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THE 7 KEYS

TO GREAT
SINGING

BY
JOHN FORD
$29.95
Ever dream about singing on stage?
In a recording studio?
Just for yourself?
This is the e-book version of John Ford's extraordinarily successful
and fun method of learning to sing. Among the world's premier singing
coaches, Ford's students have grossed over $100,000,000. Will his method
work for you? 9 out of 10 who use his method become good, often great
singers.

You'll discover how to:


• Sing with a passionate, strong, controllable voice
• Master The 7 Keys to Great Singing
• Develop your own unique style
• Become a confident and exciting stage performer
• Predict your singing potential with the 15-minute Vocal
Assessment
• Record your first demo tape
• Join or form your own band
• Earn money as a singer in 7 different ways
• Get a recording contract and record your first CD

YOUR INSTRUCTOR:
John Ford is founding director of the John Ford Voice Lab. For the
past 25 years, he and his staff have helped many people to sing better than
they ever dreamed possible, including many who thought they were
doomed to a mediocre voice.
Ford's students are working in local clubs and recording studios, and
have been featured on MTV, The Late Show with David Letterman, the
Arsenio Hall Show, as well as most pop radio stations throughout the
world.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
PART 1: SINGING BETTER THAN
YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE
Chapter 1 Singers Are Made, Not Born
Chapter 2 What it Takes
Chapter 3 The Top 10 Myths About Singing
Chapter 4 Why the Standard Approaches Fail

Chapter 5 A Better Way: 90% successful, easier,


less scary, faster and much less expensive than
the standard approaches

PART 2: THE 7 KEYS TO GREAT


SINGING
Chapter 7 Key 2: Keep Your Vocal Cords Together and
Maintain Total Control
Chapter 8 Key 3: Keep Your Larynx Neutral to Add
Richness and Depth to Your Voice
Chapter 6 Key 1: Use Warriors' Posture and Experience
Strength and Confidence
Chapter 9 Key 4: Use Your 3 Voices and Enjoy a Huge
Range
Chapter 10 Key 5: Use Singers' Ultra-Breathing to Release
Your Maximum Power
Chapter 11 Key 6: Drop Your Jaw and Create a Resonating
Cave
Chapter 12 Key 7: Add Vibrato and Enjoy Absolute Vocal
Freedom
PART 3: FROM EXERCISES TO SONGS
Chapter 13 Singing Songs Like a Pro
Chapter 14 Developing Your Own Unique Style
Chapter 15 Troubleshooting Guide
Chapter 16 How to Keep Singing 'til You're 95

PART 4: FROM UPTIGHT SINGER TO


BLOW-EM' AWAY PERFORMER
Chapter 17 The 7 Secrets of Great Performing
Chapter 18 How to Ensure That You're Even Better on Stage
Than at Home

PART 5: HOW TO GET PAID AS A


SINGER
Chapter 19 7 Ways You Can Earn Money as a Singer
Chapter 20 How to Record Your First CD
Chapter 21 Getting a Recording Contract

PART 6: INSPIRATIONAL STUFF!


Chapter 22 How to Actually Achieve Your Goals
Chapter 23 More Really Cool Success Stories
Final Thoughts
INTRODUCTION

Singing is fun! Singing feels good! That's why we do it. But most
people can't sing well without some help. That's where I come in. For the
past 25 years, my staff and I have helped many people like yourself become
good, often great singers. This book will help YOU become a good, maybe
even a great singer! One of my clients came to me unemployed, and went
on to earn millions as a singer.
When you learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing, you'll sing like never
before. I know this, because in my job as a singing coach, I see it happen
every week. People come to me unable to sing at all, and next thing I
know, they're giving me goosebumps!
Read this book, and do the exercises on the Vocal Workout CD, and
there's a 95% chance you will become a good or a great singer! That's all
there is to it. Read on and have fun! Get ready for one of the greatest
emotional experiences of your life!
PART 1
SINGING BETTER
THAN YOU EVER
THOUGHT
POSSIBLE
CHAPTER 1

SINGERS ARE MADE,


NOT BORN
Nobody just wakes up one day and sings like Christine Aguilera. It
took her many years to build that great voice. She was born with some
natural ability, but that ability had to be developed. She had to study and
practice just like you do. All the great singers I've taught had to work hard
to build their voices.

The secrets of the world's greatest pop singers


Over the past 25 years, I've analyzed what actually enables people to
sing well. Surprisingly, great singers--from Lady Ga Ga to Adam
Lambert--sing well NOT primarily because of better vocal cords, but
because they use 7 special skills. When they sing they do things with their
vocal cords and bodies that the untrained singers don't: they use The 7 Keys
to Great Singing.
What's exciting is that most people can learn to do what the pros do.
When you learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing, you will develop a
passionate, strong and controllable voice.

Can you learn to sing?


In my 25 years of teaching I've learned that 95% of the general
population can be trained to become excellent singers, if they learn The 7
Keys to Great Singing.

Success Stories
Now I'm going to tell you about some of my students, most of whom
started off not being able to sing at all. I think they will inspire you as
much as they have inspired me.

Ricci: From Hobbyist to Money-Earning Singer


Ricci arrived at her first lesson a reserved woman. She couldn't sing,
but wanted to. No professional aspirations, just for the fun of it!
After working with her for about a year, she began to sound great.
When I got a request for a wedding singer, I thought of Ricci. Even
though she initially told me she didn't want to work professionally, I called
her and told her about the job. Ricci decided to go for it. She auditioned
and was immediately hired.
After the wedding, she came to her lesson confident and satisfied.
She had had a great time and was well paid. Now she wanted more singing
jobs! She has since sung at more weddings, and has even begun singing
the National Anthem at ball games. She's having fun and getting paid for
doing what she loves!

Sylvia: "I've Never Seen My Husband So Happy"


Sylvia called me one morning and asked if I could teach her to sing
two songs at a professional level, in four months! (It normally takes at least
a year.) She was giving her husband a huge surprise party and wanted to
sing for him. She told me she'd never had any lessons and I got the
impression that she wasn't a good singer. It's hard for me to pass up a
challenge, so I told her "Yes."
When I heard her sing at her first lesson my heart sank. In the back
of my mind I had hoped she'd have some singing skills, but she had none.
She was a beginner who couldn't sing, at all.
I told her she'd have to pick easy songs. I couldn't teach her to sing
difficult songs in that short a time period. We doubled the number of
lessons I'd normally give a beginner, and I had her practice for two hours a
day. (Normally I have beginners practice for half an hour a day.)
After two months she was sounding okay on one song and pretty bad
on the second. But we were making progress and I continued to drill her
hard. At the end of the third month, she sounded good on one song and
okay on the second. I was relieved. I knew we'd make it.
At her last lesson, two days before her big performance, she sounded
good on both songs. I was happy.
Two weeks later I received a large gift package from her. With the
package was a letter in which she wrote:

John,
Sincere thanks!! I couldn't have and wouldn't have done it without
your coaching!
It was quite an experience!! I now know what it is like to have an
out of body experience!! My brain was completely shut down; sound came
out of my mouth and my body moved.
During the sound check, I reminded the sound man that the
microphone volume should be increased on "Diggin"... and during the
sound check it was...However...during the performance it was not. The
first few words that I sang were barely audible. There were four floor
monitors on stage, one close enough that I could kick. I found comfort in
that, thinking that I would be able to hear myself. And I probably would
have been able to, except for the noise from the audience.
The introduction was quite dramatic; actually it was a production.
The room was darkened, the music filled the room, and the three of us
found our way on stage. There was a big explosive sound, and a pyramid
spotlight shined on the first singer, another explosive sound with a pyramid
spotlight shining on me, and a third explosive sound followed by a pyramid
spotlight on my sister. In addition to this, I had a soft green fog, (or haze)
surround us on the stage, that blended in beautifully with our jade green
costumes.
While all of this lighting was happening, we were subconsciously
doing our choreographed routine. If you could imagine 150 people out of
their seats, cameras flashing, camcorders rolling, cheering, whistling,
clapping; I wasn't prepared for this. As a result, I couldn't hear myself over
the noise from the audience. I really missed being in your studio and
having the comfort of hearing myself through headphones. In retrospect,
I'm glad it happened the way it did. The audience was really receptive,
which made it very easy for me to give or express myself.
My husband was in a state of shock. I've never seen him so happy.
On "1-2-3", (the second song) I left the stage and sang directly in front of
him. It was quite an evening. When we got home that night he said, "I
didn't know you could sing. Did you take voice lessons? Of course I said
"no".
Sylvia's letter thrilled me. I was so proud of her. She worked hard
and reaped the rewards. Her next project is to sing at her fathers 75th
birthday party.

Christine: Well Paid for Singing Jingles


Christine really had a hard time at her lessons. She had a beautiful
and strong voice, but she was so afraid of criticism that she could not let it
out. She would get up on stage during lessons and start to sing and then
stop. "I just can't do it," she'd cry.
She kept coming to lessons and eventually got to where she could
sing for me. It was very hard for her, but she was stubborn and she
persisted. With time and practice, she became a very good singer full of
confidence and self-expression.
Christine recently sang on some TV and radio commercials and
earned $1,500 for about ten hours of work. I am sure it was great for her
self-esteem to hear herself on TV and the radio, and to get paid for her
singing. It was also exciting for me to hear her commercials, and to know
I helped her get to that point.

David: Country-Western Success


David arrived at his first lesson as a middle-aged man who couldn't
sing. His goal was to be a professional country-western singer. He came to
his lessons, worked hard, and within two years he was singing well and
writing good songs.
He then put together a country-western band and began gigging. For
about a year, I didn't hear from him. Then out of the blue, he showed up at
a nightclub where some of my students were performing. When I saw him
I was astounded. He looked ten years younger and had a spring in his step.
His new country band was gigging all over the area, and I'd never seen him
so happy. Before he left, he gave me a copy of his latest recording.
When I listened to his tape a few days later, I was blown away. He
sounded totally professional and his band was hot. No wonder they were
performing so much. I was really impressed with the progress he had
made, and very satisfied by the happiness that I saw on his face.

Mary: From Secretary to Recording Artist


Mary sat on the couch in my studio and told me she wanted to quit
her ten dollar an hour day job and become a professional singer. Her
husband had just abandoned her and her two-year-old son. I had her sing
for me and she was okay, but not great.
I worked with her for six months, helping her become an exciting
singer and performer. At that point I didn't think she was ready to look for
work as a singer, but she wanted to and began going to auditions. She was
hired by the first band she tried out for, but she didn't like them so she
immediately quit.
The second band she auditioned for also hired her, and she liked
these guys a lot. Within two weeks the band began touring the West Coast.
Next, they released a CD which began getting radio air play. I was blown
away! So was she! Mary had reached her goal and was very happy.
Mary's story is amazing because it all happened so fast. Rarely is a
student able to accomplish what she did in less than a year. Working with
her challenged my preconceptions about how long it should take for a
student to reach success.
Cindy: Quit Her Boring Day Job to Sing Professionally
Cindy called me during a transition in her life. She was 33, recently
divorced, and looking for a career that she could sink her teeth into. She
had been working as a secretary and hated it. There were two things in her
life that she truly loved: painting and singing.
She wanted to explore the possibility of a singing career. At her first
lesson, I discovered she had an average voice that needed a lot of work. The
only singing she had done was in high school chorus. Her voice was very
light and operatic, not at all conducive to singing popular songs.
Together we worked to develop her vocal strength, repertoire and
performance skills. After about nine months, she was ready to step out into
the real world. I sent her to some "open mics" so she could get some
experience in front of live audiences. She began to feel at home on stage.
She recorded her demo, put together a promo package, and was ready
to look for work. Then she balked. She didn’t think she was good enough.
She didn’t think she was ready. She began to feel that working as a
secretary wasn’t so bad after all. It took her about a month to resolve this
conflict, but once she did, nothing stood in her way.
The first agent she visited gave her a job at a local hotel nightclub,
where she earned enough to quit her boring day job. After that, another
agent got her a two month job at a luxury resort in Southern California.
She sent me a letter from that resort describing her days of basking in the
sun by the gorgeous pool, her nights of singing her heart out. She was in
heaven.
I recently went to see her at a club in San Francisco. When I saw the
singer on stage, I thought I had walked into the wrong club. I didn’t
recognize her. She looked like a real singer. She sounded like a real singer.
I remembered her as a shy, conservatively dressed student, not this hot
singer with the Tina Turner hair.
Why was Cindy successful? She didn’t have a spectacular voice. Her
looks were average. She hadn’t been singing since she was five (she started
at 33). Her friends and family told her she was foolish to start a singing
career at such a late age, that the music business had no stability, and that
she could never depend on it for an income. But she knew what she wanted
to do, whatever the odds, and she did it.

Linda: Grossed Over $50 Million With Her First CD


When Linda Perry, the lead singer for 4 Non Blondes came to her
first voice lesson, I had no idea she would become so successful. To me she
was just another starving musician with an okay voice. Little did I know
that two years later her first CD would sell over 5 million copies.
I remember turning on my TV one night and there she was on The
Late Show with David Letterman. She sang better than I had ever heard
her sing. It was really exciting for me to see her on this big show, doing so
well.
Linda impressed me because she was so committed. She had devoted
her entire being to her music. She had no other options. The passion you
hear in her voice is a result of her intense commitment.

How I became a singer


I started my musical career as a guitar player. When I joined my first
band, we didn't have a lead singer. I always thought the lead singer got the
most dates, so I volunteered, even though as a singer I didn't really know
what I was doing. We wrote a bunch of songs, and soon had our first
public performance at a large outdoor concert in Berkeley, California.
My first performance was frightening and exciting. I stood on the
edge of the stage, my knees shaking, shyly looking out at the huge
audience. I wanted to be there, but a big part of me wished I had never put
myself in this agonizing position.
My band and I began our first song. My rhythm was shaken by my
fear. We were loose, but we were loud! I barely remembered what chords
to play and felt like I could fall apart at any moment. Even though our first
song was only three minutes long, it seemed like it would never end. My
knees shook so hard I wondered if I would collapse. How would I make it
through our whole set?
We finished our first song and the audience of over a thousand went
wild. They shrieked, screamed and clapped. Their response surprised me.
I thought they had seen my shaky knees and would boo me off the stage,
but they loved us!
The second song was easier. I lifted my head and watched the
audience move to our music. I began to play guitar with power and
authority. I sang with passion. I was expressing! The audience was
responding! It was quite an experience.
We finished our last song and the audience was screaming louder than
ever. I was hooked. I wanted this feeling again.
The only problem was that I didn't really know how to sing very
well. The main reason I got the singing gig in my first band was that I was
willing to do it.
It then became my mission to improve myself as a singer. I began
taking voice lessons from various teachers. However, the lessons didn't
improve my singing at all. I was frustrated and disappointed, and thought
maybe the problem was that I really wasn't cut out to be a singer.
But I loved singing and continued to record and perform in different
bands. I quit my day job so I could devote my life to my music. At this
point I was singing for at least three hours a day, and my voice improved
because of the sheer number of hours I was devoting to singing. Also,
through trial and error, I had discovered some of The 7 Keys to Great
Singing.
Eventually I found a teacher who taught me more of The 7 Keys to
Great Singing, and my voice improved dramatically. I was in complete
command of my voice and loving it.
I sang in many bands, wrote a lot of songs, and received radio air
play. I've recorded in world class studios and worked with famous singers
and musicians. It's been a wild ride, and I wouldn't have missed it for
anything.

You really can learn to sing


In my teaching practice, I have seen many students succeed, and they
weren't always the ones who started out with great voices. They succeeded
because they loved singing, and were willing to put in the time to learn the
craft. You don't need to be born with a great voice in order to succeed as a
singer. All you need is an intense desire to sing, and the willingness to
work, struggle and learn.
Your success is largely up to you. If you work hard and hang in
there through the hard times, you have an excellent chance of success.
It won’t be easy. You'll have to practice, and you'll definitely face
periods of frustration and disappointment. People may tell you that you
can’t sing and are foolish for trying. But one thing is certain: if you love
singing with all your heart, and you have even an ounce of talent, your
persistence and hard work will pay off.
Decca Records told the Beatles that their records would never sell in
America. Bruce Springsteen’s early bands were rejected by New Jersey
nightclubs when they tried to get work. But fortunately these artists were
persistent. If they had given up, we would never have been able to enjoy
their music.
So remember, with desire and dedication, you can learn to sing!
CHAPTER 2

WHAT IT TAKES
In order for you to become a professional singer, there are two
requirements. Here's what they are:

1. Can you sing on key at least 70% of the time?


In case you don't know what singing on key actually is, I'll explain.
Let's say I play a "C" note on the piano. If you can sing the "C" note as I
am playing it, you are singing on key. If you sing any note besides the "C"
note, you are not singing on key.
Singing on key is very important because even the most musically
ignorant audience member will know when a singer is singing off key.
They might not be able to explain exactly what is wrong with the singer,
but they'll know something is!
Fortunately, singing on key comes naturally to most people. That's
why any group of people at a restaurant or party can sing Happy Birthday
with relatively no problem.
Most beginning singers sing on key fairly well, but not perfectly.
Being even slightly off key sounds awful, so you'll need to learn to sing on
key all the time. For now, if you can sing on key 70% of the time you're
in good shape.
Singing on key is a matter of getting your ear, your brain and your
vocal cords to work together. This just takes practice. Eventually you'll
sing on key without even thinking about it.

2. Do you have healthy vocal cords?


The other thing you need in order to sing well is healthy vocal cords.
If you can produce a loud and clear sound, your vocal cords are healthy and
will work for you when you are singing. Most people can pass this part of
The Vocal Assessment because most people have healthy vocal cords.
But about one out of a thousand people have vocal cords that have
been damaged by incorrect singing or speaking, and they cannot produce
this loud and clear tone. These people cannot be trained unless they heal
their vocal cords first. In most cases, this just means a good rest for the
vocal cords.
There are some people who have naturally raspy voices, who can still
learn to sing well. In fact, these singer's end up with very interesting
voices, as long as they can learn to to apply good technique.
I know most beginning singers worry about whether they will be able
to sing well or not. Don't worry! There is a 95% chance you can become a
professional level singer.
CHAPTER 3

THE TOP-10
MYTHS ABOUT SINGING

Okay, we've got the big myth out of the way: singers are made, not
born! Now you know that most people can learn to sing. But there are
other myths that could get in your way, so let's deal with them right now!

Myth #1: It will take many years for a total beginner to learn to sing.
The Truth: Most beginning singers who learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing
and practice on a daily basis are ready to perform in entry level nightclubs
within a year or two. Occasionally it will take a singer more than two years
to reach "nightclub level," but that's rare.

Myth #2: Singers have to be able to read music in order to succeed.


The Truth: Most nightclub singers and recording artists never need to read
music, so they don’t bother learning. They sing by ear, just like you do
when you sing "Jingle Bells" or "Happy Birthday." Paul McCartney never
learned to read or write music. He never found the need to. The only
singers who need to read music are opera singers, or in some cases, singers
who sing on TV and radio commercials.

Myth #3: If you can't sing high notes now, you just don't have the kind of
voice that could ever sing high notes.
The Truth: High notes are difficult, and most of us have to be trained to
sing them well. But, if you learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing, and practice
the Vocal Exercises, you have a 95% chance of being able to sing high
notes with the best of them.

