Tag Archives: lyrics

Get Over Stage Fright: Embrace Your Anxiety

Get Over Stage Fright: Embrace Your Anxiety

What are some of the things that happen to you as a result of stage fright? If you’re like most people, you experience an adrenaline rush, shaky legs, and a heightened heartbeat. Typically, these reactions are not conducive to a great performance. So let’s break it down and figure out how to embrace your anxiety.

First off, make a list of the things that scare you. It can be anything from forgetting the words, to not knowing what to do with your arms, to cracking on that one hard note, to the aforementioned shaky legs. Then one by one, figure out what you’re going to do about it and how you’re going to make that anxiety work for you.

Let’s just use shaky legs as an example. Realistically, you aren’t going to be able to reliably stop your legs from shaking, so let’s figure out how to work with the issue. Let’s start with where shaky legs come from. Back before humans’ main fear was singing in public, when the concern was still about being eaten by a wild animal, adrenaline rushes and shaky legs propelled a person’s flight away from said wild animal. It’s part of your sympathetic nervous system’s response. There’s no wild animal after you anymore, but the knowledge that your shaky legs are built for flight can give you some clues. Maybe standing with your legs fully together isn’t the best idea, for example, because you might start to teeter. Maybe for the first song, you should build some motion into your performance to get your legs moving until they stop shaking.

Next, let’s deal with the fear that you’ll forget the lyrics. First off, rehearse the lyrics so much that there’s very little shot you’ll forget them if you zone out and go on autopilot. Secondly, have some memory tricks in place for if anxiety interferes with your memory the day of the performance. If you tend to mix up the lyrics that start with “it’s all so simple” and “what’s hard is simple,” use some kind of device. Maybe that both the “i” in it’s and the “a” in all both come earlier in the alphabet than the “w” in what’s and the “h” in hard. Also take a second to remind yourself that if you do forget the lyrics, as long as you sing some other part of the song with confidence, it’s unlikely most of the audience will even notice.

What about cracking? Knowing that you’ll have a higher probability of experiencing voice cracks when you’re under pressure than when you’re relaxed in rehearsal, throw in a little extra of the ingredients that help keep your voice stable. If it’s giving yourself a better anchor so that your breath support can be better, do more than you normally would in practice.

And your floppy arms, that somehow seem to manifest for the first time when you perform? Figure your arms out ahead of time. Face it. Most of us aren’t going to get up there and get so into our performance that our bodies just know what to do. If yours does, congratulations! But for the rest of us out there, we need to plan ahead. Figure out a few simple motions you might want to do with your arms, and know exactly where they’re going to be when they aren’t gesticulating, whether that’s holding the microphone or staying down at your sides.

Since stage fright for many of us isn’t going anywhere, it’s important we learn to perform under the parameters that this anxiety causes. Most importantly, know that no matter what happens, you’re going to be okay. If you crack on that note, if you forget the words, if you have the worst performance of your life, you’re going to wake up the next day having done it and can start working on making the next one a little better.

5 Tips and Tricks that Every Songwriter Should Know

5 Tips and Tricks that Every Songwriter Should Know

Here’s a guest post from our friends over at ZingInstruments.com who are almost as obsessed about drums as we are!

Songwriting is an art, but there are more than a few little hacks you can use to help you write new music faster and help you take your work to the next level. Next time you’re stuck, try out a few of these tips and tricks for songwriters and see if it doesn’t make a difference!

1. Borrow From Other Artists

Are you trying to come up with ideas for a new song, but can’t seem to find anything good? Try writing additional verses to a song you like. You can then use this as a ‘jumping off’ point for your own music without having the difficulty of starting completely from scratch.

Similarly, you could sample music from recognizable songs to build fast and effective beats without having to do all of the work. This way you get the perfect combination of familiarity, popularity and shorter writing times. Doing this at choice moments, such as for hook lines or even as a short repeating loop throughout most of a song is very common, and there’s no shame in doing it.

2. Keep a Songwriting Morgue

Keep lyrics, chord progressions and other snippets from songs that never quite got finished. Look through these every couple of months or so to see if you can’t think of a new way of using them or developing them further.

3. Make a Reference Guide

Build a ‘rhyme book’ that you can refer to as you’re writing. This can make writing lyrics much easier as you don’t have to sit and ponder the right word to use for as long. Building your own rhyme book is essential, because those used by others will have slight accents and other vocal qualities that might stop the same material working properly.

4. Avoid This Common Mistake

Never use parallel fifths. When you have two or more instruments playing a melody, don’t have both of them play a fifth higher or a fifth lower than the previous note at the same time. It’s okay to have them going in separate directions by a fifth, but parallel fifths cause the two lines to blend together and lose the independent qualities they each possess.

5. Think Inside Somebody Else’s Box

If you’re struggling to find material from your own life to inspire your songwriting, write from the perspective of another person. You could also use a fictional character instead, perhaps as part of a narrative or mythos you’ve created for a concept album. For example, Epic Rap Battles of History is a popular youtube channel featuring rap battles between various historical and fictional characters.

Remember, songwriting doesn’t have to be a completely unique exercise each and every single time you sit down to write. Rather, it’s better to give yourself guidelines that suit your own individual style. This way you still have all the freedom you need to create great new music, but you’ve also got a rough map of how you’re going to do that each time.

