Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First, Do The Work

A while back, I had a great conversation with a bartender at a local jazz club.  Like so many New Yorkers, he’s a trained actor and singer working in the restaurant industry to pay his bills while focusing on his dream.  And like so many in New York and beyond, he feels he needs to be actively taking voice lessons before going out for the big auditions. 

So I asked him what he wanted to accomplish in these lessons.

“Oh, you know… to really find and develop my voice.” 

“OK.  And how often are you singing now?”

“Not much.”


This is a conversation I have again and again with singers– even professionals– who come to me with the hope of studying.  And while it’s not necessarily good for business to turn people away, it makes no sense for us to start working together unless they're already putting in a great deal of effort on their own.

That’s not to say that an outside perspective can’t be helpful before an audition or while getting into (or back into) vocal shape.  Yet weekly lessons won’t compensate for the hours upon hours of singing you need to be doing daily to properly prepare for either.  There is just no substitute for time and effort when it comes to getting to know and nurturing your instrument– and the mind that runs it– so that you can recognize and receive the proper guidance. 

This is true beyond the realm of singing.  How often do we ask for help without doing the work that would allow us to optimally integrate what we discover?  And more than that... how often do we set out to accomplish our goals without being willing to put in the effort that it takes to actually achieve them?

I can’t tell you how many singers I hear from and work with whose biggest obstacle is that they simply haven’t done the work.  Take it from me: there’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars on coaching you may not yet be able to integrate.  First, become prepared to the best of your ability.  When you know what you're bringing to the table, as well as what you really need, coaching is not only vastly more effective, but enjoyable and empowering as well.  

This article originally appeared in Psychology Today. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many hours a day/times a week specifically would you recommend? Thank you!

July 30, 2014 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Hamady said...

Hi and thanks for your note! Every person is different, and so is the amount of time we each need to spend developing our voices and getting to know them. In my experience, you'll know when you're ready to start working with someone… you'll feel vocally and personally confident to be a partner in learning, rather than insecure about yourself and your instrument, and desperate for someone to lay out a path you're afraid you can't find on your own. Hope that helps; best wishes!

July 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM  

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