Myth #4: If you're scared to perform in front of people now, you'll never
be able to be a confident performer.
The Truth: Your fear is normal. Most people who get up in front of an
audience are afraid. My first performances were so scary that my knees
shook. However, learning to perform is a skill that anyone can learn.
Every one of my students who wanted to learn to perform became an
excellent performer. Once you learn The 7 Keys to Great Performing, you'll
become a confident and charismatic performer.

Myth #5: If you drink milk or orange juice before singing, you won't be
able to sing well.
The Truth: Drinking milk or orange juice doesn't limit your singing
ability. When you learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing, you'll sing well no
matter what you eat or drink.

Myth #6: If you smoke cigarettes, you'll never become a great singer.
The Truth: There are many famous singers who smoke and it doesn't hurt
their singing at all. They may die young, but they sing just fine. So, stop
smoking for your health, not your singing.
Myth #7: Drinking warm tea before singing will help you sing better.
The Truth: If that was all you had to do to sing better you wouldn't need
to read this book. Unfortunately, drinking warm tea doesn't improve your
singing at all. It may make you feel better, which is a good thing, but it
won't help you sing better.

Myth #8: If you sing in a place where it's very cold, you won't be able to
sing that well.
The Truth: Maybe if it was 80 degrees below zero your singing would be
affected, but otherwise don't worry about it. Sing away!

Myth #9: If you didn't start taking voice lessons at age five, you have very
little chance of succeeding.
The Truth: I've had students well over 50 who began lessons with me, and
they did just fine. Remember, many successful singers are in their seventies
and still sing well. If you start at 50 or 60, so what?

Myth #10: Singing is genetic. If your parents weren't great singers, you
won't be either.
The Truth: Your singing potential isn't dependent on your parents ability.
It's dependent on your willingness to learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing,
and practice.

Those are the deadly myths that stop many people from ever trying
to sing. Now that we've killed those myths, they can't stop you. You can
learn to sing!
CHAPTER 4

WHY THE STANDARD


APPROACHES FAIL
When I was learning to sing, I tried most of the standard approaches.
I took college classes, private lessons, and tried to figure out how to sing on
my own. It was very frustrating for me because with all the classes and
lessons I was taking, my voice just wasn't improving. I thought the
problem was me; maybe I just wasn't a good enough singer.
But part of me knew that the problem wasn't me. I was singing in a
rock band, and my songs were getting played on the radio. I had achieved
some level of success so I couldn't be that bad. It wasn't until years later
that I discovered the real problem. My teachers were not teaching me the
same techniques the pros were using. In fact, most of them weren't
teaching me any techniques at all. They were using a hit or miss approach
that definitely missed.
When I began teaching voice, many of my students had tried the
standard approaches and still couldn't sing. Their experience was much like
mine.
Why the standard approaches don't work
The main reason that the standard approaches usually fail is that they
don't teach aspiring singers THE ACTUAL TECHNIQUES THAT
TODAY'S SUCCESSFUL SINGERS USE: The 7 Keys to Great Singing.
The standard approaches use outdated, old, and usually ineffective tools that
just don't work for modern singing.

What are the standard approaches?


There are basically four approaches people use in learning to sing. I
have seen or experienced the results of each of these, by using them myself,
and by working with students who have tried them. Let's look at each of
these approaches in detail.

Standard Approach #1: Finding a voice teacher and taking


private lessons.

Success rate: About 30%

This is a good way to learn to sing, if you can find a great voice
teacher. But finding a great voice teacher is almost impossible, unless you
live in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco. Also, great voice
teachers are expensive, charging up to $1000 per hour. Most people can't
afford to study with them.
When I was learning to sing, 75% of the teachers I studied with were
of no help to me whatsoever! Finally I did find some teachers who taught
me some of The 7 Keys to Great Singing. My singing improved while I
was studying with them.
Most of my students who have studied with other teachers have no
knowledge of ANY of The 7 Keys to Great Singing. Many of them have
studied for years and still can't sing a single song well. I believe their
teachers tried their best and probably meant well, but these teachers didn't
have knowledge of the techniques the pros were using, and therefore were
unable to help these students.
Most teachers use outdated, opera-based methods of teaching. How
much opera do you hear on the radio today? Not much! Today's successful
pop singers are using different techniques than opera singers, which is why
they sound different!
The main problem with this approach is that there's a scarcity of
great voice teachers. I know of four great teachers in the United States.
That's a drag, because it makes learning to sing very difficult.

Standard Approach #2: Trying to figure it out on your own.

Success rate: About 30%

It turns out that no training is MUCH better than mediocre or bad


training. Some of my students who have learned on their own figured out a
few of The 7 Keys to Great Singing, and became fantastic singers. Some
very famous singers developed great voices by figuring it out on their own.
However, some people who follow this path get into deep trouble.
They develop bad habits that really limit their singing ability.
Although this method works for some people, it's potentially
dangerous because it's possible to damage your voice. Learning on your
own often creates bad habits that can take months or years for a good
teacher to repair. I know this from working with students who have
developed these bad habits.

Standard Approach #3. Taking a singing class at a college.

Success rate: About 10%

I have rarely seen a student who learned to sing well at college. The
problem with college classes is that the teachers use outdated methods
which don't work for pop singing. You have a teacher teaching opera
technique to a bunch of students trying to sing pop. It's pretty weird and
not much gets accomplished.
I have never heard of a college trained singer going on to sell
millions of records. Never! College classes are ok for messing around, but
for people who really want to learn to sing, they're usually not that
effective.

Standard Approach #4. Joining a choir in high school, college,


or church.

Success rate: About 25%

This is perhaps the worst way to learn to sing. The main problem is
that in choirs, singers are rarely encouraged to really belt it out. The choir
singers I see are very quiet and timid in their singing. They're told by the
choir directors to be quiet and blend in. It's as if all the life was beaten out
of them.
Now, there is one exception. African American churches have
produced some incredible singers. In those churches, singers are
encouraged to express, which allows natural voices to develop.

Don't freak out, there's a better approach to learning to sing


With the dismal success rates of the common approaches, it's no
wonder that many singers become discouraged and quit. But don't lose
heart. There is an approach which has a 90% success rate. Read on!
CHAPTER 5

A BETTER WAY

There is a better way to learn to sing. It's simple and effective. Most
of the students who use this method become excellent singers.
This better way can be stated in one sentence: IF YOU WANT TO
SING WELL, DO WHAT THE GREATEST SINGERS IN THE WORLD
ARE DOING.
You're probably thinking, "Well if I could do what the greatest
singers in the world are doing, of course I'd sing well, but I can't just DO
what they are doing. If it was that easy I'd be singing well already."
You're right! You can't just DO what they are doing. You need to
learn to do what they are doing, gradually. You'll do this by learning and
experiencing The 7 Keys to Great Singing.
The reason professional singers sing so well is that they are using
these 7 Keys. By reading this book and connecting with a singing teacher,
who knows The 7 Keys to Great Singing, you'll sing better than you ever
dreamed possible!

Anecdote
I used to play golf with a guy who had been golfing for 20 years. I'd
been playing for just two years, and I beat him almost every time we
played. The reason I beat him was because I took dozens of lessons and
learned the right way to swing my clubs. I learned the same techniques the
greatest golfers in the world were using.
My friend never took a lesson. He just got up and hit the ball the
same way he had been hitting it for 20 years. Poorly! Then he'd act
surprised when his ball went into the forest instead of onto the green. He
had bad technique and he never improved.

Learning to do what the pro's are doing is the key


When you learn the techniques the pro's are using, and then practice,
your singing voice will improve dramatically. That's what this book is
about; teaching you correct technique with The 7 Keys to Great Singing,
and giving you powerful Vocal Exercises to practice.
I found that following The 7 Keys to Great Singing made me a better
singer than I ever imagined I could become. Before I discovered these
techniques, my singing ability was limited and I felt permanently stuck.
Now I have control of my voice. It does what I want, when I want.

How do you learn The 7 Keys to Great Singing?


First, read the next chapter to gain an understanding of The 7 Keys to
Great Singing. Next, you can begin applying these techniques to your
singing on your own, or even better, you can begin looking for a qualified
singing teacher. A good singing teacher will teach you how to incorporate
The 7 Keys to Great Singing into your singing AUTOMATICALLY!
That's the beauty of this system. It's almost impossible to fail.
You have in your hands a method THAT WORKS. If you've always
dreamed of singing well, now you can!

Learning on your own, or finding a good singing teacher.


You can learn most of The 7 Keys to Great Singing on your own. If
you can find a good singing teacher to help you, that is better. There are
some Keys that are difficult to learn without help.
Good coaches are expensive. They charge between $300-$1000 per
hour. But an amateur coach who charges $50 per hour and teaches you
incorrectly is really expensive, because you invest a couple of years
studying and never learn to sing.
I'd rather take two half-hour lessons per month with a great teacher
than four one-hour lessons with an ineffective teacher. I can learn more in
30 minutes with a great coach than I could in a year with an amateur one.
If you decide to look for a coach, ask each prospective coach the
following questions:

1. What are your students doing professionally?


If a coach’s students are working regularly in reputable clubs and
recording studios, you can be assured that his/her teaching methods are
effective. If, however, the students aren’t working, how good can the
teaching methods be? Would you attend a law school where none of the
graduates were able to find work as lawyers?

2. What styles of music can you teach?


If you are interested in singing pop music, it is important for your
coach to be teaching and singing pop music. If you want to sing opera,
study with an opera teacher, not a rock teacher.
I've had many students who studied opera even though they wanted
to become pop singers. By the time they got to me they sounded like opera
singers trying to sing pop. They sounded old fashioned and rather odd, and
it took some work to help them learn to sound like pop singers.

3. How long does it take your average student to begin performing


publicly?
If a coach is good, most of his or her students should be performing
within a year or two. If it takes longer than that, something is wrong.

4. What have you done professionally?


If a coach has performance experience in the field you are pursuing,
great! Even better is a coach who is still active as a singer. There is a lot to
learn from someone who has been where you want to go. If they haven't
worked professionally, stay away.
Ask to hear some of their recordings. If they don't have a demo or
CD of their own singing, they probably aren't experienced enough to be a
great coach.

5. Do you understand the techniques the great singers of the world are
using?
Be sure the coach is familiar with and can demonstrate most of The 7
Keys to Great Singing. If they don't understand what you're talking about
when you mention keeping the cords together, keeping the larynx neutral,
or using a blend to get above your chest voice, look for another coach.

6. Do you help your students work towards specific goals, vocally and
professionally?
If a coach asks you to write out your goals and bring them to
your first lesson, great! When a coach sees a student's goals written
out, they will work harder to help the student reach those goals.
Without specific goals, it's easy to wander aimlessly through lessons
and achieve little or nothing.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do, is to have the coach
sing for you. If they are singing in a way that you want to emulate, then
they can probably be of help to you. If they cannot demonstrate techniques
do you want to learn, you will probably be disappointed.
Do not be intimidated by voice teachers. Some of them can be very
arrogant. Ask the questions, interview all the teachers, you can, and don't
be afraid to pay high rates for a great teacher.

Try one lesson and check out the teacher in person


If a coach passes your telephone screening, set up an initial session. If
at the end of the first session your singing and understanding of singing
have improved, you may have found a good coach. As the sessions
progress, be sure the coach continues to deliver. Some coaches are great in
the beginning but as time goes by they slack off. A great way to keep
coaches on their toes and to document your progress is to tape the sessions.
Coaches tend to work harder when they’re being recorded.

If you live in an area where are you can find a good voice coach, I
recommend trying them for awhile. If you need to learn on your own,
remember many great singers have done so. This book contains valuable
information on the techniques of good singing. Apply what you learn here,
and make sure the teachers understand and can teach what this book
contains.
PART 2
THE 7 KEYS TO
GREAT SINGING
CHAPTER 6

KEY 1:
USE SINGERS' POSTURE
AND ENJOY FREEDOM
AND CONFIDENCE
Singers' Posture lays the foundation for powerful, effortless and
passionate singing. It's like the foundation of a house. There's
nothing glamorous about a foundation, but you sure need one if you're
building a big house, or a big voice.
Singer's Posture consists of four simple parts:

Part 1: Stand straight and strong


Singers are unique because their bodies are their instruments.
Standing straight and strong puts your body into a good position so that
instrument of yours can sound as good as possible. It will also boost your
confidence and help you look great on stage.

Try this now:


Stand with your back to a wall, with your entire body and head
touching the wall. Look straight ahead and unlock your knees. Next, step
away from the wall, relax, and try to keep this posture. Now you have a
good straight and strong posture. Your posture may slip a little bit as you
step away from the wall. That's just fine. What we are looking for is a
combination of a relatively straight body, while remaining relaxed.

The ideal singing position


When you're in the ideal singing position, your body is straight and
relaxed, with your weight on both feet and your knees unlocked. You're
not slumped, nor do you push your head forward like a turtle. You'll feel
feel comfortable, balanced, and ready to move.

Standing straight and strong makes the difficult notes much easier
When you're trying to sing that tough-to-reach note, if your posture
is good, the note will be much easier to sing. Imagine your favorite singer
trying to wail on a high note while slumped over. Even she probably
couldn't pull that off.

Standing straight and strong helps you to feel better


If you're standing straight and strong, you'll feel stronger and more
confident emotionally. Our posture has real impact on what we feel.

Try this now:


Stand in a slumped, defeated position with your eyes closed. Now go
inside of yourself and see what you're feeling emotionally. Do you feel
strong or weak? Happy or sad? Confident or scared?
Next, stand straight and strong, close your eyes, and see what you're
feeling. See how much better that feels.

Keep your strong posture even when you're scared


Many of my students have good posture, but not when they get up to
sing their first song for me. They shrink about two inches. With the bad
posture, they sing poorly and have a miserable experience. When I remind
them to stand straight and strong, they instantly sing better and have more
fun. They begin to smile as they are singing.
Many students start off singing with good posture, but when a high
note comes, their bodies cave in. They get scared, drop their posture, and
crash on the high note.
Standing straight and strong is easy to learn, but hard to remember,
especially under pressure. It takes real attention to remember to hold the
posture through the hard parts. Our tendency is to cave in when
approaching a difficult note. But caving in prevents us from ever hitting
the note.
If you knew a gorilla was about to enter your room, and you
“wimped out,” the gorilla would probably sense your weakness and wipe
you out. Don't let the hard parts of songs or Vocal Exercises bully you.
Take the stance. Stand straight and strong. It will help you feel better, and
sing better.

Tips for mastering Part 1 of Singers' Posture: Keeping Your Body


Straight and Strong
1. Practice standing straight and strong throughout your day.
Notice how you feel when you stand straight and strong and when
you don't.
2. Sing with your heels, back, and head against the wall for 5
minutes per day. This is an exaggerated position, and not as relaxed as
we ultimately want, but it does give you the feeling of a straight and open
body.
Part 2: Relax your upper body
Now we take your straight and strong body and help it to relax!
Relaxation is as important for singers as for any athlete or performer.
"Relax my upper body. Hey that's easy." That's what you think!
Relaxing your upper body while singing is hard, but necessary.
Upper body tension is one of the main reasons a singer's voice sounds
strained and harsh. If your neck, throat, shoulders, arms, face or jaw are
tight, it will make singing much more difficult.
Most beginning singers automatically tighten their upper body when
they're about to sing a difficult note. They get scared, which makes them
physically tense. This tension makes the hard note almost impossible to hit.
When a singer learns to relax through the challenging parts of a song, the
entire song sounds and feels better and the challenging part becomes easier.

How do you get your body to relax?


The key to relaxing your body while singing is to move the parts of
your body that tend to tighten up. It's difficult to remain tight while you
are moving. If your neck is tight, move your head. If your shoulders are
tight, roll them while singing. Walk around and let your body go loose like
a rag doll. As you do these exercises, your singing will become easier.

Example
One of my students came to her lesson terrified and in tears. In just a
few hours she would be opening for Primus at San Francisco's Warfield
Theater and she was afraid she wouldn't be able to sing her best. She
would be singing for thousands of people and probably felt like her career
was about to end.
I asked her to sing a song so I could see what the problem was. As
she began, I immediately saw what was wrong. Her shoulders were as rigid
as concrete. She was holding on for dear life and her voice was suffering
because of all the muscle tension in her shoulders.
I stopped her in the middle of her song and told her to sing it again,
but this time to roll her shoulders while she was singing. As she began
moving them, her voice became freer. Hearing her voice improving gave
her confidence, and she began to let go even more. At the end of the lesson
she had a smile on her face and gave me a kiss on the cheek. After that
performance and others, she went on to get a major recording contract, and
to sell millions of CDs.

Tightening up is normal
The tendency to tighten up your upper body while singing is
completely normal, and all of my students have to deal with it. Don't stress
about it. Just keep moving your upper body while you're singing, and you'll
learn to keep your upper body relaxed.
Tips for mastering Part 2 of Singers' Posture: Relaxing Your Upper
Body
1. Roll your neck and shoulders while singing.
2. Practice deep breathing 30 seconds before you even begin
singing. Before singing, especially publicly, many singers get nervous,
and their breathing gets shallow. The shallow breathing makes them feel
even more uncomfortable and their bodies become tenser. The solution
is to begin breathing deeply before you start singing. Then when you
begin singing, your body will be more relaxed and you'll feel better
emotionally.

Part 3: Open your chest


Part 3 takes your strong, straight and relaxed body and shapes it into
an even better instrument. Gymnasts, dancers, and yoga masters have open
chests. Just think of your image of Mary Lou Retton. She looks proud,
open and confident. That's your ideal open-chested posture.
When your chest is open, singing becomes much easier. Remember,
your body is your instrument, and when your chest is open, your instrument
has a good shape. Opening your chest also opens your heart to yourself and
the world. When your heart and body are open your voice and emotions
can be released.

Try this now:


Put a firm but small pillow on the floor. Lie down on your back with
the pillow under your shoulder blades. As you lie on the pillow, your chest
will naturally open. Really relax your body. Extend your arms over your
head and really stretch. Breathe deeply. As you breathe you'll notice how
your chest expands. Continue this exercise for five minutes.
This exercise will show you what it feels like to really open your
chest, and will help stretch open your chest, so you can do it while you are
standing and singing. I recommend that you do this exercise before each
practice session.

Try this while you're singing:


Open and raise your arms while you are singing. Exaggerate this
exercise. Open your arms so your look like Jesus on the cross. Really open
up your chest. This position will free your body and your voice.

Keep your chest open the whole time you're singing


Singing with an open chest is easy for awhile. Then fear and the
need for self-protection kicks in and the upper body starts to cave. You'll
need to continuously remind yourself to keep your chest open.

Opening your chest will help open your heart


Opening your chest will make you more vulnerable, which can be
uncomfortable, yet liberating. Even if some part of you resists, keep
opening your chest. Your singing will become easier and you'll eventually
use and enjoy your vulnerability in adding expression in your songs.
Tips for mastering Part 3 of Singers' Posture: Opening Your Chest
1. Practice walking and standing in a proud, open-chested
posture and notice the confidence and security that follow. Do this
during your daily activities as well as when you're singing.
2. Sing with open arms.
3. Sing in front of a mirror while trying to keep your chest as open
as possible.

