To say that we live in challenging time would be understating the obvious. I know people that have been cut from jobs they’ve held for 20 years or more, and I know very bright and gifted 20 year-olds that will be awarded their undergraduate degrees this spring only to face a market is grim to discouraging at best for many and will be for some time.
Strange as it may seem, the entertainment industry tends to flourish in times of economic woe and financial duress. But, when you think about it, it makes sense. In tough times we need to check out, escape, vent, dream, scream, rant, and rave. So for those who sing, write, play, or do some combination of the three, the outlook is not entirely dim or discouraging.
But, make no mistake about it, the road is still rough, especially when you’re supporting the pursuit of your dream by struggling to hang onto or even find a day job to pay the bills in between gigs or cuts.
Sound Advice That Works
There is no magic bullet, quick fix, or big break that can be promised with a clear conscience. But there is sound advice and some words of encouragement that can be offered to help you to stay the course as you weather life’s storms. Even if our economy happened to be flourishing, you would still need to be able to move forward with focus, purpose, and confidence.
One thing to consider is what people want and need to hear and experience in such times. First of all, they want to be encouraged. They’re looking for tools that will help them to be able to just hang in there. They also want to be whisked away from their worries and woes by having their spirits lifted, their fancies tickled, and their hearts and humor heightened. Yet at the same time they also want to have their hurts and hungers validated.
Tough Times = Artistic Opportunity
For the songwriter these needs are rich, fertile soil from which to grow pieces that make the listener hope in the face of despair, have faith in spite of discouragement, laugh until it hurts, and hurt until there are hints of healing. As a singer you can deliver these songs with just the right medicinal measure to help people get up, get out, and keep on keeping on as they strive to survive, revive, and thrive.
Maybe it’s a bit of a Pollyanna posture or a pretentious proposal, but I really do think that singers, singer-songwriters, musicians, and performers have an inborn ability to soothe, heal, inspire, encourage, and of course, entertain. In fact, the very nature of creativity, when positively and responsibly engaged, makes things better, clearer, or even, more bearable.
So, here’s something for each of you to do that will help you identify what’s in your heart that will help you and others push through times of great challenge, potential threats to security, and profound change.
Plates Full Of Grateful
I call this exercise, serving plates full of grateful. Of course sharing this right now has absolutely nothing to do with the Thanksgiving holiday – yeah, right. But I promise that the exercise will serve to make you more aware of what you bring to the table that will nourish and encourage hope, heart, humor, honor, and humility in others.
Make a list of at ten things for which you are grateful. Generally speaking, one of two extremes will happen. It will start off with hundreds of things coming to mind or maybe a handful. Don’t edit yourself – well, not yet. Allow yourself to come up with however many strike you. If it’s more than ten, then cut it back to just ten. If it’s less than ten, keep thinking until you get to ten.
For those of you that are songwriters, your assignment is to one by one write a song for each item on your list. Yes, that’s ten songs. But, if you want to create a theme song that connects all ten, that’s cool, too. For musicians, the same approach applies. Compose ten pieces that are inspired by each item on your list. For singers, choose one song that represents or speaks to each item individually. So, that’s a set of ten songs that complete your plate full of grateful.
If you can’t think of a song for each, your goal is to start searching. In your search you may find a song that’s a better fit than what you had come up with for one of the ten items. Change it out. It’s your list.
Your Signature Set
Obviously, this is not an exercise you complete in one sitting. It could take months or even a couple of years. What this exercise will do is give you a foundation of gratitude to build on. You’ll actually have a concept album ready to go, a set ready for live performance, and a well of encouragement to share with your audience.
Life is tough right now for everybody in some way. By creating something positive that you genuinely connect with, you’ll have a tremendous resource for getting yourself through tough times and for helping others find relief, find hope, and find their way to better times.
I also encourage you to invest in Mastering Mix or Singing Success if you haven’t already. It will save you time, trouble, and money in the long run. Brett Manning’s programs really do serve to inspire and encourage the unique individual that develops and delivers their full vocal potential. As you grow in competence and confidence you will grow in gratitude until what you bring to the table are plates full of grateful stacked heaven-high!