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Keeping Self Optimism High

On a rational level I realize that learning new skills does not happen along at an even consistent stairway of progression. Emotionally, sometimes I find the rational side of my brain at odds with my emotions. I go from feeling GREAT like I am really learning and moving forward to feeling stuck and wondering if I have reached my own vocal peak which is so far below where I want to go that I wonder if I should just go back to bed.
I guess when Ken Tamplin and the great moderators here advise that improvements do not happen overnight this is what they are referring. Getting stuck and feeling like improvements have slowed is where will power, work and determination are the things that should be used to break free from it.
I have been wanting to somehow make the difficult jump from "backup singer" in a local band to a "lead singer" somewhere. I was told by a couple musician friends that I absolutely need to get out to other band gigs and then ask to come up and sing a song or two and do it on a regular basis. Some bands may be open and generous that way. Some are not. Honestly, that bold move scares the daylights out of me. No prior rehearsals, no familiarity with said bands, I have to ask & then if they say yes just do it on the fly and do it well enough so someone will like my voice well enough to want me in a band. I can't mess that up or I could be black balled. It also means I have to have a few songs in my head ready that I can nail in any situation & that any musician would know how to play. What should those be? I have piles of backing tracks that nobody knows. I have to change that. I have to learn some new stuff and then get completely brave, confident and vocally skilled. That is hard to do.

Comments

  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,848Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited August 7 Vote Up0Vote Down
    What would be an ideal situation for you would be "Jam Night". I don't know if they have those where you live, but where I am, in the circuit I've been playing, it's a common thing. In fact, almost half of the gigs I do, the band does the first two sets, and then we invite people to come onstage and sing or play. They sign-up when they come in the building, and then we call them up when it's their turn. They get to do 3 songs and then we thank them and call someone else up. Some are great, some are terrible, many are in-between. Sunday is jam night around here.

    When we have finished going through the list of jammers, we (the house band) finish up the night.

    Most of the vocalists or musicians bring print-outs of their 3 best songs with the lyrics and chords on them, just in case nobody knows their songs. Many of them are regulars, so we know what they will want to play and have it memorized already.

    Something like this would be a way for you to regularly get in front of an audience and present yourself as a lead singer.

    In some parts of the country, this is called "Karaoke with the band". You might google that and see if there is any place within driving distance for you to check this out. You may need to look around to find such a situation that includes the genre you want to sing. Some might be heavily into Country music, Jazz, Rock, or Blues, or something specialized like that.

    One good thing about events such as "Jam Nights" is that lots of musicians come, so they can step up on stage and get a quick "fix" of applause on a night that they aren't booked. So you have a chance to meet people who play. But many of them come because they aren't in a band and they want to play. But, again, those are people who might be looking for a singer, to start a new band.

    So there you go.
  • CherieCherie Posts: 91Pro
    edited August 6 Vote Up0Vote Down
    That is a great suggestion. I need to explore those possibilities in my area. I have heard of some open mic nights. I need to take a step like that which is definitely outside my comfort level. My way of coping with performing shyness has been relying on the comfort level of many, many rehearsals in the Tribute band before we ever performed anything. I absolutely know that seeking more impromptu types of experiences will help me in so many ways as well as using those opportunities to try to employ the new techniques I am trying to learn here.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,848Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    It helps to get to a point where you are willing to step out into the unknown. You DO want to know what key you do the songs in. Nothing is worse than being onstage and having no clue what is going on regarding the key. A song that you know well becomes instant Hell if the band (or karaoke track) is playing it in a completely wrong key for your voice.

    My band gets requests for songs we've never done before all the time. If someone can come up with the lyrics and chords on a phone or printout, we'll give it a shot, live and unrehearsed. Kind of a "stump the band" kind of thing. The audience is very forgiving if we derail and crash. If we prevail, they know we're doing it by the seat of our pants and show their appreciation. It's controlled chaos. You can learn a lot from that kind of environment.

    Some places aren't nearly that forgiving.

    Our job as the house band is to make the guest singers and musicians look as good as we possibly can. The audience likes the daredevil aspect of all of us performing without a net. It helps you to loosen-up and take a few chances, maybe humble yourself a little, now and then. That can help with overall growth. When you hit a few bad notes, you dust yourself off, and make a note to self about that one for the future. Time to do a little homework.
  • It is funny you mention that! I have a guitarist friend who told me that I MUST know the keys of the songs I sing or the musicians will hate me. Well, I am not a musician. But if I google the original songs on the internet I think I can, at least, find out what key the orig song was written and then pray the internet info is correct. So.....I have googled a few songs as to the 'key'. Also, internet info often states the BPM too. I am guessing that would also be helpful for timing.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,848Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Yes, but a lot of musicians will ignore the BPM. Just make sure that the "Key" you quote to them is the "Key" you've been practicing in.

    There isn't much that is worse than just starting out a song and suddenly realizing that you have NO IDEA how to get in key with it.... AND the spotlight is on you, and there's about 3 minutes and 50 seconds left to go in the song...

    Knowing the Key, and having practice tracks that are in that key, will help you to avoid that fate. You can generally do a YouTube search on most karaoke songs and specify the key to get the results you want. You can also play the original artist's track, hum, and match a few of the melody notes on a piano, then play your practice track and make sure they match.
  • I have bought nearly all of my backing tracks on iTunes, mainly because it is easy. 99% of the time they are in the same key as the original song. I have LOTS of tracks. I have the lyrics in a binder, on my computer in documents and on my iPad. So....I think I will take a day and go online to find the key of each one. Then I can just add that info to my documents! There are songs I would like to learn (often originally done by a male) where I would need them in a higher key but I have not explored that ground yet. I found a backing track website the other day where you can buy the track and change the key so I thought I would try it. I think the song was $1.99. I changed the key up and bought it. Once I listened to it, it sounded a bit weird. I didn't really like it at all. It is difficult to find really great sounding backing tracks. I always feel like, OK, this is alright for practice but what I really want are kind hearted, breathing musicians.
  • @Cherie Do you play an instrument?
    If you practice with a piano or guitar, it's easier to be aware of the key because you have to play the chords. It will also make you more familiar with all the songs because you know the underlying chord progressions. Sure, some songs are more complex, but with most songs you only need an understanding of the basic chords when you are singing.

    It can be very useful to guide yourself with an instrument, IF you can do both at the same time. One of the two (singing or playing the instrument) has to go pretty much in auto mode.

    All the best,

    Ben
  • @bentk I started taking piano lessons and most recently, violin! I always wanted to be able to play those instruments so, even though I am late beginning I decided to just do it! I can't really claim to actually play them yet! I am still a complete beginner. It's interesting that you brought up the subject of chords though. I was thinking about that the last couple of days and decided that I need to concentrate much more on music theory especially chords! I have lots of things to practice these days and not enough time in the day! I think I probably should set up a dry erase board, lay out a practice routine and then give myself stickers or something when I get it all done each day! The problem, as an adult, with stuff like this is that it is so easy to let daily responsibilities interfere.
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