Part 4: Keep your head level


Keeping your head level is easy to learn and when you learn it, you'll
look better and singing will be easier. Most of my beginning students
habitually raise their chin in order to hit the high notes. It's a kind of body
English designed to help hit these notes, but it doesn't work. Raising your
chin tightens the muscles around your throat. The tight muscles make it
much harder to sing well. Keeping your head level keeps the muscles
relaxed.
Try this when you're singing:
Start with your head in a level position, looking straight ahead.
That's the position you should sing from. As you sing, watch for a tendency
to raise your chin as you hit a high note. Spend some time singing in front
of a mirror because you may be raising your chin without knowing it. If
you notice yourself raising your chin, bring it back down to the level
position.

Remind yourself to keep your head level


Keeping your head level is not hard to do, but it's easy to forget. In
the beginning, you'll need to keep reminding yourself to do it. With time,
keeping it level will become automatic.
As you advance, you can raise your chin if you want to, and still sing
well. Then you'll be raising your chin for expression, not as a response to
fear.

Tips for mastering Part 4 of Singers' Posture: Keeping Your Head Level
1. Spend half your practice time singing in front of a mirror, and
if you find yourself raising your chin, bring it back down.
2. Sing with your back to the wall, while looking straight
ahead, and keeping the back of your head touching the wall. This
is the same exercise we did in Part 1, but now the focus is on
keeping your head level. This is an exaggerated position. You will not
feel relaxed, but your voice will be released as a result of keeping
your head more level.

Summary of Key 1: Use Singers' Posture and Enjoy Freedom and


Confidence
Singer's Posture is great because it helps you to sing better and
feel more confident. You can practice Singers' Posture at home, at
work and while you're walking to the grocery store. The more you
practice while you're not singing, the easier it will be to master Singers'
Posture when you're singing. In the end, you want a body that is open,
relaxed, powerful, and free. While you are learning this key, you will
experience some discomfort, because you are changing the bad habits
that you are used to. In the end, this key will make singing much
easier!

CHAPTER 7
KEY 2
KEEP YOUR VOCAL
CORDS TOGETHER
AND EXPERIENCE TOTAL
CONTROL

One of the most important things you will learn is how to sing
with your vocal cords close together. I know, you have no idea of what
I am talking about! RELAX, DON'T FREAK OUT!! You're not
supposed to know what I'm talking about, not yet anyway.

Your vocal cords, located in your throat, are two flaps of flesh that
can be moved close together or pulled far apart. When they are moved
close together, they vibrate against each other, and produce a loud,
resonant, edgy sound. Whey they are far apart they have nothing to vibrate
against so they produce a quiet and airy sound.
When you whisper, your vocal cords are far apart. When you shout
or talk in a normal voice, their are fairly close together.
Try this now:
Take a big breath and sigh, with your mouth open That's what it
feels like when your vocal cords are far apart. Try it a couple of more
times, just to see what it feels like.
Now take a big breath and say "awe" as in awesome and hold it for
five seconds. At this point, your cords are closer together, and you produce
a louder sound.

When you're singing, the goal is to learn to keep your cords close
together all of the time. When you do this, you'll produce a powerful
sound with very little effort.
A beginners' vocal cords will come together and go apart randomly.
These random happenings will make a beginning singer feel out control, as
indeed he or she is.
The first thing to do, is to go to youtube.com and search for vocal
cord videos. You can type in vocal cords, or Video Stroboscopy of the
Vocal Cords. Once you see, the vocal cords in action, you'll be amazed at
how simple their function is.

Anecdote
Jeaneen came to one of her lessons and she was sounding terrible.
Her vocal cords were coming apart and she had no control. She couldn't
even do the most basic Vocal Exercises..
I gave her an exercise which forced her to keep her cords together.
Her singing improved instantly. When she sang her first song, she took my
breath away. She was powerful, confident and expressive. She had total
control of her voice.

My experience:
When I used to sing songs with my cords apart, I could never trust my
voice. I had to work hard to produce any volume. Now that I know how to
keep my cords together, singing is much easier. I know I'll hit the notes I
go for, and if I want to sing with alot of power, I can.
Tips for mastering this Key:
1. Practice making a "creaky door" sound . This is the sound you
would make, if you were telling a scary story, and wanted to make
the sound of a creaky door.
2. Really "whine" like a little kid when you sing. This
whining brings your cords together automatically.
3. Listen to the way singers begin phrases with the creaky doors
sound. It is subtle, but very noticeable. Practice this on your
songs. It is a very common and powerful technique. It
automatically brings the chords together at the beginning of a
phrase, and they tend to stay together until you finish the phrase.

Summary of Key 2: Keep Your Vocal Cords Together


Learning to keep your cords together is not that difficult. But,
and this is a Key, where a good singing teacher could help.
CHAPTER 8

KEY 3
OPEN YOUR THROAT
TO ADD RICHNESS TO
YOUR VOICE

Opening your throat will have a huge effect on the sound of your
voice. Most untrained singers don't know how to open their throat.
I'm going to teach you how.
You open your throat by lowering your larynx. Your larynx (or
Adams apple) is that grape-sized bump on the front of your throat.
As you drop your larynx, your throat opens and you produce a richer,
deeper, more expressive sound. The key to opening your throat is
learning to lower your larynx.
Finding your larynx
Some people have a larynx that sticks way out and others have a
larynx that is somewhat hidden. Mens' larynxes are usually easier to find
than women's.

Try this now:


To find your larynx, place your fingers near the top of your throat
where you think your Adam's apple is. Now swallow. Your larynx will rise.
Now yawn. Your larynx goes down. If nothing happens when you swallow
or yawn, move your fingers up or down on your throat until you find your
larynx. Then try swallowing and yawning again and notice how it moves.

The three basic larynx positions


You just discovered how your larynx can move up and down. The
three basic positions of the larynx are:

1. Neutral, which is where it is when you are reading this page or


talking.

2. Up, when you're swallowing.

3. Down, when you're yawning.

Your goal is to keep your larynx neutral or slightly down when


you're singing. You'll learn to control your larynx by doing the larynx
exercises that follow. Eventually you'll be controlling your larynx when
you're singing songs.

Why do I need to control my larynx?


Good question! When you learn to control your larynx, you'll
automatically be controlling how open our closed your throat is. Your
throat has different degrees of openness. When your larynx is up, your
throat is somewhat closed, and the air and sound pass through an opening
about the size of a dime. Your sound will be thin, wimpy and potentially
obnoxious. Your voice will tend to "break" or "warble."
When your larynx is in a neutral position, your throat opening is
about the size of a quarter. Your sound will be much fuller now and you
won't feel like your straining or about to choke on the note. Singing will
be easier.
If you take this further and drop your larynx to its lowest position,
your throat will open to the size of a half dollar. At this point your sound
will be even louder, deeper and somewhat operatic in nature. We usually
won't take it all the way down in pop singing because we don't want to
sound like opera singers. But singers like David Bowie take it down pretty
far, which is why he has that somewhat operatic sound.
When you have complete control over your larynx, you'll be able to
control the richness, depth and volume of your sound. Sometimes you'll
want a sound with alot of authority and power. Well, just drop your larynx
slightly and you'll get that big sound.

Won't my larynx stay neutral all by itself?


No. When you sing low notes, your larynx will remain neutral all by
itself. But as you start to sing higher notes, your larynx will gradually
begin to rise, and as it does, the opening in your throat becomes smaller.
This is a reflex that happens automatically with most beginning and
untrained singers.

Anecdote
When Emily started taking lessons with me, she had a tiny, quiet
voice. When she learned to control her larynx, (which caused her throat to
be more open), she began belting like a great blues or gospel singer. Now
her voice is big, open and full of expression and soul. I've had many other
students like Emily who had quiet voices to begin with, who developed
powerful voices as a result of learning this key.

How do you learn to control your larynx?


Since you don't have any other activity in your life that asks you to
control your larynx, you probably don't know how to control it yet. That's
okay. You'll learn to control your larynx by doing the larynx lowering
exercises.

Larynx Lowering Exercises:


The purpose of these exercises is to give you control over your larynx,
which will then allow you to open your throat. While you're doing each
exercise, keep your neck, jaw and throat muscles relaxed.

Exercise #1. Larynx Push-downs.


With your fingers on your larynx, yawn. Notice how it goes down.
Now try to make it go down without yawning. If you need to jump start it
with a yawn, that's fine. Your goal is to lower it rapidly 20 times. then rest
and lower it 20 more times.

Exercise #2. Larynx Holds.


Lower your larynx and hold it down for 20 seconds, then let it come
back to the neutral position. Repeat this exercise 10 times. As you're
holding your larynx down, the muscles will begin to fatigue. This is good.
You're building strength and gaining control.

Exercise #3. Talk "hooty."


Remember the cartoon characters like Goofy, Deputy Dawg or Elmer
Fudd? They all talk "hooty." Talking "hooty" forces you to drop your
larynx.
The easiest way to talk "hooty" is to yawn and count to five out loud
while yawning. With practice you'll learn to talk "hooty" without yawning
first.
Spend five minutes a day talking "hooty." If you're unclear about
what talking "hooty" sounds like, listen to the examples on the Vocal
Workout CD.

Note: These larynx exercises are difficult and it takes many students
up to three months before they really master them.

My experience:
I was in the recording studio having trouble with a high note. This
note was unstable and felt like it was about to break. Then I realized that
my larynx was rising on that note. I lowered my larynx to a neutral position
and tried again. I was amazed. The note was now easy to sing.

Tips for mastering Key 3:


1. Practice moving your larynx throughout your day, at work, in
the car, while watching TV.

Summary
It will take a few months for you to have enough control over
your larynx to really control the openness of your throat. But if you
start practicing the larynx exercises now, you'll be very grateful when
you start singing songs.
CHAPTER 9

KEY 4
USE YOUR 3 VOICES
AND ENJOY A HUGE
RANGE

The only way to have a huge range, is to use your three voices.
You're about to learn what your three voices are, and how to use
them.

What are your three voices?


There are three voices that singers have available to them: the Chest
Voice, the Blended Voice, and the Head Voice. Many singers have built
successful careers by just using the chest voice, but there are advantages to
using all three voices.
You don't need to learn to sing in all three voices to have fun and
succeed as a singer, but you'll find singing more exciting when you have
different voices to work with.
For me, one of the biggest advantages of developing my blended
voice and my head voice, is that my chest voice got a lot better. Remember
that the chest voice is the voice singers use most frequently.
The chest voice and the head voice are fairly easy to master. The
blended voice is a bit more elusive. Once you experience the blended
voice, with time, it will become as natural as the chest voice and the head
voice.
Here are some descriptions of the three different voices:

1. Chest Voice:
When you speak, you're using your chest voice. Many rock, and
country singers use their chest voice, and nothing else. It has grit, power,
authority and muscle. It's big and impressive.
The only problem with the chest voice is that you can only take it so
high before it begins to break. In order to sing higher notes, you'll need to
learn to use your blended and head voices. Or you could do what some
singers do; just sing in your chest voice and be content to never sing high
notes.

2. Blended Voice:
A blended voice is a combination of chest and head voices. The
blended voice allows you to sing beyond the break at the top of your chest
voice. Also, by singing in the blended voice, you prevent the strain that
comes from pushing the chest voice too high.
Listen to Seal or Christine Aguilera sing high notes. Go to iTunes
right now. You'll notice that their high notes have some edge to them, yet
there is no sign of strain. If they were to sing those same notes in their
chest voice, it would sound like they were shouting, and it would be easy to
damage their voices. If they were to use their pure head voice, they would
sound like opera singers trying to sing pop music. The blended voice is
ideal for singing the higher notes that the chest voice just can't hit easily.

3. Head Voice (sometimes called falsetto):


Your head voice is what you will use to sing the super-high notes. It
has kind of an operatic quality so you won't use it all that often.

Try this now:


Count to ten in a voice like Mickey Mouse. That's your head voice.
Now count to ten in your regular voice. That's your chest voice. Try your
head voice again. It feels and sounds much different than your chest voice.

Learning the lip bubble


The lip bubble gets your vocal cords doing the right thing, through
most or all of your range, automatically! It makes it easy to work through
all of your voices, and most importantly it helps you get your vocal cords
close together! Once your cords learn what to do with the lip bubble, it
will become easier to sing correctly with open vowels.

How to do the lip bubble:


1. Place your thumb and forefinger of either hand gently on the
corners of your mouth. Now, barely grazing the skin, slide your thumb and
forefinger down half an inch, then spread them one quarter to half an inch
wide. This is your starting position.

2. Squeeze your fingers together as if you were picking up an egg


and push your fingers up to where your teeth come together. This is your
bubbling position.

3. Separate your teeth about a quarter of an inch, keeping your jaw


totally relaxed.
4. Now blow through your lips and make a sound like a horse
snorting. Be sure to keep your lips relaxed.

5. With your fingers still in place, make the sound "buh" as in


butter. You now have the lip bubble.

Troubleshooting:
If your lips aren't bubbling, you are either tightening your lips, or
your fingers aren't in the right place. The solution is to keep your lips very
relaxed while making the "buh" sound, and play around with finger
placement until your lips do bubble. If your lips bubble at all, you're on the
right track. It takes a month or two for most people to become consistent.
It took me 3 months to get my lips to bubble, so be patient.

Doing the lip bubble without using your fingers


Some of my students find it easier to do the lip bubble without using
their fingers. If you find this to be the case, that's fine. Just be sure that
you are producing the slow bubbling. Sometimes when my students don't
use their fingers, their lips bubble too fast and too much air escapes. When
this happens, the benefits of the lip bubble are erased.

Tips for mastering this Key:


1. Listen to singers on the radio and notice the different
singing voices they use.
2. Practice whining in a fairly high tone. You know, like a little
kid who doesn't want to do his homework. This will naturally
bring out the most elusive of the three voices; the blend.
3. Choose one of your favorite singers, who uses their blended
voice, and practice singing along with them. Imitating the blended
voice can be an easy way to learn what it feels like.
Summary
That's it! Only three voices, and they are all accessible to you.
This key will be a lot easier with the help of a good singing
teacher. If the teacher cannot demonstrate the blended voice, keep
looking for a better teacher.
CHAPTER 10

KEY 5
USE SINGERS'
BREATHING
TO RELEASE YOUR
MAXIMUM POWER

Singers' Breathing is quite different than the breathing you're


doing right now. When you learn how to do it you'll sing with more
power and less effort. Singers' Breathing consists of 3 simple parts:

Part 1: Take a 100% full breath before


singing each line.
This part of Singers' Breathing is my favorite because it's the
easiest to learn and produces the most dramatic results. When I show
it to my students their singing improves instantly and they think I am
a genius!

Try this now:


Here's all there is to taking a good singers breath: Pretend you're
standing on the edge of a swimming pool, and are about to jump in and
hold your breath underwater. Take the biggest breath you can, through
your mouth, as fast as you can. Now exhale. Try a couple more. That's all
there is to it! Taking a full breath is very easy and natural.

How will this full breath help me to sing?


The advantage of taking this full breath will be obvious once you
start doing it. The next exercise will help you experience the advantage of
a full breath!

Try this now:


Take a 100% full breath and shout "Hey You!", in a fairly loud
voice. Next, release all your air and try shouting "Hey You!" without the
full breath. Notice the difference. With the small breath you have to work
harder and you get less sound. With a full breath you get the most sound
with the least amount of effort. That's a pretty good deal!

A full breath is like a big backswing


Think of taking a full breath like a baseball player taking a full
backswing. With a full backswing, or a full breath, you have the maximum
power.

Tips for mastering Part 1 of Singer's Breathing: Take a 100% full


breath before singing each line.
1. Practice deep breathing at work, at home and in your car.
2. Do some heavy aerobic activity for 30 minutes/day, (with
doctors approval.)
3. Do not fill your lungs so full that you experience effort and
attention. Just fill them up in a natural and easy relaxed manner.

Part 2: Release your low notes, push your


medium notes and push hard on your
high notes.
Once you take that big breath there are three things you can do
with it. You can release it, push it, or hold it back. Part 2 teaches you
how to release and push your voice and how NOT to hold back.
Pushing your voice is like stepping on the gas pedal of your car.
Releasing your voice is like taking your foot off the gas and letting
your car coast down a hill. Holding back is like stepping on the
brakes. When you're singing, the trick is knowing when to release and
when to push your voice.

1. Releasing
Releasing happens naturally if you fill up your lungs and then just let
go. If you were to blow up a balloon, then take your fingers off the
opening, the air would release naturally. You wouldn't need to push on the
balloon to get the air out.
Releasing feels good because you're totally letting go. Letting go of
your voice gives you a very relaxed and pleasant sound. The next two
exercises will help you to experience what releasing feels like.

Try this now:


Take a breath and sigh. Really let all the sound and air out. Do it
again. This is what releasing feels like, when your vocal cords are apart.

When you're singing you'll be letting go in the same way, but with
your vocal cords close together. When you are sighing your vocal chords
are far apart. Let's try releasing with the vocal cords closer together.

Try this now:


Take a full breath and sing the word "Ho" with the same sense of
release you had when you sighed. Really open your mouth and let go.
Hold the note for at least five seconds.

2. Holding back
When a singer holds back, their voice sounds weak and lacks passion.
Therefore, I don't want you to hold back. But I do want you to know what
holding back feels like so you can avoid doing it.

Try this now:


Go ahead and sing "Ho" like you did before, only this time really
hold the sound back. You won't be as loud and it won't feel as good.

Why do singers hold back?


Most beginners hold back their voice because they're afraid of
sounding bad. But holding back is guaranteed to make them sound bad.
When you're singing, let all of your voice out. Yes, you'll sound bad some
of the time, but you will be building a good voice. When you hold back
you're not building anything.
The rule for holding back is simple: DON'T HOLD BACK!!!

3. Pushing
When you learn to push, you'll feel like you're at the wheel of a
Ferrari on a huge race track, all by yourself. You'll be in control of
tremendous power, to use as you like, when you like! Pushing your
medium and high notes gives them power and stability. If you don't
push them they will be weak and will tend to "break".

Try this now:


Get into a strong stance, spread your feet, really bend your knees, get
low and shout a fairly loud "Hey You!" from your lower abdomen. As
you're shouting push down from your lower belly.. The key to pushing is to
push from as low in your belly as you possibly can.
Some of my female students said it's like trying to push out a baby.
Since I've never given birth I don't really know, but I can imagine. If you've
had a baby this image may help.

When to release and when to push


Now that you know what releasing and pushing feels like, you need
to learn when to release and when to push. It's pretty simple. You release
your low notes push your middle and high notes.

Release before you push


When you're singing middle and high notes, you always release first,
then push. If you just push, without releasing first, your voice will sound
harsh and will lack freedom.
As you experiment with releasing and pushing your voice, you'll
make a lot of mistakes, but you'll also hear a new and exciting voice begin
to appear. Let that new voice come out.

Part 3: Sing louder as you get higher.


You just learned about releasing and pushing. Now you're going
to learn about pushing in more detail because every note gets a
different amount of push.

Valuable information about this Key:


You may have noticed that professional singers sing at different
volumes depending on where they are in the song. If you were to analyze
what they were doing, you would see that they are singing the low notes at
a low volume, medium notes at a medium volume, and the high notes at a
high volume.
When you sing a note at the right volume, you get a good and
powerful tone, with no effort or strain. If you sing a note too quietly, your
voice will be weak and unstable. If you're too loud, your voice will sound
forced and harsh, and you'll quickly strain your voice.
Most beginning singers hold back, especially when they get to the
high notes. That makes sense, because it's easy to lose it on the high notes,
and who wants to make a bad sound at a high volume? The problem is that
if you are quiet on a high note, you will sound bad. You need to increase
the volume as you get to those high notes.
As you experiment with different volumes, you'll make mistakes.
Sometimes you'll sing notes too loud and sometimes they won't be loud
enough. When you find that sweet spot you'll experience a smooth,
powerful, flowing voice with no effort or strain. It will feel fantastic!

