I'm writing to you from my fabulous music studio, where I work with students engaging in music intensive-study. With the pandemic, depression and anxiety have skyrocketed, especially when it comes to practicing. Students are asking all kinds of questions, from "Why am I even trying?"to stating "I can't do this" in defeat. To be frank, statements like that are lies. They have nothing to do with technique and everything to do with fears and exhaustion. We have all been holding it together for over a year now. Buzz words are thrown around, like "self-care", "unprecedented times", "socially distancing", and "family".
What does this look like in the studio? "I'm so tired.", "I need to practice.", "I don't like the sound of my voice.", "What are some quick tips to get better fast?".... Now, a dose of reality: These are also the things I hear from students who simply don't practice; but this is different. There is a different tone, a different energy, and even a different emotion behind it. Here is where the work comes into play, whether it is a lack of practice or something else behind these thoughts and feelings.
"Eat Your Frog"
This is one of my favorite sayings. If you have a plate of frogs and chocolate cake, do the hard thing first (unless you hate chocolate). Get those scales and technique exercises out of the way. I know singing your favorite song at the top of your lungs is the best, but without technique work.... well, you know.
"Mama said there'd be days like this."
We all know that every day won't be perfect. That's ok. There are many others going through this. Reach out to other singers and find out what they do for singer-self-care. I like to always have two new songs to work on: one I LOVE (for fun), and one that challenges me (for progress). Don't forget your practice space. Make it CUTE! I legit have purple sequined curtains in my studio. Yup, it's amazing because it' MINE! There is no way I can be anything but happy looking at them while I practice like I'm a rock star.
"More pain, more gain." Wait... what?
Ok. I personally think this quote is stupid because singing and progress shouldn't be painful, but you get the idea. There's a reason it got your attention. This is where the tough love comes in. All of my students know that there is one guarantee in music. If you practice you will get better. If you don't, you won't. It's that simple. As much as we have going on, there is nothing like the feeling of progress. I don't always like to practice, so I put whatever I need to in place to set myself up to, as Nike said, "Just do it."
All in all, it's about mindset. If you're feeling like you're at the bottom of the well with no ladder, I HIGHLY recommend "The Music Lesson." Victor Wooten does an amazing job of helping you reset your mind to focus on the musical experience, as opposed to the notes. Check it out here. (P.S. - Support small bookstores anytime you can. Amazon has enough money.)
Love and Light,