Are you a better singer than you think you are?
What kinds of feelings does that question bring up?
Are you focusing on the good things about your voice and singing or are you focusing on the percieved flaws?
Do you take time to appreciate what is going well and are you developing an optomistic view with your singing?
In this episode I offer some ideas, concepts and tools to assist you in beginning to focus on things that will help your voice improve steadily!
This episode will help reveal to you what you’re focusing on and if it is not serving you, how to change it. (-:
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 5 – Transcripts
Tell Me My Flaws
You’re listening to episode number five.
Welcome to the Inner Singer Podcast, providing tools and techniques to strengthen your inner singer, your beliefs, your confidence, your mindset. And now, your host for the Inner Singer Podcast, Mike Goodrich.
Well, hi there. This is Mike Goodrich and thanks for joining the podcast today, The Inner Singer, episode number four.
So listen, I had a student of mine recently – and this has happened a ton of times throughout the years. I had a student of mine recently tell me on her first lesson. I had seen her before, but not for years. She came in and to start off the lesson, the first thing she said somewhat sternly, “Okay, I just want to say one thing. I want to make sure you tell me the truth.”
I was slightly taken back because obviously, I’m not accustomed to lying to students. But I knew what she meant because I’ve heard that before from many, many people throughout the years.
So I said to her, “You mean about your voice, right?”
“Yes, I want to be aware of what I’m doing wrong.”
I said, “Okay, but I just want to tell you this. I listen differently. I listen differently, I hear differently and my comments are based on something that a lot of people’s comments might not be based on because I can hear what’s right for now.”
So if I say something like, “Oh, that’s great. That’s awesome,” I don’t want you to interpret that as, “Okay, I’m ready for a record deal… I’m ready for the Hollywood ball.” That’s not what I mean. What I mean is in the process that you’re in, that’s beautiful for right now in this moment. It’s excellent and you’re doing great.
So I needed to qualify that. And she got that.
But it’s really interesting because at a class that I taught recently, I also had somebody that was a terrific singer with terrific songs and wouldn’t believe it. She was constantly like, “Listen, I want you to just… tell me, I can take it. Tell me the truth. I can take it. I’m tough, I can take it. I don’t want you to be Pollyanna with me. I really want you to tell me the truth.”
All of that is well and good. That’s great. I respect that if it’s coming from the right place.
Now, with both these people, I knew well enough that it wasn’t coming from – well, it was both. But let’s just say it wasn’t only coming from an authentic place of wanting to know what they could improve. It was coming from a wiring and a belief system that runs below the level of their awareness that was saying, “I’m not good enough. I’ll never be good enough. Make sure you point out all my flaws because that’s what I want to pay attention to.” That’s really tricky.
So I want to ask you a question here and I want to see how this question lands and how it feels. I want you to reflect on how you feel when you hear the question. The question is this:
“Are you better than you think you are? Are you a better singer than you think you are?”
Give that a second. Let it land. Feel into it and see where your answer comes from. See if you can feel into where your answer is coming from.
And I’m not judging it either way. I just want you to feel into it because I see this all the time with singers that are way further along than they think they are or than they’ll own or accept because of a wiring and a programming and a belief system that is running to look only for the negative things.
And I understand that we’re wired that way for hundreds of thousands of years. We were wired to pay a tremendous amount of attention to negative events many, many years ago because negative events could mean our life. Negative events were life threatening. Positive events were just, “Okay, they’re positive events, but they couldn’t kill you.” But a negative event back in the saber tooth tiger days, that could kill you.
Saber tooth tiger could jump out, boom! Negative event. If you’re not aware of that, that’s done. That’s your last chance.
So a wiring is such that we pay particular attention to negative stuff. That’s why people are so drawn to the news and the newspapers and all that kind of thing. The media just runs like crazy with that in movies and what-have-you. It’s because that’s how we’re wired.
So we have to make a conscious choice and choose to rewire ourselves, so that we don’t just gravitate towards the negative. And from a vocal standpoint, we really need to get into the place of joy and appreciation and love of our voice and our singing and the process no matter where we are.
I can’t tell you how many students I have had over the years who have brought in a recording of somebody else’s record deal and they say, “I’ve got a song that I want to do and I really want to bring this quality that this singer has. I really want to be able to do this. I want to be able to do this, as well as artiste du jour.” And I say, “Okay, there are plenty of artiste du joir. Let me hear what they’re doing.”
It can be a man, woman, male or female. It doesn’t matter. I listen and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to the student and said, “You know, I’ve got to tell you. I understand what you mean stylistically and I like what they’re doing as well. But as far as an instrument goes, you’ve got a better voice. You just do. You have a better voice than this person that you want to be like.”
They don’t see it. They don’t feel it. They don’t own into it. They don’t step into it. Oftentimes, I say, “You know, the only difference between you and this recording artist is they own it. On some level, they believe it. They think they’re ready and they’re out there doing it. And you can tell, you can feel that it’s authentic with them. They may have been influenced by somebody, but they’re doing anybody.” “So it’s okay for you to be influenced by this,” and I’ll tell them, I’ll say, “Let me hear you do it.”
