Songwriters - you spend the bulk of your time creating beautiful melodies, chords and lyrics, but once your tune is 'in the can', how much time do you spend actually sharing your songs?
I started out performing as a singer, then as I began to do a lot of vocal session work for songwriters I worked up the courage to ask them to write music for my lyrics. So because singing was my main 'instrument', I had a positive attitude about singing my own songs. But over time, in coaching other songwriters I have found that one of the main fears that holds songwriters back is singing their own songs! If this applies to you, then you definitely need to put more attention on gaining confidence in your voice! Here are just a few reasons why you should take a few vocal classes or coaching sessions in order to take the fear and loathing out of singing your own music:
Who Better To Share Your Song?
Whether you wrote music, lyrics, or both, your song came to you through direct inspiration, (or a vivid imagination!). You felt the feelings that underlie both music and lyrics, and you are the best one to sing a song that came from your own heart, soul, and brain! You can give it meaning like no one else can! You can feel it because it was channeled through you, firsthand. There is no intermediary - you are the original recipient of this inspired tune! Present it from the heart, and it won't matter if you sound like a duck - your emotion, when true, will touch your listener's heart!
You are a unique Brand! Start thinking that way! Your songs are unique, your voice is unique, and the combination should be one-of-a-kind distinguishable so that somebody could hear you on the radio and know immediately that it was you. I once ran into a friend in L.A. who had just come back from France. 'I heard your new tune on the radio over there!', he said. Wow, that's how identifiable you want your voice to be - so that even a world away, out of context - someone hears your voice and knows that it's you. Don't ever copy another singer - develop your own Brand and it will serve you well.
If you don't sing your own songs, you have to find someone else to sing them for you. This usually requires not only money, but finding just the right voice; someone who is easy to work with; and someone who can interpret your song just the way you want it. These are usually somewhat limiting factors. It might be fine to use someone else when you record your song, but then what? Are you going to hire someone every time there's an Open Mic or gig? It's time to push the 'easy' button! Think of how many more opportunities you'd have to share your music if you just tuned up the guitar or loaded your keyboard up and went to a gig! You could present your song at the drop of a hat without having to give somebody a CD or music file that they will hopefully listen to 'later'. Being able to sing your own songs gives you the freedom to share your music more easily, directly, and authentically. Don't limit yourself by having to rely on others. You can do this!
But What If I Can't Sing?
Thinking that you can't sing is all in your head! That's my true belief. Everybody can sing, and everybody can cultivate the skills to have a pleasing voice. You've got to start changing your mind about how you sound! Begin with getting rid of your limited beliefs about your voice. To do this, I'd suggest taking a few vocal lessons to give you the basic skills you need to get your confidence up. Make sure you study with someone who is attuned to a singer's personality and can work at the level of 'mind' so that you are positively reinforcing the good habits that make you feel great about your progress! Believe me, this investment in yourself will pay off big dividends as your confidence, as well as your voice, grows, and you begin getting excited about sharing your 'new' voice!
Again, this is about being authentic, not perfect. Some of the best singers I've ever heard weren't technically great, but they were such compelling storytellers that you were mesmerized by the emotion they put in their songs! You don't have to be perfect, just be yourself and tell your story. Get out of your head and into your heart, and that will take you further than anything else.
On your journey towards loving your own voice, don't forget to exercise it! It's really important to vocalize daily in order to build your vocal power; get your voice in the right placement; and reinforce proper singing skills. In my book From Shower To Stage....7 Easy Steps for Singing Like A Pro! I break down my Lawrence Vocal System into the following:
Breath, A Singer's Energy
Conscious Breathing, the engine that powers the energy
Placement, the resonance chamber that amplifies the energy
Open Throat, the portal that directs and colors the energy
Organs of Speech, the articulators that form the sound
The Legato Line, the link that creates an unimpeded flow of sound
Alchemy, the Etheric process that transforms sound into emotion
Boom, boom, boom - easy, simple concepts that anyone can start employing right away. By following these steps you will begin to get out of the way and let your free-flowing, natural voice come out without strain or constriction. Soon, you will be so excited about your glorious voice you'll find every opportunity you can to share your voice and music with joy and enthusiasm. Now, doesn't that sound great? Think of how proud you'll be to get up and play your song - and actually sing it yourself! You - the songwriter. You, the singer/songwriter!
You're a creative person. Part of being creative means that you are open, fearless, and eager to share your beautiful soul through music and song. When we were kids we loved to sing, dance, beat on pots and pans - just for the fun of it. We can all do that again, it just takes deciding to do it. You write songs that you want the world to hear. Why not let the world hear you singing them? I urge all of you to take a deep breath and plunge into your next adventure......becoming a songwriter who is a fearless singer!