Summary of Key 5: Release Your Maximum Power With Singers'


Breathing
Singers Breathing takes some time to learn, but when you learn
it, singing will be much easier and you'll have tremendous power and
control.
CHAPTER 11

KEY 6
SHAPE YOUR MOUTH
AND CREATE A BIG OPEN
SOUND
There are two parts to this key. First, you'll learn how to shape
your mouth, then you'll learn what to do with your tongue.

Part 1: Sing with a very open and relaxed


mouth.
When you're singing, you're mouth is the megaphone of the whole
operation. If it's wide opened your voice is amplified. If it's partially
closed, the sound becomes trapped within your mouth. Imagine running
over a megaphone with a truck and then trying to use it. The sound would
become trapped inside the megaphone.

How sound is created


The actual sound you make when singing or talking starts with your
vocal cords vibrating in your throat, producing a tiny buzzing sound. This
buzzing sound then vibrates the bones in your chest and/or head. This bone
vibration amplifies the sound so that by the time it reaches your mouth it's
much louder. The sound is then amplified even more by your open mouth.
If your mouth is shaped like a barely opened smile, your sound will
be thin and lacking in volume. The sound becomes trapped. If you open
your mouth to a relaxed "O" shape, the sound becomes richer, and much
louder because it's amplified by the mouth, which is now acting like a
megaphone.

Try this now:


Drop your jaw into the "O" position, now, while you aren't singing.
Pretend you're yawning. That's the "open mouth" position we're looking
for.

Keeping your mouth open


When you start singing, you'll notice that keeping your mouth open
is not that easy. Even if you start with a fully open mouth, as soon as your
attention wanders, your mouth may begin to close.

Tip: Practice singing in front of a mirror and watch your mouth. Try to
keep your mouth as open as possible.

How to sing an "EE" sound with an open mouth


One exception to the "O" shaped mouth is when you're singing an
"EE" sound. Your mouth should still be as open and relaxed as possible,
but it won't be an "O" shape anymore. Your mouth will in the shape of a
very relaxed smile, with about half of an inch of space between your teeth.
If you can separate your teeth more than half an inch and still keep the pure
"EE" sound, do it. The space between your teeth will give you the volume
you need, and your "EE" sound will actually sound like "EE". It's tough to
get a good "EE" sound with an "O" shaped mouth.

Try this now:


Take a full breath and sing "WE", with your mouth in the shape of a
wide smile, and your teeth slightly clenched. Hold the note for about five
seconds. Now, take another breath and as you are singing the "WE" sound,
open your mouth a little wider and separate your teeth at least half an inch.
Notice the difference in the sound? As you open your mouth and separate
your teeth, the sound becomes louder and richer.

Most people have a hard time opening their mouths fully when
singing. That's because the jaw muscles are tight. By stretching your jaw
muscles, you can learn to open your mouth wider which will give you more
volume. It will also help you to keep your mouth fully opened while
keeping it relaxed.

Jaw stretch exercise:


You can do this exercise in your car or while you're watching TV.
Simply open your mouth as wide as you can, keeping your jaw very relaxed,
and hold it for ten seconds. Relax and repeat the procedure for a total of
five times. Be sure to really stretch while your mouth is open, but don't
stretch so much that you hurt yourself. Be careful!

It will take time and experience to train your jaw to drop to the
correct position. But when you learn to do this, your sound will improve
tremendously, and it will feel so good to sing!
Keep in mind, that you don't want your mouse and a large old shape
all the time. You would sound very strange, if you did that. You just want
to generally keep your mouth, more open then you would when you are
talking. You can be the judge of how much sound you want to create.
When you want more sound opener mouth wider. When you want less,
close it more.

Part 2: Keep your tongue flat and


forward
Now that we've got your mouth open we need to work on your
tongue. If your tongue gets in the way, you'll block some of the sound.

Again, looking at the mouth as a megaphone, it's possible for the


tongue to get in the way and block the sound, even though your mouth is
open. Imagine what would happen if you stuck a pillow in a megaphone.
The sound would be muffled. When your tongue gets in the way, it's like
putting a pillow in a megaphone.
There are two things you'll do to keep your tongue out of the way.
First, the tip of your tongue should be touching the back of your bottom
teeth. Second, keep your tongue as flat as possible.

Warning:
One common problem singers have while keeping their tongue flat
and forward is that the words they sing get distorted. Be sure to keep your
vowels pure. In other words, if you're singing the word "free" be sure it
sound like "free" and not "fray".

Keeping your tongue flat and forward is harder than you think. It's
easy enough to do when you are not singing, but when you start singing
your tongue will want to pull back, hump up, and block the sound.

Note: This Key only applies to singing vowels; you know, a, e, i, o,


and u. When you sing consonants let your mouth and tongue do
whatever it wants.
Tips for keeping your tongue flat and forward:
1. Sing in front of a mirror and watch your tongue. Keep it as flat as
possible while keeping the tip touching the back of your bottom
teeth.
2. Many singers never need to pay attention to their tongue. Their
voice comes out naturally, and the tongue does not block the
sound.
3. My recommendation is to be aware, but don't obsess on what your
tongue is doing.

Summary of Key 6; Shaping Your Mouth


Watch great singers on TV, and you'll see just how open their
mouth can be sometimes. If you get a close-up, you'll also see that their
tongue is completely out of the way; flat and forward. Be patient with
yourself in learning this key, because it doesn't come automatically.
CHAPTER 12

KEY 7
USE VIBRATO
TO ADD BEAUTY TO
YOUR VOICE
Key 7 will teach you how to add vibrato to your voice, if you
want to. Vibrato is that wavering or pulsating sound that singers add
to the notes they hold. It is used in most styles of music with the
exception of some rock or alternative songs. You don't have to use
vibrato. Many successful singers never use vibrato when they sing, but
most do. I recommend you learn it so you then have the choice.

The benefits of vibrato


1. Vibrato improves the sound of the notes you hold. When you
need to hold a note, it's tough to make it sound good without vibrato.
Sustained notes without vibrato usually sound stark and unprofessional.
(Sting is one of the few singers I've seen get away with it.) When you add
vibrato, you produce a better sound.

2. Vibrato helps the voice to release fully. Something amazing


happens when vibrato is added. The voice seems to relax, and singers are
able to really let go. This produces a fuller and richer sound. It also feels
really good to add vibrato. You'll see what I mean.

Can anyone learn vibrato?


So far, in my teaching practice, all my students who have wanted to
have a good vibrato have been able to develop it. If you don't have fire
brought on naturally in your voice, you will probably need the help of a
good teacher to help you develop it. Many times after learning the other
keys, a natural vibrato begins to appear

Do some people have vibrato in their voice naturally?


Yes. About 40% of my new students have vibrato with no training
or practice. They are the lucky ones. The rest of us have to learn it.

How long does it take?


It takes up to a year for most people to develop a good vibrato. It
took me two years! Be patient.

Should you learn to use a vibrato?


That's up to you. If you like the sound, learn it. If you're singing a
style of music that doesn't use it, and you're TOTALLY POSITIVE you
don't want to learn it, don't learn it.
My experience with learning vibrato:
I sang for many years without vibrato. It didn't come naturally and I
didn't believe I would ever be able to sing with vibrato. I finally found a
teacher who said he could teach me how to develop my vibrato.
We started with the basic vibrato exercises. At first I was just doing
the exercises on faith. I didn't really believe I would get it. I was so
frustrated; at times I would kick and scream during my lessons. It was
hard!
Finally, after about six months, a beautiful vibrato appeared, just for
a couple of seconds. I remember the moment vividly. It felt wonderful. I
couldn't believe it. But I tried to do it again and couldn't.
It took me an additional year and a half to learn how to control my
vibrato. Now it is easy.

Tips for mastering Key 7: Add Beauty to Your Voice by using Vibrato
1. Practice making a sound like a car engine, trying to start. This
activates the muscles needed to create virato.

Summary of Key 7
Vibrato is something you can add to your voice with practice.
Just remember that it could be easier to learn with a good teacher.

RECAP OF THE 7 KEYS TO GREAT SINGING

Key 1: Use Singers' Posture and Enjoy Freedom and Confidence

Key 2: Keep Your Vocal Cords Together and Experience Total Control

Key 3: Open Your Throat to Add Richness to Your Voice

Key 4: Use Your 3 Voices and Enjoy a Huge Range


Key 5: Use Singers Breathing to Release Your Maximum Power

Key 6: Shape Your Mouth and Create a Big Open Sound

Key 7: Use Vibrato to Add Beauty to Your Voice


PART 3
SONGS
CHAPTER 13

SINGING SONGS
LIKE A PRO
Now will start working on singing songs. This is where it gets fun.
Your voice, body, and emotions all come into play. This is where you get
a chance to be great!

Using Karaoke tapes and CD's


I know the word "Karaoke" has a bad connotation with serious
singers, but Karaoke tapes and CD's are a fantastic way to develop your
voice and learn songs.
Karaoke tapes and CD's have the full version of the song (with the
karaoke singer), as well as another version of the same song which has no
singer, just the band. Singing with Karaoke tapes and CD's is better than
singing with the original artist, because when you sing with the original
artist, you can't really hear what you sound like because you're blending
with them. With a karaoke tape or CD, you can follow the Karaoke singer
in order to learn the song, then once you feel comfortable, you can sing
with the band, minus the Karaoke singer. This will allow YOUR VOICE
to fully develop.
These tapes and CD's are fun and inspirational because most of them
sound great! You can purchase them at many record stores and on the
Internet. Most large cities have stores that sell nothing but karaoke tapes.
Get some songs, and start practicing. You'll have a great time!

Practicing your songs


There are three phases singers go through in learning a song. A song
should not be performed publicly until you have gotten to Phase 3.

Phase 1. Memorizing the melody and lyrics


The best way to memorize the melody is to sing along with the
Karaoke singer. Once you know the melody, practice the song without the
singer.
Memorize the lyrics by reading them while you're singing the song.
Then put them aside and try to sing them from memory. If you get stuck,
refer back to the lyric sheet.
Don't expect to sound good at this stage. You're just learning the
song.

Step 2. Practicing the song


When you're first learning a song, you have to think about it. It
doesn't come automatically. The only way to have a song become second
nature is to sing it over and over again. I need to sing a song at least 100
times before I really know it. You probably will too.
The song will sound better at this point, but not fantastic.

Step 3. Owning the song


There will come a time when you really own the song. At this point
it's really easy for you to sing. You know it so well that you can start to
play with it. You can hold notes, belt notes, or get very quiet in parts.
You can also start to put your heart into the song. I'll talk more
about that later.
At this point you'll be confident, you'll sound great and you're ready
to perform the song.

Playing with dynamics


If you listen to songs on the radio, you'll notice singers belting out
certain parts, and coming down in volume in others. This technique is
known as dynamics.
The best way to approach dynamics is to sing the low notes at low
volumes, the medium notes at medium volumes, and the high notes at
high volumes. You want to feel the contrast between the different sections
of a song, so really exaggerate the lows and highs. Adding dynamics to a
song will make it much more interesting
The other approach singers use, is they sing the beginning of the song
fairly quietly, and then as they get towards the end of the song, they
increase the volume. Listen to songs on the radio and you'll see what I
mean.

Forgetting the words


I wish I could tell you that you'll never forget the words to a song.
The reality is: you will! Professional singers who have been singing all of
their lives forget lyrics. It's part of being a singer. However, there are
some things you can do to minimize this problem.
First of all, don't panic! If you remain calm, the words may still
come to you. Many times I remember the words a split second before I
need to sing them. With time, you'll develop faith that the words will often
come to you.
The other skill you need to develop is "faking it." When you really
do forget the words, "faking it" will allow you to get through the song
without the audience even knowing there was a problem. The key here is to
keep singing no matter what. Repeat lyrics you've already sung. Make up
lyrics. Scat. Just keep going. The audience will probably think your
creative genius is coming out. Remember the audience isn't sitting their
with lyric sheets in their hands. If you sing the wrong verse they usually
won't notice. As you practice "faking it", it will become easier and easier
for you to do.

Learning new songs


Keeping your practice sessions fun is very important. Learn new
songs so you don’t get tired of your old ones. You should try to learn at
least two to four new songs per month.
In order to keep track of the status of your songs, I suggest putting
all songs into one of the following categories, and using the form below:

Category 1. “Songs to buy” are songs you want to learn, but are not
yet singing.

Category 2. “Songs to learn” are songs for which you have the
Karaoke tape but don't know yet.

Category 3. “Songs ready to perform” are songs which you have


learned and are now ready to perform.

Songs to buy Songs to learn Songs ready to perform


1.

2.

3.
4.
5.

6.

7.
CHAPTER 14

DEVELOPING YOUR
OWN UNIQUE STYLE

My goal is to help you develop the most interesting, passionate,


unique voice possible. Inside of you is a new voice that no one has ever
heard.
The first thing you need in order to develop that unique voice is the
total willingness to crash and burn. If you're not willing to do that, you'll
develop a safe, white-bread, boring voice. If you want soul, you have to be
willing to take risks.

Taking chances and making mistakes is the key


You've probably had moments where you heard something in your
head that you wanted to sing, but didn't, because you didn't want to sound
foolish. So you held it in. The baby never got a chance to be born. The
flower never got a chance to bloom.
Well those days are over! You can't afford to hold in your wild ideas
anymore. Yes, as you begin taking chances, you'll sound foolish, quite
often. But so did all the great singers, in the beginning.
In fact, the more wild and out of control you sound now, the more
creative and interesting you'll be when your voice develops. If you have a
"live wire" voice, great! Let it out!
Mistakes are great
Mistakes will help you grow! I let my students know that it's not
only fine for them to make mistakes, but it's great. The students who are
willing to experiment, let go and fall apart are the creative ones who learn
at an accelerated rate and become fantastic singers.
I tell my students that I want them to make at least 20 mistakes per
lesson. With this understanding, when they do make a mistake, they laugh
it off instead of cringing. Their bodies relax as do their spirits. Their
singing improves.
So, when you're practicing, take chances and let yourself make lots
of mistakes. Welcome them. You're growing now!

Finding pleasure will help you develop your style


There is a level of pleasure available to you that you can't imagine. I
don't even know how to really describe it. It's dreamlike and totally
wonderful. It's PURE ART!

Anecdote
I remember vividly the first time I experienced a heightened level of
pleasure while singing. I was on a medium sized stage, singing an Elton
John song. About 30 seconds into the song something happened. My entire
body began expressing the song. I was singing like I had never sung before.
I could hardly believe it was me singing. I had wanted to sing like this for
years and never had, but now, in this incredible moment, I was! I poured
my soul into the lyrics. Sweat poured from my body. Every cell in my body
was expressing. This was better than sex! Well, at least as good! The
more I expressed, the more the audience got into it. That encouraged me to
give even more. Wow! I'll never forget those moments. Neither will you
when you experience singing in that way.

When I sing now, I experience pleasure most of the time. I'm able to
connect with a part of myself that doesn't get to come out in my normal
life. I experience physical and emotional pleasure and satisfaction.
When you're experiencing the real pleasure of singing, you won't be
worrying about how you look or sound. You'll simply be expressing.
You'll feel great and so will your audience!
There is no quick way to find this dreamy world of singing ecstasy.
Time, work and experience will bring it to you. Pleasure is your payoff
and the payoff is HUGE!

Summary
Developing your own style is what singing is all about. Cloning
other famous singers can bring limited pleasure for awhile, but eventually
you'll become bored and so will your audiences. Audiences and record
companies are interested in hearing unique voices. Let out that raw, rough
voice from the bottom of your soul. With time, it will mature into a voice
that will bring you the greatest pleasure and success.
Remember, your voice and the life experiences and emotions that you
express through your singing are unique to you. Share your real self with
the world and experience a bliss you can't imagine.
CHAPTER 15

A TROUBLESHOOTING
GUIDE

Sometimes a song just won’t "feel right." Following are solutions to


common problems you may encounter while singing songs.

Symptom: My song sounds rough and unprofessional.


Solution: You simply need to sing the song more. Most beginners need to
practice a song close to one hundred times before it begins to feel and
sound comfortable.
It's also possible that this particular song isn't right for you. Maybe
the key is too high, or too low, or the style doesn't fit your voice. If that's
the case, pick another song, and save this song for when you are at a more
advanced level.
Symptom: It sounds like I am singing off pitch in places.
Solution: You probably are. Notice when you are off pitch and correct it
on the spot. Try to follow the karaoke singer. Singing on pitch is simply a
matter of paying attention, making corrections, and lots of practice.

Symptom: My songs sound quiet and weak.


Solution: Before singing each song, shout three strong “Hey Ho!”s. Then,
when you sing your song, be sure you take full breaths and let out all the
sound.
If that doesn't give you enough power, try singing a song much
louder than you ever have. Go ahead and try to double the volume. You'll
find that if you sing real loud, you get a lot of release. It's hard to hold
back and sing loud at the same time. When you sing your next song
(without trying to be especially loud), you'll notice that the song is much
louder and more released than before. You'll notice that it's alot easier to
let go.
The other reason singers hold back is because they are afraid of
people hearing them sing. If you are holding back because you are afraid
of bothering someone, find a time and place where you can sing without
worrying about that.

Symptom: I can’t sing the high notes.


Solution: The song is probably too high for you, at this stage of your
development. If you're having trouble with high notes in general, you can
eat or lower the keys of the troublesome songs, or you can look for a good
teacher to help you increase your range.

Symptom: The low notes are too low to sing.


Solution: The song has been recorded in too low a key for your voice.
Your low range will expand some as a result of doing the exercises, but if
you're a woman singing a song in a man's key, you may have to find the
song in a woman's key. Call the Karaoke store and see if they can order it
in a higher key. If not, pick another song, or buy the sheet music and hire
a keyboardist to record the song in a better key.

Symptom: I don’t enjoy singing the song.


Solution: If a particular song doesn’t inspire you or you can’t relate to the
lyrics, don’t sing it. There are thousands of songs, so pick songs you like.
It's common for a singer to like a song they heard on the radio, but dislike
singing it themselves.

Symptom: I am getting bored with certain songs.


Solution: If you spend six months singing one or two songs, you will
become bored. The key is to bring new songs into your practice sessions so
you don’t become tired of the others. Once you know a particular song and
can perform it well, you only need to sing it a couple of times a week. Try
to learn two to four new songs per month.
CHAPTER 16

HOW TO KEEP SINGING


'TIL YOU'RE 95

Remember, your body is your instrument. The better you take care
of your body, the better you'll sing now, and as you grow older. One of
the great things about singing is that you can sing well into old age, if you
use The 7 Keys, and take good care of yourself. Here are some tips for
taking care of your body and your voice.