I mean, I can’t tell you, nine times out of ten, they’ll do it. I’ll say, “That’s exactly what they’re doing. That’s great.” “Yeah, but it doesn’t sound like them.” I’m like, “Well, yeah. It’s not going to sound like them. It’s your voice and it’s their voice. Your voice doesn’t sound like their voice and your voice isn’t like their voice, but what they’re doing stylistically, what they’re bringing to the party, you’re doing right now. You don’t want to sound like them. You’ve got your voice.”
“What you want to do is you want to go out there and be yourself and authentic and make somebody want to sound like you. Just be yourself.” That’s what I tell them.
It’s uncanny. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. It’s almost funny. Now, somebody brings something in. Before they even play it for me, I can usually say, “Oh, my gosh! I know exactly what this is going to be like. I know that this person isn’t going to be as good as my student.” It’s really funny. It becomes like a game.
So to get back a little bit to this, “Tell me the truth. I want to know all my mistakes. I want to know how bad I really am. Don’t lie to me,” if that resonates with you on any level (and even if it doesn’t), my suggestion is you begin to look at back at your original desire to sing no matter how recent that is or how long ago that was and feel into the inspiration behind your desire to sing. Was it even conscious?
Now, you may well sing in a band or something and somebody says, “Hey, you’ve got a sing harmony” and you reluctantly agree to start singing and trying to improve your voice, that’s probably a small percentage of people that are actually listening to this, although that could be you. And even if that is you, I suggest that you follow what we’re talking about it.
But if that isn’t you and if you’ve been singing for a very short amount of time or for a very long amount of time and you’re not being sort of dragged kicking and screaming into it, what is the original inspiration? What is the feeling behind it? What are you trying to express?
For me, I really can’t talk for you, but for me, I just like to make sound. For me, it’s funny. I’ve gotten to a point – and this has been a long time coming. I mean, really, years and years and years. I’ve gotten to the point now where I really don’t need an audience. I just don’t care.
And again, that’s good or bad. That’s just with me. Audiences are great. They’re fun. It’s really fun to perform in front of people. But I just like to make sound. I’m one of those silly guys – and a lot of the people that I grew up in the studios that I would sing in, we were all taking lessons together when we were younger. We just like to make sound. We just love the same scales and feel what it feels like in our body and the physical sensation and what it sounds like. The kinesthetic, everything about it, it’s just fun to express. It’s emotional. It’s exciting. It’s great!
So if you can feel into that and feel where is your original intent behind wanting to sing in the first place and if you resonate with this and if it was joy, if it was expression, if it was something that was just really wanting to come out and singing just felt right, what I’d love to see you do is get back into that. You don’t have to go back in time, but you want to remember why you started this.
What I’ve seen time and time again is with singers, when the stakes are getting high, they forget that this is supposed to be fun. These two people, the one gal was in a band, was a terrific singer, terrific songs, but really was wanting to know what she’s doing wrong. Like I said, that’s okay if it’s coming from the right place.
But let me just say that a better way to state that if you’re in that situation and you’re working with a teacher (and you might think that once in a while, you might say that once in a while), a better way to say that from a questioning is to ask the question. “What can I do to make this even better? Help me be even better.” It’s okay. I’ll point out what isn’t working what it should and let’s see if we can get it even better.
There’s a much different energy about, “Wow! Let’s get this even better” than, “Okay, make sure you tell me what I’m doing wrong.” I know I’m changing my tone, I’m changing my voice and I’m changing my energy because you almost wouldn’t have to because the energy behind, “Don’t lie to me. I want you to point out my mistakes and my flaws and tell me what I’m doing wrong because I want to get better,” that’s not the best way to get better.
Like I say, a better way from a brain’s standpoint is, “Wow! I’m very interested in what needs to get better, but I really want to focus on some stuff that really, really works. And then from there, I want to sidestep into the stuff that doesn’t quite work as well. And please show me how to get that even better than it is right now.”
That’s the attitude that you want to take because that gets the part of the brain that looks for things for you to look for what you want rather than, “Wow! Don’t lie to me. Tell me my flaws.” That’s a wiring that’s just looking for flaws, that’s just looking for things wrong.
And then the same people, by the way – and there’s nothing against this people. This is not a personal thing. This is a wiring we’re talking about. This is a pattern, this is a habit. This is a pattern. So there’s nothing against the people. We all do this in whatever way we do it. But this is a pattern that does not recognize the good stuff when you point it out. This is a pattern and part of this pattern is to not believe the good stuff.
So I can say to both of these people, “Wow! That was an awesome performance” or, “You sang that so well. You sang that better than the original artist. I love what you’re doing with that song.” There are going to be doubts and there’s going to be resistance to their ability to accept that statement because that statement has to go through a filter that is a wiring and a belief system that’s saying, “I’m not good enough. This person is better than I am. I’ve got to improve. I know I have flaws. This guy is just blowing smoke. He’s lying to me. I know, I know I can’t possibly be that good.”
