Whether you're searching for new material, seeking a new look or image for yourself or your band, or playing with a new idea or fresh concept for a tour or gigging out, take yourself on a mini-retreat and explore a change of scenery.
Whether you head to park or drive for several hours and check into a motel, the change of scenery gets you out of your routine and away from your comfort zone. It preps your brain and your senses to be open to new perspectives and possibilities as you explore a variety of themes, settings, music genres, and even story lines.
For example let's say you're more comfortable with your mix, your range has significantly expanded, and you now want to find new songs to sing that will reflect the comfort, confidence and creative growth you’ve experienced.
Play With Key Changes
To conduct a search for new material, begin by listing the key changes that have occurred. Ask yourself the following questions. In what ways specifically is my voice stronger? What songs am I currently singing that I want to keep as an option for my song sets when gigging out? What changes would I like to make with these songs? What specific songs that I know of am I interested in adding to my sets? This will give you base of familiarity to work with as you adjust and stretch based on the changes you’re experiencing with your vocal instrument.
Explore What’s New
Another point to consider is the uncharted or unfamiliar territory that you'd like to explore. One creative way to approach this is to think in terms of the subject matter for the songs in terms of stories, themes, genres, and settings that intrigue you. You can cite examples of well-known songs that explore some of these areas and use those as points of reference.
Frame First, Then Focus
You want to first identify the general playing space or framework. You will then factor in your interpretive skills and technique to highlight range, tempo, rhythm and other key areas of strength, growth, comfort, and confidence. But start with subject matter, story, theme, and genre first.
Showcase Not Showoff
By rooting your choices in these things first you will place the emphasis on your abilities as a communicator, storyteller and performing artist. This helps you avoid putting together a showcase of new tricks or over-singing because of new found vocal powers. Instead you strike a balance between artistry and technique by letting the material be your primary focus. Simply put, you showcase the new material while the material showcases your more fully developed vocal gifts.
Both Sides Now + Then
Let's say the expanded range has made you want to explore material that lets you be more playful, but you also want opportunities to be much more emotional and dramatic in the songs you sing. The overall theme for the material might be comedy and tragedy or shadows and light or falling in and out of love. So you would look for songs to include in your set that show a light, comic, fun side of falling in love. But you would also look for tragic, dark, even angry pieces about breaking up or sad songs of unrequited love that counter the light and airy side of falling for someone.
You might even think in terms of an overall setting to connect your song set for a specific venue, event, tour, or series of gigs on the road. You might need a patriotic song set for the Fourth of July or another national holiday. You might want to do songs that reflect a specific season or time of the year.
Maybe your wants to put together a song set that reflects specific social issues. Maybe your song set is spiritual. Look for ways to tie-together the bigger picture of your song set when appropriate. It takes your audience on a journey to a place of some familiarity that helps them make a personal connection, instead of being random and eclectic. Again, you want to focus on what the material you’re communicating not on what a great power singer you’re becoming.
Write What's Right
If you are also a songwriter, you can write new pieces to reflect the changes in your voice. If you’re not a songwriter you can hook up with writers that can create new material based on the themes, settings, stories, subjects and genres that you find most appealing. You can share your ideas and even be a more active part of that creative process. You might even stumble upon songwriting skills you did not know you had. Perhaps those skills have been awakened by the changes in your voice. It happens!
A Natural Showcase
The bottom line is: as you become more confident and comfortable as a performer while also improving your technique and strengthening your artistry, you want the material you choose to naturally showcase your gift.
The SSTV Advantage
Use the forums here at SSTV to share your ideas on the relationship between becoming a stronger singer and finding stronger material. Talk about how Brett Manning's methods and the products at SSTV have impacted your vocal ability. Note any changes in taste or song selection that come as you strengthen your singing. Encourage each other to explore new ideas, fresh material, and play with image and style to find what fits and works best for themselves and for you.
Use the tools, programs, and forums available through SSTV to bend and stretch your talent until it is fully expressed in a shape, sound, color, and texture that is true to who you are from the inside out. Explore all options and opportunities available here at SSTV to help you achieve your full potential in the pursuit of your singing success.