Build your voice gradually


The process of building your voice is very similar to the way
professional athletes build their bodies. Athletes and singers build muscles
and develop focused muscle control.
Your ideal practice routine is challenging enough to cause your
muscles to grow, but not so strenuous that you injure yourself. When
you're practicing, you should feel like you're getting a workout, but not like
you're hurting yourself. Push yourself, let all your voice out, but when
your voice is tired, rest!
If you came to me as someone who wanted to become a professional
runner, but had never even been jogging, I would start you out on an easy
program. Maybe a mile a day for the first month. Then I'd build you up to
three miles a day, and as you became stronger, I'd keep increasing your
workout until you were running 25 miles a day. It may take six months or
longer to achieve that level. If I had you try to run 25 miles a day during
your first week of training, you probably would have injured yourself and
quit.
It's important to be reasonable and build slowly. The great singers
you hear on the radio spent years developing their vocal power.
As you gradually increase the time and intensity of your practice,
you'll begin to notice the changes in your voice. It will become richer,
stronger and louder. Vocal Exercises that used to be difficult will become
easier.

Keeping in shape
Many singers are on intense exercise programs. One of my students
works out like a madman. He's in incredible physical shape. This does two
things for him. It gives him vitality that gets expressed in his voice, and it
gives him the endurance he needs to run around on stage for an hour. Until
you've been on stage singing, you don't know just how much of a workout
it really is. It takes real physical stamina and strength.
If you're the type of person who likes exercise, great! If not, try to
find some form of exercise that you like. It's important to like the exercise
you're doing so you'll keep it up. I happen to enjoy swimming, weights
and yoga. I work out five to six days per week for about 90 minutes per
day.
Any exercise that gets you breathing hard is great. Running, aerobics
and tennis are all good. Swimming laps is wonderful because it works so
many muscles, while giving you an aerobic workout.
You may have to force yourself to get started. That's the hardest
part. After a few weeks you'll notice your body toning up and you'll feel
incredible after each workout. My greatest reward is how I feel after
exercising. I get a tremendous physical and emotional high.
Remember, in many regards, you are an athlete. You're dependent
on your body, just like an athlete is. If you're working as an accountant,
you don't use your body that much. But as a singer you do, so keep in
shape!

Body Tune-Ups
Professional athletes spend much time stretching and limbering up.
The muscles they use need to be strong and flexible. Here are some
exercises that will work on areas of the body that most singers need to
loosen up. Be sure to breathe deeply while doing these exercises.

1. Shoulder rolls
Stand in a comfortable position with your arms at your side, and
slowly roll your shoulders forward in a big circle. Really feel the stretch.
Concentrate on making a circle, not an oval or a square. Repeat this for a
total of five times. Then reverse the direction and roll your shoulders
backwards. Repeat this five times also.

2. Neck rolls
Stand in the same position and roll your head, very very slowly. Start
by letting your head drop towards your chest and then gently roll it to your
right, until you complete a circle. Do it three times in this direction, then
three times in the other direction. Be sure to let yourself stretch at all
points of the circle.

3. Chest stretch on bed


Lie on your bed, on your back with your shoulder blades at the edge
of the bed. Your head and chest should be hanging over the edge also. Let
your hands and arms go wherever they feel comfortable, or if you want a
real stretch, let them extend over the top of your head. Now take deep
breaths into your chest. You should feel your chest stretch. Spend one to
two minutes in this position. This exercise will really open up your chest.
The best time to do these exercises is right before you sing. In this
way, you'll be preparing your body by releasing any constrictions that could
be getting in the way of your singing.
Use common sense while practicing these exercises. Do not stretch
beyond where you feel comfortable. The goal is to stretch muscles, not pull
them.

Drink lots of liquids


Singing dries out your throat. So while you're singing, be sure to
have a glass of water, juice or tea by your side so you can keep your throat
well lubricated. Never go to practice or a gig without something to drink.
Alcohol is not good to drink because it dehydrates you. Remember
how dry your mouth gets after a night of drinking? Your vocal cords get
dry also. When that happens, it's like driving your car with no motor oil.
So keep your liquids non-alcoholic. Besides, most of the professionals I
know are incredibly clean and sober. The profession is too competitive for
you to be wearing yourself down with drugs and alcohol.

4 Ways to avoid damaging your voice


It's difficult to damage your voice, but it is possible. Here are the
best ways to prevent that from happening:

1. Use correct technique


When someone sings without using any of The 7 Keys to Great
Singing, they are using bad technique and will frequently end up damaging
their voice. These singers often become chronically hoarse and are unable
to hit any high notes.
The solution is simple: use The 7 Keys. When you use good
technique you run little risk of damaging your voice.

2. Don't sing when you're real sick


Fortunately, most people don't sing when they're sick because they
just don't feel like it. You probably won't either. But, if you're one of
those diehards, who tried to lead a normal life, even when you feel like
you're near death, stay away from singing. You could hurt yourself.
If you're just a little sick, and you have an important gig, and you
can still sing fairly well, go ahead and do the gig. Singing when you're
slightly sick is fairly safe, as long as you don't have laryngitis.

3. Don't overuse your voice


Let's say you're used to singing for an hour a day. At the end of that
time your voice feels tired and you really don't feel like singing anymore.
Now, if you were to sing for three or four hours the next day, you would
be overusing your voice.
If you're going to increase your singing time, do it gradually. Going
from an hour a day to an hour and fifteen minutes a day is just fine. After a
couple of weeks you could move up to an hour and a half. Just go slow.

4. Keep shouting to a minimum


I've had students blow their voices out because they had non-singing
jobs where they were shouting for practically eight hours straight. After
work they'd try to sing but couldn't because their vocal cords were so
inflamed. The only solution for these students was to quit shouting or find
other jobs.
I've also had students lose their voices after shouting for hours at a
ball game. They came to their lessons and just couldn't sing.
The solution is to keep shouting to a minimum. Shouting
occasionally is no problem, but shouting for long periods of time will cause
your vocal cords to become inflamed and limit your ability to sing.

Anecdote
Jean began studying with me about a year ago. She'd been singing in
a band for some time and was using terrible technique. She was thrashing
her voice at every rehearsal and gig. She'd come to her lessons very hoarse,
and I had a hard time getting her through the Vocal Exercises. She also
had a job where she was frequently shouting, which meant her voice never
had a chance to rest.
I told her she needed to rest her voice completely before we could do
any real work. She tried, but was unable to stop shouting at work and she
continued to use bad technique with her band. We were making very slow
progress, and we were both frustrated.
Then a miracle happened. She got pregnant and had a baby. Right
after having the baby, she had a month to rest her voice completely,
because she couldn't sing or work at her job.
When she came back to her lessons, her voice was completely healed.
At that point it was easy to get her to use The 7 Keys. Her singing
improved dramatically in just a few weeks. Now she's one of the best
singers I've ever worked with. We're working towards building her an
international career where she'll be selling albums and performing in
concert.

A tip for singing with musicians


When you first start singing with a band or musicians, be sure they
don't drown out your voice. If you can't hear yourself during parts of a
song, and your microphone is already at maximum volume, ask them to
simplify what they are playing or play quieter. Remember, you are the focal
point. You are supposed to be heard and need to be heard. If the keyboard
player or guitar player is overpowering you, you need to ask them to back
off.
Be very tactful when making this request. Don't say "I am the focal
point and you are here to just back me up." Instead try something like "You
guys sound fantastic loud, but I can't hear myself and I am starting to strain
my voice. Could you please try turning down a little to see if this helps."
Musicians have fun playing real loud. I am a guitar player and I like
my amp turned to to ten. I love to blast the neighborhood. It feels good!
But when I am singing I need to turn it down.
This issue will probably follow you through all your bands, but if you
are polite and tactful, you'll come out fine, and you won't blow your voice
out.

How to rest a thrashed voice


You will wear your voice out from time to time. It's the only way to
discover your true limits. When this happens, give your voice a week or
two to rest. Don't sing at all during this time. Try to keep your talking to
a minimum. With rest, your voice will return to normal.

When you overuse your voice, your vocal cords become inflamed, singing
becomes slightly painful, and your volume decreases. When this happens
you need to stop singing and rest your voice for a few days. With rest,
your vocal cords will return to normal and you'll be able to sing as well as
ever.

Summary
When you use good technique, and rest your voice when it needs
it, your voice will keep getting stronger as the years go by. Most
singers peak at around age 55. In other words, they keep getting
better and better until they reach 55 or so. From that point on they
level off. They won't get worse, they just won't improve much.
A great example is Tina Turner. I think she sounded better in
her 50's than she did in her 20's. Many of the top money earners ($50
million a year and up) are singers 40 and older. As you learn The 7
Keys to Great Singing and keep practicing, your voice will work for
you well into grandparenthood.
PART 4
FROM UPTIGHT
SINGER TO BLOW-
EM AWAY
PERFORMER
CHAPTER 17

THE 7 SECRETS OF
GREAT PERFORMING

Learning to perform is a skill that can be learned by anyone! Every


one of my students who practice The 7 Secrets to Great Performing
become good performers.
You may have a voice in your head saying "Well, this may apply to
other singers, but I'm not sure I could ever learn to perform." I'll tell you
right now, you can learn to perform. Just read this book and do the work.
You'll become a confident, skilled and exciting performer!

The 4 Steps to learning The 7 Secrets to Great Performing:

Step 1: Read this chapter to get a general understanding of The 7 Secrets


to Great Performing.

Step 2: Begin studying and practicing each Performance Secret on your


own.

Step 3: Join or form a Performance Team. This will help you to develop
your performance skills in a supportive group setting. I'll explain all about
Performance Teams in the next chapter.

Step 4: Perform at "Open Mics" and Karaoke bars at least twice a week,
practicing the skills you learned in your Performance Team.

By the time you finish Step 4, you'll be awesome. You'll be able to


get up on any stage and look and feel like a professional singer.

The 7 Secrets to Great Performing work!


When you watch a great performer, you are seeing The 7 Secrets to
Great Performing in action. Their performance is alive, captivating and
energizing. The next day you feel compelled to tell all your friends about
this performer.
The 7 Secrets to Great Performing are powerful, and will help you
become a confident, exciting and charismatic performer.
Performance Secret #1: Keep Emotionally
Honest

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You'll give passionate, exciting performances.
2. You'll sing better
3. Your stress level will decrease

When you're performing, you're using your voice, body, and


emotions. Many singers ignore the emotional part of their performance and
wonder why they never succeed. However the world's greatest singers are
emotionally expressive.
Let’s look at a hypothetical concert at Madison Square Garden in
which two singers are performing. Singer “A” is incredibly attractive,
dances wonderfully and has a perfect voice. In fact, this singer has one of
the finest voices the world has ever heard, but he is not very expressive
emotionally. The audience will be impressed with his voice but won't
really connect with this singer on an emotional level.
Singer “B” has an average voice. He makes mistakes. His voice is
rough and gravely in places. He's not particularly attractive. But he's
incredibly expressive, and pours his heart out to the audience. When he
sings a sad song and tears stream down his face, the audience cries also.
When he sings a happy song the audience feels incredible joy. Which
singer will receive the standing ovations? Singer “B” will! Audiences
respond to emotion before perfection.

Let yourself feel whatever you feel!


Your goal as a singer is to feel your emotions and let them flow
through you. This sounds easy, but is actually difficult. Alot of the time
we are feeling one emotion but trying our best to feel a different one. For
example, I used to think I should feel happy and confident whenever I got
on stage. What I actually felt was tremendous fear. So there I was, trying
to feel confident, when I was really feeling scared. I was in major
disharmony! I looked uncomfortable to my audiences.
When I learned to be honest with my emotions by allowing myself to
feel my fear, my performances got much better. I didn't feel so blocked
and confined. I felt freer.

Learning from kids


If you want to learn about emotional honesty, watch a two-year-old.
They can go through happiness, sadness, fear and anger all in a matter of
minutes.
As singers, we need the same emotional freedom the two-year-old
has. When you allow yourself to feel and express what you're really
feeling, you'll be convincing to your audience. If you're feeling one thing
but trying to feel another, the audience won't know what's going on.

Dealing with fear


Most of us don't even like to admit we have fears, let alone
experience them. However, in order to give an honest and convincing
performance, you need to accept and experience your fears.
When you fight your fear, your performance will be limited, because
you'll be using so much energy trying to push away that emotion. You
need to be able to focus your energy on the song and all your emotions.
When you close the door to your fear, to some degree you close the door to
the other emotions. When you let yourself feel the fear, all emotions are
accessible.
Remember that it's normal to feel fear when you start performing.
The steps to dealing with it are as follows:

1. Become aware of it. This shouldn't be too hard. Just sing in


front of someone. You'll probably be somewhat afraid. Just be aware of it.

2. Accept it. This isn't so easy because you'll probably want to deny
it or push it away somehow. However, you can deny and push all day and
the fear will probably remain.

3. Let yourself feel it. When you feel the fear, it can go through
you. You're stuck with it for only as long as you hide it or try to push it
away. Think of a quart bottle, full of fear. As you feel the fear, you're
pouring out the bottle. You may never empty the bottle completely, but if
you cut your fear by 50%, you'll feel a whole lot better!

You'll probably always have some fear


Most singers, even ones who have been singing professionally for
years, still have some fear before each performance. But, the fear doesn't
disable them. It becomes "excitement", which they use to give their
performance energy and life.
The best way to lessen your fear is to perform in front of people alot.
If you get in front of audiences once or twice a week, in a couple of
months, you'll have a new found confidence.
I recommend forming or joining a Performance Team. There you'll
be performing in front of a group, which will activate your fear, but you'll
be in a safe place where you can talk about and diffuse it.
Then when you do get on stage in a nightclub, your fear will be
diminished because you'll have dumped alot of in in your Performance
Team. You'll also have less fear and more confidence because you'll have
learned The 7 Secrets to Great Performing.

My experience with fear


I was feeling really scared one day, I don't remember about what,
and I decided to try facing the fear head on. I sat in a chair, closed my eyes
and focused on how scared I was. I imagined every terrible scenario and
took each one to the limit. I felt really scared.
Then a surprising thing began to happen. As I let the fear run it's
course, I began to see fear as a paper tiger. It had a big roar, but no real
power. Fear tried to be big and mean, but was really quite powerless. It
reminded me of the Wizard of Oz who turned out to be meek and harmless.
At the end of that experience I was no longer afraid and I felt lighter
and kind of happy. It was a great feeling and a relief to see that fear wasn't
so "all powerful."
Today, fear is still very uncomfortable for me, but it's much more
bearable when I remember that it is simply a paper tiger that can't really
harm or control me.
The following ancient Hindu scripture gives us another way to look
at fear:

The content of fear may be intense and gripping,


so much so that it overwhelms us completely.
But when we look beyond that content of fear itself,
what do we find?
Pure energy, energy which, if we focus on it directly,
will begin to reveal its real nature.
Then, instead of filling us with agitation,
the energy of fear can actually lead us
to a state of exhilaration, or intense concentration,
or love.

Most of what we fear never happens


Fear is generally not a messenger of truth. Most of what we worry
about never comes to pass. But when we are feeling the fear, it sure seems
like the terrible events we're stewing about will happen. I love the
following quote by Mark Twain:

I am an old man and have a great many troubles,


but most of them never happened.

I'm really glad that most of my worries never came to pass. If they
did, I would have died along time ago.
Feeling your emotions helps your body relax and frees your voice
When you hold back emotions, your body tenses up. That's the way
humans work! If your body is tense, your you won't be able to sing your
best. When you feel your emotions, your body relaxes, and your voice
becomes freer.

Try this before singing:


Here's an exercise that should help connect you to your body and
your emotions. Before you start singing, stand in a relaxed position, close
your eyes, and take some deep breaths. As you're breathing, pay attention
to any body tensions and let those muscles relax. Then notice what you're
feeling emotionally. Are you scared, angry, or maybe you're feeling a
combination of many emotions? Remember it's normal for people to feel
these emotions. In our culture we are taught not to express them. You're
not crazy or weird for having human feelings!
Now, when you start to sing, keep this physical and emotional
awareness going. When you let your feelings go as you are singing, you'll
experience a freedom in your voice and body that will feel fantastic.

An example of how emotional honesty works


One night, in a performance class I taught, Kevin sang a song which
totally bored myself and the rest of the class. He looked spaced out and
unfocused.
After his performance, he told us that he was feeling angry, but
didn't want to let it show. He was using his energy to keep us from seeing
that he was angry, which is why he looked so spaced out.
I suggested he allow himself to feel the anger and perform another
song. He did and this time I found myself captivated by his performance.
He had strength and integrity. He looked and sounded great. Because he
let himself feel the anger and any other emotions that were there, he was
able to give an honest performance. He freed up a tremendous amount of
energy. The class loved him.
This happens often in my teaching practice. When my students allow
themselves to be emotionally honest, their performances improve
tremendously.
When you're singing, let yourself feel whatever you feel! Don't judge
it, run from it or try to change it! At first it may be difficult, but when you
experience emotional honesty, you'll find great relief and satisfaction in
your singing.

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. Recite song lyrics to a friend and talk about their meaning in your
life.
2. Pay attention to what you feel throughout the day, on an emotional
level. Remember that a emotion is a powerful fuel for your
performances.
Performance Secret #2: Feel Every Word
in the Song

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You won't worry about how you're doing because you'll be
expressing rather than trying to impress
2. You'll have an easier time remembering the lyrics.
3. Singing will feel great.
4. Your audiences will love you

A lot of times when my beginning students perform songs for me, it


is obvious that the last thing on their minds and hearts is the meaning of the
lyrics. They're thinking about how they sound, whether or not I like them,
or when they might make a horrendous mistake. So how is their
performance? Not very interesting. At that point I have them do the
following exercise, which usually doubles the effectiveness of their
performance. I recommend you do this exercise with all of your songs.

Lyric Speaking Exercise:


1. Speak the lyrics without singing them. This will get you in touch
with what the lyrics really mean, and more importantly, what they mean to
you. Look for ways to tie the lyrics into your life experiences and emotions.
This is what great actors do. Remember, when you see an actor cry, they're
really crying because they're getting in touch with past experiences that
made them cry.
The first few times you speak the lyrics it may sound like you're
reading a grocery list. There will probably be very little emotion. But as
you go over the song several times, the emotions should begin to appear.
2. Talk about what the song means to you, in your own words. Be
specific and relate the song to your own life experiences. Emotions will
probably be stronger at this point. That's great! Let them flow!

3. Sing the whole song, while trying to feel each line intensely.
Forget about how you sound or look. Just feel each lyrics and your
emotions.

This exercise can be done alone, but it's most effective when you do it
with someone. Ask a trusted friend to do this exercise with you. You'll both
have a powerful and rewarding experience.

Resistance is normal
You may find some resistance to really feeling the lyrics because you
may be avoiding a painful place within yourself. If I am singing a song
about a woman who left me, it will be painful for me to remember the
women who really did leave me. In my normal "non-singer" life, I try not
to remember those painful experiences. But as a singer I need those
feelings. I may shed some tears while singing the song but I'll sound better
and feel better afterwards.

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. Go through each song, one line at a time and find ways to tie
your life experiences and emotions into each line in each song.
Performance Secret #3: Maintain eye
contact.

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You'll look strong, secure and professional.
2. Your audience will like you better

A friend of mine saw Tina Turner at a large concert. There were


about 10,000 people in the crowd. She felt like Tina was singing to her
personally. That's eye contact!
The natural human tendency is to avoid eye contact when feeling
uncomfortable. But, if you want to give your best possible performance,
you need to maintain eye contact with your audience. There will be times
when closing your eyes will be effective. Maybe the mood of the song
warrants it. But if you are closing your eyes because you are scared and
want to hide, you'll look like you're hiding and you'll have less energy to
put into the song.
Some nightclubs where you perform will be intimate enough for you
to make real eye contact with most of your audience. However in large
nightclubs or concert halls, you'll see nothing but bright white lights. You
won't be able to see your audience at all. In that case keep your eyes
focused in the direction of your audience, and to them it will look like
you're making eye contact.
Whatever you do, don't look at the ground, or close your eyes for
more than 60 seconds at a time. It makes you look nervous and amateurish,
and it breaks contact with the audience. Look at your audience and really
communicate with them.