And so that’s when I’m hitting up against. And like I say, it’s not a personality. It’s a wiring. It’s a pattern. It’s a belief system.
And so I’ve began to learn how to sidestep that a little bit. And if this resonates with you, one thing that you can do as an action step – I always like to have action steps, things that people can do right away, not just a bunch of information that leaves you thinking, “Well, that’s great. What do I do now?” That’s information, but something that you can do.
And this is going o sound oversimplified, but what you can do is you can take and you can write down every single day (and try to do it around the same time every day if you can) three things that you like or love about your voice. That will slowly begin to get you focusing on the good stuff. So three things that you like or love about your voice.
And then the other thing that you can do is if you can’t think of anything you really love about your voice or like about your voice in that moment, write down something about your life, something about music, something that you really enjoy, something that went particularly well that day, something that really get you to focus on something that’s really positive and uplifting and optimistic versus focusing on your flaws.
Focus on something that works even if it’s just, “Wow! I’ve got good pitch.” It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, just begin to focus on something that is working for you that’s a positive, optimistic thing.
The other thing I want you to do is when you sing, whether you’re rehearsing at home or before you have a lesson or whatever, see if you can get yourself in a real joyful receptive place to make some really great progress.
I’m teaching a class right now called the Inner Singer. What I suggest to the class is that find something that just always make you laugh. For me, I know exactly what that is. It’s a scene from an old Woody Allen movie called Play it Again, Sam. It’s the apartment scene. I bet if I think about it right now, I’m going to start laughing and I have to pause this thing. So I won’t allow myself to think about it too much. But you want to get something – I can see it in my mind right now.
You want to get something that always makes you laugh whether it’s a comedy show, it’s a comedy routine, it’s some kind of a bit, it’s some kind of a funny song, whatever it is, and watch that (listen to it, watch it or whatever) before you sing, right before you sing to get into a real silly, joyful fun place.
Not very many people do this kind of thing. Everybody takes this so darn seriously. You watch it in sports all the time. If a football team is down at the corner, they go in, their coach usually just reams them like crazy. If a baseball team is losing, you can see the look on everybody’s face. Everybody looks depressed and downtrodden. There’s no joy.
As a matter of fact, they don’t even allow joy. “What are you joyful about? What are you smiling about? We’re losing. What are you smiling about?” So that isn’t even sadly encouraged.
I had a job one time back years and years ago before I was teaching full-time, it was about 25 years ago. I was whistling. I remember my boss saying, “Mike, don’t whistle. It’s unprofessional.” I remember thinking at the time, “Gee! What do you mean? Don’t be happy? What am I supposed to do? The rest of the people around here just look like ‘I hate this place.’” That’s always kind of ticked me off, but I shouldn’t have been working for anybody anyway. But that’s a whole other story.
But find something that’s fun, something that’s funny, something that really makes you laugh and gets you in a different place than you might ordinarily be in when you sing.
And the other thing is before and after you sing, especially after you sing, I want you to train yourself to the minute you’re finished singing to go right to thinking about three things that went well. And I don’t care how silly that sounds or how that pedestrian it sounds or how ridiculous the things are, I don’t think care if you say, “Wow! I made it through and I didn’t forget the words,” let’s not say it in a negative way though, let’s say, “Wow! I remembered all the words… Wow! I got that note… Wow! My vibrato was really cool… Wow! My phrasing on that one phrase was really good,” I want you to start really tuning into and recognizing what is going well.
So that’s the assignment for this week. I want you to train yourself to love things about your voice and I want you to become your own favorite singer not in an egoic way, but in a very grateful, appreciative way where you get back to what’s fun and what’s joyful about this.
Now, I’m inspired to say these podcasts are totally on the fly. I have a topic. I have it right in front of me. I know what I’m going to talk about, but I do not know what I’m going to say most of the time. So having said that, if you overhear me repeat myself or give you the same exercise that I’ve given in a previous podcast, number one, feel free to let me know, you won’t hurt my feeling, but it also may mean from energetic standpoint that it’s just a really important one to do.
I will never do that on purpose, but I give these exercises to people all the time. So it was just flashing in my mind as I was giving one of those exercises thinking, “Wow! I wonder if I said this in a previous podcast.” So if I had, maybe you needed to hear it again and do it anyway, but you can always let me know and I’ll be appreciative because like I say, these are not scripted, these will never be scripted and so I may say things once or twice every once in a while that I’ve said before. I talk to a lot of people and I say these things a lot and I can’t necessarily remember if I’ve said exactly that in a podcast before.
So if I have, that’s okay. It’s probably worth hearing again. But like I say, you can let me know.
Anyway, so that is it for this week. I hope you found this valuable. Love your voice. Focus on the great stuff about it. I know you can come up with some stuff. I look very much forward to talking to you next week. Have a fabulous week. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
Thank you for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast. And please, share these with all of your singing friends and head on over to iTunes and subscribe and if you find it of value, give us a nice rating. Thanks so much.