another affirmation Jack uses for an audition is: I am going to approach this scene as an improv.
In other words, he is discarding the need to “act” or “impress” or “perform,” and inviting his muse or gift or creative spirit to simply be in the moment. Trust that the training and technique are well-rehearsed and in place.
Think about your most gratifying performances that were well-received. They came because your focus was on connecting with your audience as a story teller. In the case of each of those successful endeavors, you simply set the tone and told a story as you delivered the message of each song. When you stay present in the moment, you strip away pretense. It keeps you fresh, spontaneous, and real.
The Stride Of The Ride
Another affirmation Jack uses that has countless applications for each of us goes as follows: I release and destroy my attachment to results. I am here to enjoy the journey.
There is a tendency to get hung up on things real or imagined such as stumbling blocks, threats, disappointments, expectations and so forth. When you put setbacks, stuggles, triumphs, trials, tests, failures, and plateaus in perspective, they lose their power to destroy or distract. In fact, they sometimes become points of turning, learning, revealing, or healing. Remember to take things in stride and enjoy the ride.
Be True To You
For Zuke, she encourages her students to live by the mantra – to thine own self be true.
“I remind them that we are in a safe teaching space, and there is no judgment on their sound,” she said. “I am listening for release, freedom, passion…I want to learn who that unique individual is through their voice. I don’t like to say, you sound like so and so because I believe we all have the potential for a distinctive and beautiful sound.”
Visit Jack’s site; and then, create a list of your own personal affirmations. You can define subgroups for special situations such as auditions, rehearsals, road trips, and so. You can call on teachers and others that have had a positive impact on your life to see if they have one to share. Make it uniquely personal and powerful. These are for you only!
For those of you that are in a band, choir, or performance group of some sort, work together to create some group affirmations that each of you individually can take to heart. You don’t need to share these affirmations out loud as a group out, but you do need to share them collectively in the heart, mind, and spirit.
The same process of creating group affirmations applies to those of you who work with writers and composers. Create affirmations to share as positive creative partners in songwriting.
More Resources To Come
We will continue to find resources to keep you positive and focused in your pursuit of singing success. Be grateful and engage kindness on a daily basis. You don’t have to be a doormat, but I encourage you to be an open doorway for others to enter when they need encouragement, inspiration and affirmation.
Deborah â€œZukeâ€ Smith
Zuke is a renowned music copyist, piano teacher, songwriter, vocal coach, and self-proclaimed â€œEast coast chick,â€Â who credits Brett Manningâ€™s Singing Success with not only saving her life but forever changing it for the very best it can be. In 2000 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and braved the brutal battery of tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, post chemo drug regimen and physical therapy. She believes that Brett Manningâ€™s programs and method are absolutely essential to bringing out the full potential in any voice. You can find her on Facebook listed as Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, U.S.A.