Think about this:


Imagine someone was speaking to you and they were constantly
looking at the ground or looking away. How would you feel? Now imagine
that same person is speaking to you while maintaining eye contact. Better
huh! It's the same with singing. Eye contact works!

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. If making direct eye contact scares you at first, look just above
the heads of your audience and to them it will seem like you're looking
right at them.
2. When you're practicing, pretend you're looking out at huge
audience.
Performance Secret #4: Move your body.

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You'll look good on stage
2. It will become easier to let go vocally and emotionally
3. Your singing will improve

Almost every time I get a new student to move while they are
singing, their voice improves instantly. It makes sense, because moving
loosens them up physically and emotionally, which helps them to sing
better.
Moving on stage will help you to feel better and look better. It's not
that hard to learn, even though you might be a little scared in the
beginning. Here are three approaches you can take with your movement:

1. Moving with intent: This involves planning or choreographing


moves to go with each song. For example there could be a line in a song
that talked about heaven. At that point you could look and point up to the
sky. It would be a planned move that you did every time you sang that
song.

2. Moving from inspiration: This is what most singers do. They


don't have moves worked out, they just move as they feel inspired, but
they're always moving.

3. Aimless wandering. Most beginners aimlessly wander because


they are nervous. It often involves shuffling from one foot to the other, or
wandering around stage with a very weak posture. It looks amateurish and
isn't very fun to do.
Which approach to moving is best?
Moving with intent or from inspiration is good. Combinations of the
two are great. Aimless wandering will be boring for you and the audience.

How do your learn to move?


In the beginning, you'll need to force yourself to move. For most
people it doesn't come automatically. In time, movement will become
natural. Your body really wants to move to music. It's your fear that stops
you.
Most of my students feel real awkward when they start to move. But
that awkwardness only lasts for a short time. Once they get past the
uncomfortable beginning stage, movement becomes fun and pleasurable.
The hard part is to get started. Here's an exercise that will help you
begin:

Wild Man and Wild Woman Exercise


This exercise is fun and scary, and it really works. Here's what you
do:
1. Find a time and place where you can be totally alone, without the
possibility of anybody walking in on you. In other words, totally
private.
2. Put on some music that really makes you feel like dancing.
3. Let yourself move to the music in the biggest, most expressive way
you can. Go totally crazy! Let it feel good. Jump over the couch,
get down on your knees, shout, have fun! You should be sweaty and
totally winded by the end.
Do this exercise for about 20 minutes, three times per week. It's main
function is to have you go beyond where you would normally go. It
stretches you emotionally and physically and forces you to break out of old
safe habits. This exercise creates miracles for my students who do it. Make
a commitment to yourself to start today!
Anecdote
I remember a time when one of my students did the Wild Woman
exercise during her lesson. At first she was very restrained and
uncomfortable. She described it as an unpleasant and awkward experience.
She wanted to stop, but I encouraged her to keep going.
As the lesson progressed, she became more comfortable and began to
really express herself with her body. At that point she began to enjoy
moving and came up with some great moves.
By the end of the lesson her body was loose and free and she had a
big smile on her face. She was also singing much better!

It's okay to stumble in the beginning


When you first start this exercise, don't expect to be a pro.
Remember, in this aspect of your life, you are a beginner and beginners are
supposed to stumble. If that critical voice in your head starts rattling, tell it
to shut up.

My experience
The Wild Man Exercise really helped me to loosen up. I remember
one time when I decided to video tape myself while doing the exercise. I
was just curious, and certain I looked like a total fool.
When I viewed the video I was really surprised. Most of my moves
looked fantastic. I am not a trained dancer and don't have any particular
talent in that area, but I looked really good. Some of my moves did look
incredibly dumb, and made me really uncomfortable. But before viewing
the video I was sure ALL MY MOVES looked that dumb.
After viewing the video I felt alot more comfortable moving, because
I knew that most of my moves looked good. It was very liberating and made
moving while performing much easier.

Doing the Wild Man or Wild Woman while singing


By now you may realize that with practice, most anything can be
accomplished. This is definitely true with moving while singing Now it's
time for you to incorporate movement into your singing routine. No longer
can you just stand there like a student giving a recital.
Every time you sing a song, do the Wild Man or Wild Woman
exercise while singing. It's okay if you feel like you're overdoing it. That's
what you need to do. You've probably been under doing it up to this point
so it's time to break out of old habits and go wild!

Tip: Using your hands and arms


Use your hands and arms to express what you are saying. You do it
when you talk. It's no different when you're singing. If your hands are just
hanging at your side, you'll look totally amateurish.

Watch video performances and learn what the pros do


You can learn a tremendous amount from watching video
performances. By the time a singer gets to the level of performing on
video, they usually have their movement down. You can learn some good
techniques by watching these singers.

Walking backwards while singing


When you are actually singing, it's fine to move from one side of the
stage to the other, or from back to front, but not from front to back. You
want to avoid this move because it looks incredibly weak. If you need to
move towards the back of the stage, do it during a time when you are not
singing.
Once you're at the back of the stage, you can create a powerful effect
by moving forward while you're singing. Just don't move backwards while
you're singing.

Using the whole stage


Most of the time a beginning student will use a very small portion of
the stage. It looks non-professional. Use the whole stage, and when
possible, the whole room. It will make your performance more fun for you
and your audience.
Use your space vertically as well. Get down on your knees, curl up
in a corner, stand up and explode. Trust your intuition when you have an
idea, and try that wild idea!

Stage lighting
Be aware of the lighting. Many places don't have movable spotlights
that can follow you wherever you go. Know where you are in relation to
the lights. If the light is in your eyes, the audience can probably see you.
If you're in a dark part of the stage or room, the audience won't be able to
see you.

Using a video camera


Home video cameras can be a tremendous tool for your movement
development. They allow you to see what really works and what needs
changing. I suggest you tape your rehearsals and your "Wild Man/Wild
Woman" exercises. You'll be surprised at how good you look. Taping
yourself is also a good way to check out and improve your costume and
makeup.
If you don't own a camera, borrow or rent one. It will be the best
investment you'll ever make. If you just spend a day or two in front of the
camera, you will be able to make improvements that would take months
without a camera.

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. Do the Wild Man/Wild Woman three times per week
2. Go club dancing once a week

Summary
This Secret is fairly easy to master and produces big benefits.
Jump in and start moving. You'll heal your soul and look great when
you're on stage.
Performance Secret #5: Talk to your
audience.

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You'll be able to relax while you're singing
2. Your audience will like you better because they'll know you.

Talking to your audience can be great fun. The easiest way to talk to
your audience is to give introductions to some of your songs. A good
introduction can double the effectiveness of a singer's performance because:

1. It helps the singer to understand and feel the lyrics.


2. It breaks down the wall between "performer" and "audience," by
helping the audience to know the singer a little better.
3. It makes the audience want to listen to the lyrics.

What is a good intro?


1. A good intro allows singers to share themselves personally.

Example: "When I was little, I grew up on a farm, and every summer


we spent our days on the lake swimming and fishing. This song reminds
me of those times."

2. A good intro tells the audience what the song is about.

Example: "When my wife left me, I thought my life was over. But
I just met someone new, and now I feel like my life is just beginning. This
song is dedicated to the new love of my life."
What is a bad intro?
1. A bad intro is whiny or negative in nature.

Example: "Living in this city is horrible... all the pollution, traffic


and violence. The world is really going down the tubes." Remember,
people are there to be entertained, not reminded of the things they already
hate.

2. A bad intro tells the audience nothing about the you.

Example: "This is a song about falling in love." So what! Tell us


about YOU falling in love, what it was like, who it was with. Let us get to
know you!

3. A bad intro makes the audience compare you to the original


artist..

Example: "The name of this song is 'The Way We Were' by Barbra


Streisand." Not only does this tell us nothing about you, but it also will
cause us to compare your rendition to Barbra Streisand's version. You
don't want your audience to be thinking about the original artist while you
are singing.

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. Watch singers in concert and on TV and notice how they
talk to their audiences
2. Practice making up song introductions and rehearsing them by
yourself and for friends.
Summary
Talking to your audience is a skill that is easy to learn, as long as
you keep practicing. I recommend practicing many times before
getting on stage. Then, when you are on stage, you'll find a good intro
comes more easily.
Performance Secret #6: Give 100%
Vocally, Physically and Emotionally.

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. You'll get great responses from your audiences
2. You'll feel totally relaxed, satisfied and free after each
performance.

An audience can immediately sense when a performer is giving


100%. It's exciting and satisfying. An audience can also tell when a
performer is holding back.
Audiences expect and want performers to give all they have. That's
what makes a performer truly entertaining. When a performer holds back,
an audience feels cheated or bored.
So what does it mean to give 100%? It means giving everything you
have, emotionally, vocally and physically. Not 90%, but 100%. You know
when you are giving 100%. All singers do. You'll be sweating. You'll be
working out, big time! It will feel great. Every cell in your body will be
expressing the emotions of the song.
In his inaugural speech, Nelson Mandela delivered the following
words, which really inspire me to give 100%:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that
most frightens us. We ask ourselves "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?" Who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel
insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is
within us. And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our
presence automatically liberates others.
Tips for mastering this Secret:
1. Watch some videos of today's top performers.

Summary
Mastering this Performance Secret will begin at home.
Experiment with letting all your voice and emotions out. In the
beginning you'll crash, but with time you'll stabilize.
You won't be able to give 100% in your first few months of
singing, because your voice won't be able to handle it. But as your
voice grows stronger, you'll be able to give more and more. The more
you give the better singing will feel!
Performance Secret #7: Don't advertise
your mistakes.

The benefits of learning this Secret:


1. When you make mistakes, which you will, your audience usually
won't notice or care.
2. You'll deliver a very professional performance every time you
perform.

Many people believe that great singers just don't make mistakes.
Well that's not true. ALL SINGERS MAKE MISTAKES! The pros learn
to get through their mistakes gracefully.
Here's the key to dealing with mistakes: When you do make a
mistake, DON’T STOP! DON’T MAKE FACES! JUST KEEP SINGING.
If you forget some lyrics in a particular verse, sing lyrics from a verse you
remember. If you come into a verse too early or too late, keep singing. The
band should be able to follow you. If you keep singing, the audience
usually won’t notice your mistakes.
Many of my beginning students will roll their eyes when they make a
mistake as if to say "Did you all see that huge mistake I just made." It is as
if they had a gigantic neon sign on stage behind them that said"I GOOFED
UP! I GOOFED UP!" When you do make a mistake, play it cool. Don't
turn on that neon sign.
When you're practicing at home and you make a mistake, try to fake
your way out. This will help you develop the skill of "faking it." Then
when you get on stage, you'll have some skills that will help you out when
you make mistakes in public.

Tips for mastering this Secret:


1. Practice making up words when you forget lyrics.
2. Practice in front of a mirror and notice if you are making weird
faces when you goof up. If so, keep a cool expression even when
you make mistakes. This is also a good time to use a video camera.

Summary
The only way to learn this Secret is to perform, first at home
and then in public. With time, you'll get through your mistakes as
gracefully as the pros.
What's the best way to learn The 7 Secrets to Great Performing
Work on these Secrets one at a time, then gradually try to incorporate
them all into your practices and performances. Each time you learn a new
Secret, your performance will improve. If you want to accelerate your
learning and growth, read the next chapter and form a Performance Team.

HERE'S A RECAP OF THE 7 SECRETS TO GREAT PERFORMING:

PERFORMANCE SECRET #1: Keep emotionally honest.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #2: Feel every word in the song.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #3: Maintain eye contact.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #4: Espress with your body.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #5: Talk to your audience.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #6: Give 100% vocally, physically and


emotionally.

PERFORMANCE SECRET #7: Don't advertise your mistakes.


CHAPTER 14

HOW TO ENSURE THAT


YOU'RE EVEN BETTER
ON STAGE THAN AT
HOME

The 7 Secrets to Great Performing will transform you into a great


performer, if you practice The Secrets. You've already begun by reading
about The Secrets. The next steps are:

Step 1. Practice The 7 Secrets to Great Performing on your own.


Step 2. Form a Performance Team and practice with your team.
Step 3. Practice The 7 Secrets to Great Performing while singing on
stage in front of live audiences.

This chapter will show you how to form your own Performance
Team, and how to begin performing publicly. First let me tell you about
my experiences as a singer in learning The 7 Secrets to Great Performing .

When The Teacher Became The Student


One of my best memories of running The John Ford School of
Voice, was when I quit being a teacher and became a student.
I'd been teaching a performance class, and was getting jealous of the
incredible progress my students were making with their performance skills.
They would join the class as terrified beginners, and within a year they
were performing like professionals.
Even though I'd been the lead singer in all my bands, I never got to
the level of performing that my students were getting to. I wanted what my
students had.
I walked into class one night and announced that one of the other
teachers at the school would be teaching the class, and that I would become
one of their fellow classmates. I wasn't sure how they would respond, but
they were very open to the idea.
My first night on stage, in front of the class I'd been teaching, was
terrifying. I had to start off as a wobbly beginner. I made many of the
mistakes I'd been helping my students work through. This was a very
humbling experience. But I loved it! I looked forward to each class, and
always did my homework. One by one I began to master The 7 Secrets to
Great Performing,, and as I did, my confidence and performance skills
improved.
After about six months in class I had a huge breakthrough. I was
singing a ballad, and in the middle of the song something happened. I was
no longer contained, or holding back. I was expressing with every cell of
my body. I sang like I never sang before. I was communicating with my
audience, and using their energy to give even more. It was incredible.

Before I took the class, a certain dread preceded every performance.


I didn't have the skills or confidence to do a good job. Now I look forward
to performing.
The skills I learned in the class came from singing in front of my
classmates every week for a year, and receiving honest, loving and
supportive feedback. Never once did I feel criticized in a competitive or
cruel way. In a class like that there is a built-in safety valve. Since every
student has to perform, all feedback is underscored with compassion and
understanding, because the person giving the feedback has been through, or
is about to go through what you're going through.
The class was hard. I kicked and screamed and resisted facing my
internal demons. I thought I would die before doing some of the exercises.
But I grew and changed, and came out with a self-confidence and self-
respect that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

What is a Performance Team?


If you want to receive the benefits I received from the performance
class, put together a Performance Team. A Performance Team is a group
of five to ten singers who meet once a week and help each other learn The 7
Secrets to Great Performing through experience. Experience is the only
way to really learn these Secrets.
The structure is simple. You'll meet once a week for three hours per
meeting. Every week you'll sing for each other, do The Performance
Exercises, and give feedback. Each person commits to the team for a
minimum of one year. You can meet in a garage or a living room. You
don't need a big stage or fancy sound equipment. Your progress comes
from performing, practicing 7 Performance Secrets, and receiving
feedback.
The rewards you receive from your Performance Team will blow
you away. You'll have so much fun and you'll grow beyond where you
ever thought you could.

How to form a Performance Team


Wherever you live in the world, there are other singers nearby who
want to overcome their fear of performing and become great performers.
You're not the only one! Put up flyers, place ads in newspapers, talk to
your friends, and call vocal teachers. Before you know it you'll have a
team.

What do you do once you have your team?


You'll meet with your team each week and work on one or more of
The 24 Performance Exercises. I suggest using the Basic Performance
Exercise every other week, and using different Exercises on the alternate
weeks. The variation of formats will help you develop many skills, and
will keep the sessions interesting.

The 24 Performance Exercises

Performance Exercise #1. Basic Performance: Whole group.


Each person sings two or three songs. After they finish each song,
the audience gives honest feedback. For example: "I loved the way you
sounded but I wished you would have moved around more." The singer
then incorporates the suggestions into their next song, and again receives
feedback. After the first singer sings two or three songs, the next singer
does the same thing and receives feedback.

Performance Exercise #2. Movement: Whole group.


You bring in a song, and perform the song without singing. Your
goal is to express emotions and communicate the meaning of the song using
only your body. This exercise is powerful because it forces you to move.
Then perform the same song while singing. You'll be amazed at how
your movement improves. This exercise is scary, but produces amazing
results.

Performance Exercise #3. Brainstorming: Groups of 2-4.


• Part 1: You talk about your goals and the group asks "What's the
problem?" You talk about what's holding you back from achieving your
goals. If you get stuck, the group again asks "What's the problem?"

Time: 5 minutes per person.

• Part 2: The group gives solutions for the problem or problems.

Time: 5 minutes per person.

After you're finished with the exercise, the next person takes his or
her turn.

Performance Exercise #4. Skills Assessment: Groups of 2-4.

• Part 1: You talk about what you need to improve upon as a singer.

• Part 2: The group asks you what you are going to do to improve
yourself as a singer.

• Part 3: You tell the group what you are going to do to improve as
a singer. You write down your homework assignments, and at the next
team meeting, you report to the group what you have accomplished.

Time: 5 minutes per person.

Performance Exercise #5. Goal Commitment : Whole group.

• The group forms a circle and each person talks about their goals as
a singer. There is no feedback.

Time: 2 minutes per person.

Performance Exercise #6. Monologues: Groups of 2-4.


• Part 1: You stand up in front of the group and answer the
following questions, spending 5 minutes on each question. There is no
feedback from the group.

1. Why am I afraid to perform?

2. Why am I afraid to show what I really feel on stage?

3. Why don't I commit totally to my singing career?

4. Why am I afraid to be intimate with the audience?

Time: 20 minutes per person.

• Part 2: The whole group comes together and each person discusses
their own experience.

Time: 30 minutes.

Performance Exercise #7. I'm Really Bad and I'll Prove It to You:
Groups of 3-4.

• Part 1: You talk for 5 minutes explaining why you are so bad as a
person, a singer, etc. There is no response from your team members. Be
honest. Go wild! Don't hold back. You'll be surprised at the outcome of
this exercise.

Time: 5 minutes per person.

• Part 2: The whole group comes together and discusses their own
experience.

Time: 20 minutes.

• Part 3. Everybody in the group has something good said about


them by everyone else in the group.

Time: 20 minutes.

Performance Exercise #8. Staring Partners: Pairs.

• Part 1: Sit in chairs facing each other, knees almost touching, and
look into each other's eyes without talking or breaking eye contact.

Time: 10 minutes.

• Part 2: The whole group comes together and talks about their
experience.

• Part 3: Repeat parts 1 and 2.

Performance Exercise #9. Praise Behind Your Back: Whole group.

• Part 1: You sit in a chair with you back to the audience. The
group says good things about you while you write them down.

Time: 5 minutes per person.

• Part 2: The whole group meets and discusses their experience.

Time: 20 minutes.

Performance Exercise #10. Songwriting and Performance Teams:


Groups of 2-4.

• Each team of 2-4 people make up a song, rehearse it, and perform
it for the entire group.
Time for writing and rehearsing: 15 minutes.

Time for performing: 3-5 minutes.

Performance Exercise #11. Skit Teams: Groups of 2-4.

• Each team of 2-4 people make up a skit, rehearse it, and perform it
for the entire group.

