It’s not the first time a student reaches out in half panic telling me they need a singing lesson because they have a performance next week, or in 45 minutes… No pressure, though..
Vincent is a guitarist, guitar teacher and a singer-song writer. Check out Vinnie’s Vice. He performs already and takes lesson to prepare for his projects. Fair enough, not everyone can afford or even needs regular lessons, if they practice regularly at home, which Vincent does.
But then he wrote to me with a somewhat urgent tone: a concert AND a recording coming up in 2 weeks and he has work all the way up to those. He sent me recordings of a show he was not really satisfied with and wanted to fix his technique toward the upcoming projects.
I listen to his recordings: I understood where the dissatisfaction was coming from, though I didn’t think it was so bad. But we are our own worst critics.
Will I be able to fix Vincent in one lesson? That’s all he can afford time-wise and it has to be online, for he lives in the Netherlands but not in Amsterdam. I thought about it, and realized it’s not the right question to ask. The question is should I fix Vincent in one lesson. We had one week (yes, I’m busy, too), one voice lesson.
I told him: if you need a boost to your confidence, just to get things going in the right direction – let’s do it. If you are looking for a quick fix – that’s too big a pressure for you a week before a show. What you are capable of right now is good enough. Has to be. You are a good performer and the audience enjoys you. If you expect yourself to transform in one week – it will only freak you out.
He said: let’s do it.
In the lesson: Vincent did some really cool singing, and some things that needed work – as expected. Then we tried to correct the high note. It was actually fine in the beginning. Here’s a fragment of that part of the lesson.
However, being the greedy teacher I am, when I hear a sound which works fairly well but could be better, I cannot help but work on it to improve it. Only I forgot: we have a performance coming up.
Getting overexcited with what we can do with the high note, I am afraid I gave Vincent too much to think about. Knowing in the back of your mind that the show is near, it adds pressure to the exercise you would otherwise do casually in the lesson.
So I ended up telling Vincent (shamelessly) to forget everything I said in the previous 10 minutes. It’s better to keep those tips for the long-hall-training (which I know Vincent is very good at) and focus on what he could do towards the show. That is: only what is working for you immediately and effectively. If it doesn’t click right now or doesn’t give you comfort or relief – drop it. Get back to it later.
How stable are quick wins?
There are some things you can keep in mind to get an immediate result. There is a catch though. It’s not stable. It will help sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but you cannot count on it necessarily, it’s a quick fix!
And in a show – well, our body behaves differently than in normal practice space. So maybe it will work, maybe not. Worth the try for sure. But do not expect to sing dramatically different.
Take that lesson with your teacher, if you think they will give you that boost, that tip to use instantly and the right things to focus on. After that – just go on stage and give a good show.
The eye sees first, the ear hears second. Give your audience an experience and give yourself to the performance, feel the emotions, try to feel comfortable. If you do – they will. If you enjoy, they will.
What do you do before a show if you are feeling a bit anxious? How would you encourage Vincent? We would love to hear your thoughts.
PS: also check out my other thoughts about online singing lessons.