Time for writing and rehearsing: 15 minutes.

Time for performing: 3-5 minutes.

Performance Exercise #12. Nobody's Watching: Whole group.

• You perform half of a song with the audience's backs turned. In


the middle of the song, the audience turns and faces you. After
performing, you talk about your experience with the rest of the team.

Time: 10 minutes per person.

Performance Exercise #13. Guest Night: Whole group.

• The entire group invites family & friends to come and be part of
the audience. At the end of the show, the guests give feedback.

Performance Exercise #14. Mini-Sets: Whole group.

• One week, half of the group performs a Mini-Set (5-8 songs sung
by each person, uninterrupted); the next week the other half does the same.
Feedback is given at the end of each singer's Mini-Set.

Performance Exercise #15. Written Feedback: Whole group.


• Each person performs three songs. The audience writes out
feedback and gives it to them to read at home. There is no verbal feedback.
This goes pretty fast, so you may have time for other exercises.

Performance Exercise #16. Speech Night: Whole group.

• Each person gives a five minute entertaining & honest speech


before singing one song. After that, the audience gives feedback.

Time: 15 minutes per person.

Performance Exercise #17. Random Topics: Whole group.

• Each person talks for 1-2 minutes on a question randomly asked by


an appointed leader. The questions should be unusual and unexpected, so
participants will begin to develop their improvisational skills. Questions
could be anything from "Why do you think geese fly in formation?" to
"Do you think the president is doing a good job?"

Performance Exercise #18. Video Night: Whole group.

• Everyone performs one song which is videotaped, then the entire


group watches the videos. You'll learn a lot by seeing yourself on TV.

Performance Exercise #19. Songwriting Night: Whole group.

• Everyone brings in two songs or song ideas that they wrote.


Words, words and melody, or completed songs are fine. They present the
songs to the audience, and then receive feedback.

Time: 15 minutes per person.


Performance Exercise #20. Song-a-Thon Night: Whole group.

• Students bring all of their Karaoke tapes. Each singer sings one
song, and is followed by the next singer. There is no feedback. When it
comes back to the first singer's turn, he sings a second song, and is followed
again by the next singer. This goes on for the full three hours. Depending
on the size of the group, each singer will sing up to 12 songs during the
night.

Performance Exercise #21. Duet Night: Pairs.

• Students pair up outside of class and rehearse duets to be performed


in class the following week.

Performance Exercise #22. Collaboration Night: Pairs.

• Students pair up outside of class and write a song to be performed


in class the following week.

Performance Exercise #23. Lyric Expression: Whole group.

• Each person recites the lyrics to a song. If it sounds like they are
reading a grocery list instead of really feeling the lyrics, they do it four
more times, with feeling. Then they sing the same song, really getting
emotional with each line of the song.

Performance Exercise #24. Karaoke Night: Whole group.

• The entire group goes to an open mic or karaoke bar and everyone
sings. You'll get a chance to field test what you've learned, and see what
else needs to be worked on.

Choosing Formats
Be flexible when choosing Performance Exercises for a given night.
You may want to use the Basic Performance Exercises for the first couple
of months, just to get your team comfortable. Do use all the formats,
because they're all helpful in different ways.

Giving Feedback
When giving feedback to a team member, always keep these
guidelines in mind:

1. Start with a positive comment about the performance. When


a singer finishes a song and is awaiting feedback, they are usually very
vulnerable. By starting with a positive comment, they can relax first and
then hear your suggestions for improvement.

2. Tell them honestly how you reacted to their performance.


This is harder than it seems. If you were bored during part of a
performance, it's not easy to tell the singer you were bored. I usually word
it like "I found myself drifting off during the second verse. What was
going on with you at that time?" It's easier for someone to hear "I found
myself drifting off" than "You were boring."
Always begin your feedback with "I" statements. It's better to say "I
felt" rather than "You were," or "You did."
It's easy to think that not telling them you were bored is a kind and
supportive thing to do. But it's not. If you're feeling bored, they need to
know. Think how unkind it would be for them to think you enjoyed the
performance, while you were ready to fall asleep. So be kind, honest and
gentle, and you and your team mates will grow.

My experience with The 24 Performance Exercises


I've done most all of these exercises, and they are incredible. They
changed me as a person and as a singer. They brought out skills I didn't
know I had. Give them a try. You'll be amazed with the results.

Going to Karaoke bars and open mics on your own


After working with your Performance Team for a few months, you'll
be ready to begin regular performances in front of live audiences. After
several months of performing in clubs, you'll be a solid performer, able to
get on any stage and give a great performance. A good place to begin
performing publicly is Karaoke bars and open mics. I know that Karaoke
bars have an amateurish reputation, but they're a fantastic place for you to
hone your performance skills in a low pressure environment.
Most large cities have Karaoke bars and nightclubs which feature
"open mic nights." Either of these places will give you the opportunity to
practice your performance skills. My students who take advantage of these
performance venues really benefit. I suggest you do it as often as possible.
You'll become a better singer and performer.

Singing the national anthem at ball games


Another great way to try out your performance skills is to sing the
national anthem at ball games. Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest
singing jobs to get, because there are so many ball games on any given
night, and they often are in great need of qualified singers.
All you have to do is go into any recording studio and record
yourself singing the anthem. This should take about an hour at most. Once
you have your demo, make a bunch of copies and send them to ball clubs in
your area. Start with the minor league and college teams, then when you
get some experience go for the majors. My students who have done this
rave about how easy it was to get hired, and how much fun they had
singing in front of such a large crowd.
You'll be gaining valuable performing experience, and when you
start looking for jobs as a singer, this will add to your credibility. When
you tell people you've sung the national anthem at ball games, they'll
assume you're a real singer.
The 3 Phases of performing
You'll go through natural, predictable phases when developing your
public performance skills.

Phase 1. Your first few times on stage will be the most frightening.
You should look at these performances simply as exercises. Don’t expect to
be great (not yet anyway). You'll probably do worse than you do during
your practice sessions at home, or with your Performance Team. Give
yourself credit for getting up there, even though you were scared.

Phase 2. After several performances you'll still be nervous before


you go on stage, but the on-stage experience will be more familiar to you,
and you'll begin to experience some confidence. You'll be as good on stage
as you are at home.

Phase 3. When you have dozens of performances under your belt,


your confidence will allow you to experiment and expand your level of
emotion and dynamics. Performing will be an incredible experience. You'll
be using your excitement and the audience's energy to fuel your
performance. You'll sing better than you ever did at home. This will be
one of your peak life experiences. You'll be hooked on performing when
you experience Phase 3!

Microphone technique
When you start performing in clubs, you'll begin using a
microphone. The concept of using a microphone is simple. The closer you
are to the microphone, the louder your voice projects. When you are
singing softly, bring the microphone in close. When you are singing loudly,
pull it away. Watch performers on stage and notice how they adjust the
distance between the microphone and their mouths.
The key to good microphone technique is to really listen. You want
the volume of your voice to be just above the volume of the music. If the
microphone is too far away and your voice is quieter than the music, the
audience won't be able to hear you. If the microphone is too close and your
voice is much louder than the music, the audience will be blasted out of
their chairs.
You'll need to be careful when pronouncing words that start with the
letter "p." When you sing these words into a microphone, they tend to pop.
In other words, you hear a mini-explosion every time you sing a word that
begins with "p." What you need to do is hold back on the "p." Don't let it
explode as it comes out of your mouth. Some singers have trouble with
other consonants such as "t" or "b." Use the same repair technique for these
consonants.
Learning to use a microphone is just a matter of practice. Most
beginners need about 20 hours of microphone use before they master mic
technique.

Summary
Learning to perform is just like anything else in life. You need to
do it in order to become good at it. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
Your favorite performers made them as they were learning.
Many famous singer's began their careers as the shaky
performers. Once they gained experience, they developed into great
performers. You can do the same.
PART 5
HOW TO GET PAID
AS A SINGER
CHAPTER 19

7 WAYS YOU CAN


EARN GOOD MONEY
AS A SINGER

Now that your singing and performance skills are getting strong, you
may have the desire to sing somewhere and actually get paid for it! There
are seven common ways you can earn money as a singer:

1. SINGING IN Nightclubs
2. PERFORMING AT "CASUAL" GIGS
3. SINGING AT Wedding CEREMONIES
4. SINGING ON Radio and TV commercials
5. SINGING ON Songwriter demos
6. WORKING AS A BACK-UP SINGER
7. RECORDING AND SELLING CD'S
We'll look all these ways you can earn money, and just how much
you can earn in each venue. Let's begin with nightclubs:

1. SINGING IN NIGHTCLUBS
Singing in nightclubs is a lot of fun. First, you'll need some
musicians to back you up. You can either join a band or put your own
band together.

Joining a band
The easiest way to begin performing in nightclubs is to join an
existing band. Someone else has already put the show together, so all you
have to do is show up and learn their songs.
Most singers need to audition for several bands in order to find a
good match. Remember, you need to like them as well as having them like
you. Your first step is to advertise yourself as an available singer, and
respond to ads placed by bands looking for singers.
There are several publications where bands advertise. In Los Angeles
there is Music Connection Magazine, in San Francisco, BAM Magazine; in
New York, the Village Voice.
These publications have a classified section called something
"Musicians Wanted." That's where the bands looking for singers will
advertise. There is also a section called "Musicians Available." That's
where you will place your ad, letting the world know that you are available.
Networking can also be productive. Talk to musicians in the clubs
and music stores you frequent. Put up flyers. You would be surprised how
many singers find bands way.
When you find a band you like, play them your demo tape (explained
in the next chapter). If they like your demo, you won’t feel such a need to
prove yourself when you actually sing with them.
If you get the gig, congratulations! If not, ask them why. It may be a
matter of style, or you may need to work on certain areas of your
presentation or your voice before your next audition.

Forming a band
You'll look for musicians in the same way you look for a pre-existing
band: through networking and advertising. The advantage of forming your
own band is that you are in control. You can do things your way in your
own time frame.
The primary disadvantage is that it takes time, patience and
persistence to put together a group of musicians whose styles, directions and
personalities are compatible. If you're just starting out, joining an existing
band is much easier than forming one. You learn the ropes, so if you do
decide to put your own band together someday, you'll be prepared.

Other types of acts you can put together


Solo act: If you play guitar or piano well enough to accompany
yourself while you sing, you can be your own band and work as a solo
performer. The advantage is that you are a self-contained unit. You don’t
need to depend on anyone else, and you can keep all the money you're paid.

Solo back-up: Another approach is to work with a keyboardist or a


guitarist. This isn’t as exciting as performing with a full band, but the
money is good because you are splitting it with only one other person.

Looking for work in nightclubs


If you put your own band together, you'll probably be the one who
has to look for the gigs. Visit the clubs in your area so you can decide
where you would like to perform. Some clubs will look fantastic and others
won’t be appealing at all. Begin a list of all the clubs that you like.
Call the clubs where you'd like to work and find out who does the
booking. Some will be booked by owners and managers, while others will
be booked by outside agents. Send your promo package (defined below) to
whomever does the booking.
After mailing your packages, wait a week or two, then call the person
who does the booking. Find out if they received your promo package and if
they have any performance dates in mind. If not, ask when you should call
them again.
Looking for work in nightclubs is much like looking for any other
job. Some clubs will hire you and some won't. Be persistent and you will
find work.

Working with agents


Some nightclubs only hire bands through booking agents. Often
these clubs are inside large hotels where the hotel managers don't want to
hassle with auditions, so they have agents bring in the bands. The agent
takes a percentage of what you earn in exchange for getting you gigs.
Their take ranges from 10%-25%, but you'll end up doing fine because the
hotel gigs generally pay better than other gigs.
To find agents, talk to the musicians in the hotel nightclubs, or look
in the yellow pages. Send them your promo package and call them in a
week.

Assembling your promo package


Whether you look for work through an agent or go directly to the
club owners, you'll need to present a promo (promotional) package. Your
promo package will be the equivalent of a resume. You'll present it to club
owners and agents. A good promo package consists of the following:
1. Your demo CD.
2. An 8" X l0" black and white photo of you or you and your
band
3. A cover letter or “bio”. This document will state your
performing experience, recording studios you’ve worked in, and the
musicians you’re working with. As a beginner, you may choose to omit
this part of the promo package. Many club owners won’t expect it.
What you'll earn: You earn $50-$300 per night singing in nightclubs.

2. PERFORMING AT "CASUAL" GIGS


Casuals are jobs where the musicians often meet each other for the
first time at the gig (job sight). The musicians either know the songs by
heart or read sheet music as they play. There are usually no rehearsals.
You may be singing at a medical convention, a local nightclub, a party or a
wedding reception.
You'll usually figure out what songs to play when you arrive at the
gig. This type of gig involves a high level of musicianship, so if you're just
starting out you may not be offered casual gigs. But once musicians get to
know you as a talented and reliable singer, you'll start getting the job
offers.
I remember a student who did nothing but casual gigs. She had more
job offers than she could handle, because she was a good singer, a nice
person, and very responsible. Musicians get sick of flaky singers with
attitudes, so when they find someone who shows up on time with a smile
and a positive attitude, they hire that singer again and again.
Casual gigs can be fun because you get to sing with so many different
musicians in all types of venue. You also get paid fairly well.

What you'll earn: These gigs will pay you $100-$400 for a 1-4 hour
session.

3. SINGING AT WEDDING CEREMONIES


Singing at wedding ceremonies is a low-pressure and fun way to get
started. Let your friends know you are available. Advertise in local
newspapers. If you get the word out, work will come to you.
I know singers who have gone to the courthouse to find out who's
getting married, and then sent their wedding demo to the bride and groom.
You should definitely get your demo and business card in the hands of
every wedding planner within 100 miles of where you live. In this case
your demo will just be wedding songs.
One of the cool things about singing at weddings is that you can
often sing with Karaoke tapes, which means you don't have to split the
money with a keyboardist. Sometimes a piano player or keyboardist will
be provided by the wedding party at no charge to you, and sometimes you'll
be expected to bring your own. One thing about singing at weddings is that
every situation is different.

What you'll earn: You'll earn $100-$400 for singing 2-4 songs.

4. SINGING ON RADIO AND TV COMMERCIALS


Singing jingles and commercials requires a high degree of vocal
control, improvisational skills, and the ability to perform under pressure.
The work provides a fairly reliable source of income, once you break in,
but it does take time to break in.
The best way to get started is to record a jingle demo and present it
to the producers who do commercial work. A jingle demo is a recording of
you singing commercials. These can be jingles that you make up, or copies
of jingles on the radio or TV. The steps for recording your jingle demo are
the same as those for recording your song demo, except you record
commercials instead of songs. You'll learn how to record your demo in the
next chapter.
If you don’t know anyone in the advertising field, get on the phone
and talk to recording studios and ad agencies. Ask who the producers are
and how to get in touch with them. Send the key people your demo, and
then call them at least once a month, letting them know you are interested
in working for them. Better yet, visit them in person. When an opening
occurs, they will be likely to remember your perseverance and honest
interest in working for them.
Breaking into this field often takes a year or more of phone calls and
knocking on doors. But when you're in, the money is good and the work is
exciting and satisfying.
What you'll earn: $50-$200 per hour.

5. SINGING ON SONGWRITER DEMOS


Singing on songwriter demos is easier than singing commercials, but
doesn’t pay as well. I suggest taking your demo to smaller studios in your
area and letting them know that you are willing to work for free. After a
couple of jobs, you can start charging for your services. Before Huey Lewis
was well known, he was singing on songwriter demos for $25 a song.
Most of the work will consist of singing for songwriters who don't
sing well enough to sing on their own demo. You'll have to learn songs
that you've never heard, and sing them in a way that pleases you and the
songwriter. This is a real good way to gain experience as a studio singer.

What you'll earn: You'll earn $10-$50 per hour.

6. WORKING AS A BACK-UP SINGER


Many aspiring singers love the idea of becoming a back-up singer.
After all, as a back-up singer, you don't have to be the main focus of an
audiences attention. Also, you don't need to be as good a singer to get
hired to do back-up. WRONG! If you want to get hired as a back-up
singer by a major recording act, you need to be a great singer!
However, singing back-up is a good way to become used to singing
for large audiences. It will be easier to relax on stage, and you'll learn alot
by watching the lead singer.
You'll get hired as a back-up singer by submitting your demo tape
and going to auditions. If you're looking for this kind of work, be sure to
follow all leads and respond to all ads.
A few years ago, a couple of my students saw a tiny classified ad in
the Oakland Tribune. The ad basically said "Band needs back-up singers."
They didn't think much of the ad and neither did I. We both figured it was
some garage band that was going nowhere. After all, Oakland California
isn't one of the world's major music centers.
When they showed up at the audition they were blown away. This
"band" turned out to be a major recording artist signed to CBS records.
They auditioned and two weeks later they were on stage, in front of a huge
audience. They had a great time singing with this artist, and I suspect they
were well paid.
Another one of my students recently had an interesting experience
when she auditioned as a back-up singer for a local band. She show up at
the audition with demo in hand. But they didn't even listen to her demo.
Instead they studio her in a recording studio and had her sing back-up to the
bands first single. She was shocked. It just goes to show that you never
know what will happen at an audition.
When you start looking for work, you might as well look for work as
a back-up singer, while you're looking for other kinds of work. It can pay
well, give you valuable experience, and be a whole lot of fun!

What you'll earn: With a small time band you'll probably work for free.
With a well know act you'll earn up to $200 per hour.

7. RECORDING AND SELLING CD'S


This is the most challenging and the best paying gig of all. You can
either record your own CD and sell it yourself, or you can try to get a
recording contract and have the record company sell your CD's. Most
artists go for the recording contract, because record companies can
generally sell alot more CD's than the average singer ever could. You'll
learn more about getting a recording contract later on in this book.
Annie DeFranko took the do-it-yourself approach and sold 300,000
CD's while touring the United States and singing in coffee houses. Let's
say she charged $12.00 per CD. Since she recorded her CD's in her living
room so her expenses were very little. That brings her earnings to well
over $3 million. That's pretty good. If she had sold 300,000 CD's while
signed to a record company, she would have been lucky to earn $500,000
and she could have been dropped by the record company, because they
don't consider sales of 300,000 to be very successful or profitable.
Which ever route you choose, you'll need high quality, radio oriented
original songs. Recording a CD will be one of the most demanding things
you have ever done, but it can be tremendously rewarding, financially and
emotionally

What you'll earn: If your CD's don't sell, you'll earn nothing. If your CD's
sell well, you could earn millions.

Working for free, or close to it


I recommend volunteering your services whenever and wherever
possible, just to get experience. Once you get established, it will be easier to
get paid gigs.
Many singers who begin working for free, or very little, soon find
themselves with paying gigs. Janis Joplin began by singing in small clubs
for $4 a night. Later in her career she was earning $30,000 a night.

Summary
It’s important to remember that looking for work as a singer is
like looking for any other job. The ones who get hired are professional
and, most of all, persistent. 
In order to find work, you'll have to pound the pavement and
use the telephone. You don’t have to be a great singer to work, you
just have to be a good detective and keep looking. Don't be too proud
to start at the bottom and work your way up. Even great singers
aren't stars in the beginning.
CHAPTER 20

HOW TO RECORD YOUR


FIRST DEMO CD
The first step to becoming a working singer is to record a demo
(demonstration) CD. A demo CD is to a singer what a portfolio is to a
visual artist. It's a calling card which represents you at your best. When you
tell someone in the music business that you are a singer, the first question
they'll usually ask is “Can I hear your demo?” If you don't have a demo,
you may not get a shot at what they have to offer.
When you start auditioning for bands, you'll find it a lot easier to
audition when the band has heard your demo prior to you getting on stage
and singing for them. You won't feel such a need to prove yourself, and
you'll give a better live performance.

The steps required to produce a quality demo are:


Step 1. Pick the songs you're going to record.
Step 2. Find the backup musicians.
Step 3. Rehearse the songs.
Step 4. Find a recording studio.
Step 5. Record your demo.

Lets take a look at each step:

Step 1. Pick the songs you are going to record.


You'll need three songs that are somewhat varied in style. At least
one of the songs should fast. The last thing you want is a demo with three
slow songs on it.
Pick songs you love and that are easy for you to sing. Try to find
songs that really show off your voice

Step 2. Find the back-up musicians.


There are basically three ways you can provide back-up music:
1. Find a piano player, guitarist or keyboardist and have them
accompany you in the recording studio. They should charge around $50-
$100 per song to rehearse and record with you.
2. Find a band and pay them to accompany you in the recording
studio. A good band will charge between $100-$300 per song.
You can find bands and musicians by calling music stores, placing
ads in publications that musicians read, putting up flyers in music stores and
talking to all of your friends. Many times the recording studio you choose
will be able to help you find musicians.
3. Use your Karaoke tape or CD. This is the cheapest way to record
your demo, but it's illegal. Karaoke tapes and CD's are copyrighted and it's
illegal to make copies of copyrighted material. But I will tell you, that
many singers do record their demo with Karaoke background music. The
quality is very good, and the cost is low.
Step 3. Rehearse the songs.
You can rehearse with a practice tape that your musicians make for
you, or with your Karaoke tape. Practice the songs until you can perform
them in your sleep. Do not go into the studio with a song you barely know.

Step 4. Find a recording studio.


For your first demo, you'll need the use of a 4, 8 or 16-track studio.
If your keyboardist or other musician friends are not able to recommend a
recording studio, look under “Recording Studios” for your particular city
on Google. Call different studios and explain your needs. Visit the ones that
sound good, and when you find one you like, book the recording session.
You should plan on spending $25-$50 an hour for a good studio. You can
spend up to five hundred dollars per hour for a recording studio, but for
your first demo, you would be wasting your money.

Step 5. Record your demo.


The recording session will take place in three parts.
Part 1. First, the engineer will record the instrumental tracks (either
your keyboardist’s or band's performance). Sing along to be sure the
tempo (speed of the song) and style are right.
Part 2. Next, you will record your vocal tracks. Your focus should
be on singing the song with maximum emotion. The engineer will help you
decide which performances are good. If you sing the song well, except for a
small mistake or two, the engineer can “overdub” the part that needs
correcting so that you don’t have to sing the entire song again.
Part 3. Next, the engineer will "mix" the song. This is where he
takes the instrumental tracks and the vocal tracks and mixes them down to
your final cassette. You now have your demo!

Tip
When you sing your vocal tracks, you will be wearing headphones
while you're singing into the mic. Be sure that you hear in your headphones
sounds great to you. If something is too loud or too soft, tell the engineer
to adjust it. If you are happy with the "headphone mix", you'll sing much
better.

Summary
Consider your first couple of times in the studio as learning
experiences. The mistakes you make will enable you to do better work
in the future. After many years of singing in recording studios, I still
learn something new each session.
Once you have your demo, you'll be able to enter a whole new
league in the music industry. You can send your CD or MP3 file to
bands, recording studios and record companies. Your opportunities
for success will be increased greatly because more high level people will
be able to hear you.
CHAPTER 21

GETTING
A RECORDING
CONTRACT
A recording contract is the ultimate dream of most singers and
musicians. It signifies a certain level of success. However, a recording
contract does not guarantee success. Many bands and singers have been
signed, but when their CDs didn't sell, the record companies dropped them
and they were never heard from again.
If you're interested in pursuing a recording contract, here's what you
need to know:

Music as a business
Music has an artistic side to it, and a business side.. If you want to
make money as a recording artist, you need to understand how the business
side works.
The music business is a multi-billion-dollar industry. If you
understand where the money comes from, and where it goes, you'll have a
better chance of prospering as a singer.
The dollar flow starts with the consumer. They buy your recordings
and part of that money goes to the record company. The record company
then gives you a portion of what they get. The more people buy your
records, the more money you make. If nobody buys your CDs, the record
company will probably drop you because you aren't earning them any
money. If millions of people buy your CDs, the record company will treat
you like God.
The money you earn from concerts or club performances will be
little to none, in the beginning. Record companies look at concerts as a
way to promote record sales. Concerts usually aren't profitable until you've
been around for a few years and have a big following. When you're selling
out stadiums, the profits become significant. For example, The Rolling
Stones' Tours often earn over $300 million.
As you can see, it's a money game. The record companies are in
business to make money. They aren't in the business of developing talent.
They sign fully developed artists with the hopes of making huge profits.
The most important thing to remember is this. If you have a sound
that the public likes, you can't lose. They will buy your CDs and you'll get
paid.

What does it take to get a recording contract?


One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is "How do I
get a recording contract?" Believe it or not the answer is relatively simple.
Before a record company will sign a new artist, three elements must be
present. The artist must have a radio quality voice, contemporary hit songs,
and a good stage act. If any of these elements are missing or
underdeveloped, you probably won't be able to interest a record company.
Let's look at each element:

1. Radio quality voice: This is what we've been working on. A


voice that is rich, powerful, emotional and unique. It's a voice that sounds
good on CD, and that people like. Your demo must show that you have a
radio quality voice. It takes most beginning singers five to ten years to
develop their voice to this level. However, I did have one student who got
a recording contract after singing for just three years.
2. Ten to twelve contemporary hit songs: Record companies are
only interested in hit songs, because hit songs are needed in order to sell
records. Marginal songs don't sell. If you wonder what a hit song is, listen
to the radio.
You should plan on writing these hit songs yourself. Most of the
songs on the charts were written by the singers, or bands the singers are
with. A very small percentage of singers are able to get record deals
without bringing in hit songs, but it's rare.
You can learn to write songs. Just read my book, Anyone Can Write
Songs

3. Good stage act: If you can get on stage and hold the audience's
attention for an hour, you have a good stage act. Record companies will
come to the clubs where you're performing to see how you are with an
audience. Learning The 7 Secrets to Great Performing will help you
develop a good stage act.

How do you know if you're ready to look for a recording contract?


Take a look at yourself as a marketable package. Are you strong as a
singer/songwriter, but weak on stage? Then work on your stage act before
trying to get a record deal. Make your presentation as solid as possible
before approaching record companies.

The first step in pursuing a recording contract


What do you do once you're ready to start looking for a record deal?
You need to "shop" your demo. Shopping your demo means mailing or e-
mailing MP3 files to record companies. If someone likes your demo,
they'll want to see your stage act. If they like your stage act, they may
make you an offer.

How do you get record companies to hear your demo tape


If you really want a recording contract, you'll have to work to get
your tape heard. Fly to Los Angeles or New York and get a cheap hotel for
a week. Start calling and visiting the record companies. Your goal is to
get anyone to listen to your tape, but your prime target is the A&R person
(Artist and Repertoire).
Another common approach is to have an entertainment attorney shop
the tape for you. These attorneys are easier to reach than alot of the record
company people, and you'll need one eventually to negotiate your contract.
They usually take a percentage or your earnings, on top of charging you an
hourly rate, but it can be worth it in some cases.

Anecdote
Eric had been studying with me for about a year and had developed
himself to the point of being marketable to record companies. He worked as
a waiter at a small Mexican restaurant in San Francisco. The owner of the
restaurant liked his music, and offered to manage him.
Eric's new manager knew nothing about the music business, but he
did know that in order to succeed, Eric needed a record deal. So the
manager flew to L.A. and began taking Eric's demo to record companies.
I'm sure a lot of doors were slammed in his face, but he managed to see
someone at Sony Records. Sony loved Eric's tape and offered him a record
deal.
Eric's manager then went to CBS records, using Sony's offer as a way
to get in. He told CBS that Sony made a great offer and wanted to know if
they wanted to hear Erics tape. They did!
Then the bidding war began. In the end CBS offered more than
Sony. After that Eric's manager didn't have any trouble getting in anyone's
door.
You can get your tapes heard, if you use the phone and beat the
pavement. The record companies have to listen to new artists in order to
stay in business. They're always looking for new talent.

If the public loves you, you've got it made!


The most important factor in this equation is how the public responds
when they hear your CD or see you perform. If most people get excited,
your success is inevitable. There's money to be made and somebody will
see that and invest in you. If the public likes you, you'll sell CDs and
concert tickets. If you do that, you are a money earner. Record companies
earn their money by signing money earners.
If the public doesn't respond well to you, you need to figure out why
and make some changes. If you please the public, the record companies
will eventually be banging on your door, making offers.

Summary
If you have the three elements described above, getting a record
deal isn't that difficult. Your challenge will be to develop yourself to the
point where the public and the record companies feel you are ready.
That's the hard part.
PART 6
INSPIRATIONAL
STUFF!
CHAPTER 22

HOW TO ACTUALLY
ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

People who want milk should not seat themselves in the middle of a field in
hopes that a cow will back up to them.
Elbert Hubbart
Writer, early 1900s

The most important thing you can do is to act. Do something! Get


started! Thinking about becoming a singer will not make you a singer.
Waiting to be discovered will not get you discovered.
The following three exercises will help you to reach your goals.
These exercises are as important as anything you will learn in this book.

1. Write down your goal.


When I take on a new student, I have them write out their goals and
bring them to their first lesson. My students often remark how difficult this
was to actually do. Some students aren't able to write down their goals at
all. It stirs up all kinds of emotions. Their old self is being challenged by
a new creative and brave person.
Get a 3X5 card and write down your goal as an "I am" or "I have"
statement. For example: "I am singing three nights a week for large
appreciative audiences and am earning $300 per night." Put down what
you really want to be doing, be realistic, and include the date by which you
expect to be accomplishing this goal. Most things we want to do we can
do, if we are willing to put in the work.
If the date arrives and you haven't achieved your goal, get another
3X5 card and write out your goal again with a new date. Keep doing this
until you reach your goal. My experience with this exercise is that I usually
reach my goals, but not on the first projected date.

2. Spend 15 minutes per day visualizing yourself having achieved your


goal.
Olympic athletes have successfully used visualization for years.
Here's what you do:
Find a quiet place and get comfortable. Imagine yourself where you
want to be, doing what you want to be doing. This is a fun exercise
because while visualizing, you are living your dream. See yourself on stage
and in the recording studio singing your heart out.

3. Replace all negative statements and thoughts with positive ones.


In our culture it is totally acceptable to whine and talk about how
inferior we are, how we keep getting bad breaks, etc.. Our friends usually
just nod their heads and try to give us comfort. The problem is that all of
this negative talking and thinking is very destructive. If we expect negative
results and events in our lives, we'll probably have them.
I understand this because I have been the king of whiners for most of
my life. However, once I began replacing my negative thoughts and
statements with positive ones, my life improved dramatically. I instantly
had more friends, and these new friends were also positive people who I
really enjoy. My daily life became much more satisfying and enjoyable.
The exercise works like this: Let's say a thought pops into your head
like "I could never be good enough to sing professionally." You need to
counteract that poison with a statement like "I am a powerful, successful
singer whom audiences love." Say it out loud. Make any statement you
like as long as you start with "I am" or "I have," and as long as it's a
positive statement.
You may feel a bit uncomfortable the first few times you do this, but
after awhile you'll probably begin to enjoy it. It feels much better to
verbalize your dream than to talk about how bad things are or will be.
Remember, you'll generally get what you expect, so expect the best!

If you can dream it, you can do it!


Last week as I was windsurfing under the Golden Gate Bridge, waves
crashing on the rocks behind me, I realized: Hey, I'm actually doing it!
Eight years earlier, I had a belief that I could never windsurf.
Someone told me that if I didn't start in my early twenties, I could never
learn and I believed them. But here I was, racing along, jumping waves,
and shouting with joy.
The first few times I tried windsurfing, I wasn't very good, but it was
so much fun that I kept doing it. Eventually I improved, through
experience and lessons.
That taught me something: I can learn most anything, if I find
someone to teach me, and then keep doing it. That sounds so simple it's
boring. But there is one more element here. I kept windsurfing because it
was fun! If I hadn't loved it so much I would have quit.
When I wrote my first book, I had the same experience. I wrote
because I had a strong desire to write, not because I thought I had to
practice writing, or should produce a book. I did it because I enjoyed
writing the book.
I believe that if we figure out what we really want, by listening to
those quiet voices in our minds and hearts, and then try it, the rest will take
care of itself. The hardest part for most of us is listening to the ideas, and
not killing them with negative thoughts like: "I could never do that," "I'm
too old," "I could never get the money," "people won't like me," etc.
When an idea comes up, nurture it like a tiny flower. If you stomp on all
your seedlings, you'll have no garden.
You won't be able to figure out all the angles and outcomes before
you start. So just start, and you'll discover solutions at each turn of the
road. The universe has an amazing way of solving problems for those who
jump in with both feet.
When I quit my safe corporate job to pursue my singing career, I
had no idea how I would be earning a living after my savings ran out. But
things always worked out. One opportunity led to another, and I was
forced to develop skills I would have never developed under the safe
umbrella of "The Corporation."

The more mistakes the better


Once there was a young man who desired success but had no idea
how to achieve it. He had a neighbor who lived up the hill who was very
successful. He owned houses, boats, planes and corporations. This young
man wanted to be rich like his neighbor, so he decided he'd pay him a visit
and find out how he became so successful.
When he arrived at the man's mansion, he was invited into the study.
The young man began his questions. "How did you achieve your high level
of success?"
Being a man of few words, the older man replied, "Good decisions."
"How did you learn to make good decisions?" the younger man
asked.
"Experience," the older gentleman answered calmly.
Feeling somewhat frustrated, he almost shouted, "Well how did you
get experience?"
He looked the younger man straight in the eye, paused for what
seemed like an eternity and spoke these two simple and powerful words.
"Bad decisions."
This left the younger man totally confused. "How could you achieve
so much by making bad decisions?"
Tho older man replied with great enthusiasm, "Bad decisions are my
greatest teachers. They hurt, emotionally and financially. Mistakes cause
me to do things differently the next time. We aren't born with all the
answers. We can rely on other peoples wisdom some of the time, but if we
are entering uncharted territory, we have to risk, fall and learn. There's no
other way! All great discoveries come from venturing into unexplored
territory. You cannot achieve greatness by following someone's safe path."
The younger man left the mansion somewhat dazed, but relieved. He
realized that all the effort he had been using to try to be perfect was in vain.
Mistakes were great teachers, and he vowed to live life in a way where
mistakes were frequent and honored. The younger man grew to be happy
and successful.

From now on, 20 mistakes per day


I've lived much of my life with the deadly disease called
perfectionism. In everything I did, I had to do it perfectly, or I would feel
like a failure. What ended up happening is I would always make mistakes
and then beat myself up for not being perfect. It was a hellish life and I
avoided doing new things in which I was sure to make mistakes.
One day I was on the phone with one of my most supportive friends,
an 89 year old woman of great wisdom. I was complaining about my latest
mistakes and how bad I felt about making them. What she told me changed
my life. She said "John, I'm giving you the assignment of making at least
20 mistakes per day. This is to be your goal and when you achieve that
goal you have succeeded."
I felt relieved after our conversation. The pressure was off. I didn't
have to be perfect anymore. I looked at mistakes as being good.
Now when I make my first mistake of the day, I say to myself "Good
job, only 19 more to go." I feel light and successful instead of heavy,
depressed and self-berating. I am willing to do more new and scary things.
I no longer feel the intense fear I used to feel. Life is much better!
So now, I am giving you the assignment of making at least 20
mistakes per day. When you've done that, you've had a good day, full of
risking and living.

Do you want to be comfortable or do you want to be happy?


While you're working towards your goals you'll probably experience
alot of discomfort. It isn't easy breaking out of a safe lifestyle. You will be
continually challenging all parts of your being. But you'll be happy!
Most people choose comfort over happiness. It's human nature.
However, comfort becomes very uncomfortable when a dream is being
crushed. I know this from personal experience. Go for your dream and
you'll find happiness and satisfaction!
CHAPTER 23

MORE REALLY COOL


SUCCESS STORIES

Once there was a small boy who loved playing soccer more than
anything in the world. Everyday after school, he would get together with
his friends and practice. As he grew older, he dreamed of becoming a
professional soccer player. On his 18th birthday, his dream came true: he
was offered a position on a professional team. He was ecstatic. He played
well and his career progressed.
One night on the way home, his car had a blowout and he became
involved in a very serious accident. When he regained consciousness in the
hospital room, he discovered he was paralyzed from the neck down. He
was devastated, realizing his soccer career was over.
For three years he showed little sign of improvement, until one day
he began to move his fingers on his right hand. With time he regained the
use of both hands and arms. He began to have hope.
One of the nurses who had befriended him asked him if there was
anything he wanted, to help pass the time. He asked for a guitar. When
she brought it to him, he couldn't play. But he had 12 hours a day to
practice, and within 6 months he was playing and singing to other patients
and the staff. He found he really enjoyed this.
Miraculously, his paralysis disappeared. He regained use of his entire
body. Now it was time to leave the hospital and rebuild his life. He had to
ask himself what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. The only two
things he really enjoyed were soccer, and now singing. He wasn't able to
compete professionally in the soccer leagues so he decided to devote his
time to singing.
Now, what chances do you think he had of succeeding? He started
relatively late in life. He had kind of a strange voice. He had never been
properly trained.
15 years later, he has sold over 100 million albums. He is the most
successful male singer in the world. His name is Julio Inglesias.

The Apollo Theater in Harlem is a place where singers get started.


Once a week they have a talent contest, and up-and-coming singers go there
to test their skills. It's a huge place and performing there must be
intimidating. But what's really hard is that if the audience doesn't like you
they will start to boo, very loudly, until you're forced to leave the stage. I
don't know if I could handle that.
A young male singer decided to give it a try. He got on stage and
started to sing his song, and about 20 seconds in, the audience started to
boo. He was unable to finish the song because they were so loud. He left
the stage, humiliated.
He was down but not out. He could always go back and try again.
He did. Two weeks later he went back. This time he got halfway through
the song and the same thing happened.
Now I would have been very discouraged at this point. This young
man was certainly discouraged, but not ready to quit. He went back two
more times, only to have the same thing happen again. It wasn't until his
fifth attempt that he was able to get through the entire song without being
booed off the stage. Now that's perseverance.
If he had given up, we would not be able to enjoy his music today.
His name is Lionel Richie.
CONCLUSION
In my 25 years of teaching voice, I have seen a common denominator
among my successful students. It wasn’t talent, great looks, or parents that
gave them singing lessons at age six. What they all had in common was a
strong desire to sing and the ability to keep on pushing, no matter what the
obstacles were.
I have seen singers with incredible voices who never succeeded
because they didn’t have the perseverance necessary for success. Remember
the story about the race between the turtle and the hare. The hare had the
talent (speed) but the turtle had tenacity. The turtle won.
If you really want to be a singer, you will be! Good luck.

Contact information: bajarest@gmail.com