How to Promote Yourself and Get Clients as a Songwriter

How to Promote Yourself and Get Clients as a Songwriter

Tania Saedi, concert at Clara Blume’s Singer Songwriter Circus (“Rise & Decline”) at Dschungel Wien/MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, Austria, by Manfred Werner under CC BY-SA 3.0

The following post is written by Uche Ibe, a music blogger who recently reached out to us. Because I found this topic relevant to a lot of our students and readers, I asked him to write it for us.

It’s really frustrating, right?

You are a songwriter and you write really good songs.

People who have listened to your songs such as your friends and family tell you that you have the talent for writing awesome songs and lyrics.

But the problem is that you have not been able to get clients to hire you to write songs for them or book you as a musician.
And this is giving you sleepless nights and leaving you frustrated.

The simple truth is that if you do not market yourself and let people know about the services you offer, then no one will hire you.

It’s that simple…

In this article I will be showing you some easy ways that you can use to get your name out there and get hired for your songwriting skills

1. You Need to Niche Down and Dominate It

Before we get started on the tips to market yourself, there is something very important you need to know about.

That is, you need to pick a niche and then dominate it.

By this I simply mean, picking one genre of music and becoming a master there.

You do not want to be known as that “music songwriter.” Instead, you want to be known as that jazz or country or rock music songwriter.

By picking a niche and dominating it, you become the go-to guy when clients are looking for that genre of music.

This gives you an edge and helps you stand out amidst the many songwriters out there struggling to get by.

Action Steps

• First you need to look within yourself and figure out the genre of music that you enjoy listening to.
• Take a pen and paper and write down the top 3.
• Now try to get as many songs in this genre as possible, and listen to them. This will help you figure out the way the songs are structured and how they flow.

2. You Need to Go Digital

Thanks to technology, great audio equipment and the Internet, with a website and written content you can reach millions of people every day.

So you need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Start by getting a blog, and provide value for your fans and audience.

The keyword here is “value.”

You want to provide so much value for prospective clients that they see you as an expert and the go-to guy when they need your services.

Also, by having a website and a blog, you can upload samples of your music that people can download to assess your work.

Most importantly, you can begin to build a fan base by collecting email addresses on your website and giving then tips and advice that they can use to stay in touch with you and your brand.

By building your fan base you have an army that will spread the word about you to their friends and increase your reach.

Action Steps

• First you need to pick and register a domain name. It is advised that you go with something memorable that can be branded. You can use a trusted domain registrar like Namecheap to register your domain name.
• Next you need to set up hosting. Also go with a trusted company like Siteground or Godaddy.
• If you have no technical skills, you can hire a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr to help you out.

3. You Need to Embrace Social Media

Social media is probably the hottest thing right now.

If you are looking for the fastest way to spread your name and become known, then you need to jump on the social media bandwagon.

By having social media profiles on the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), you can easily get heard by a lot of people.

Just imagine that recently Facebook announced that they have about 1 billion active users on their platform.

That’s really huge if you ask me, and you do not need that number of people to become successful. All you need is a way to reach some of those people–preferably within your local community–so you can build up your fan base.

By posting your lyrics and songs you have completed online, you get to have people connecting with you and your brand.

Maintaining a social network presence is one of the most time-effective strategies that you can employ to get yourself known and attract paying clients to your business.

Action Steps

• Pick out the top 3 social media platforms and open an account with them. Basically, you want to go with the top 3 because they are the ones that are worth your time.
• Plan and stick to a posting schedule. You want to make sure that you are consistent in putting your work out there for people to see.

4. Get Out There and Network

This is one idea that a lot of people find very difficult.

Most people (including me) would prefer to sit in their house and do all the interactions by mail or by phone.

But unfortunately, this does not work very well.

As a songwriter trying to get clients, you need to be ready to meet people and do a lot of networking.

Now I am not advising that you travel around the country just to network. You can and should start small by meeting people around your community.

One phrase that I like so much is “It’s all about who you know.”

While this might sound like a cliché, it is absolutely true.

You need to keep your ear to the ground and go out and network with people in the same industry as you.

One thing you need to know about networking is that you want to avoid coming across as a needy or offensive.

Think about what you can offer to the other person even before you pitch your services.
This way the relationship is more of a win-win situation than a needy one.

Action Steps

• Get over your fear of networking and meeting people.
• Read newspapers and magazines looking for events and shows that you can attend.
• Start small by attending the ones within your community.

5. Pick Someone and Develop Them

This point is all about working with an upcoming artist and providing music for them, if you aren’t going to play your own music.

The advantage of this is that you get to flex your creative writing skills while using the artist as a stage to project your lyrics.

The truth is that when starting out, you are going to find it a little difficult to get noticed by the big boys in your industry.

The best way to get on their radar is to have an upcoming artist who you can easily work with sing your lyrics.

This way you are not just pitching them music; you are also showing them a complete work and how your lyrics sound with instrumentals.

This helps you become recognized as an expert and someone who they actually want to work with.

Action Steps

• Start by looking for an upcoming artist you like the genre and style of.
• Work out a comfortable arrangement with each other so as to avoid conflict later.

Conclusion

Promoting yourself is crucial to your success as a songwriter.

It is probably more important than stage performance or understanding song theory. The truth is that if nobody knows you, then nobody hires you.

So unless you are a songwriter simply for fun, then you need to take the points discussed in this article very seriously.

Bio
Uche Ibe is a passionate singer and blogger as www.welovesinging.com. He enjoys teaching people how to sing, helping them become better singers and reviewing audio equipment. You can connect with him by visiting his blog or sending him an email.

How to Sing Live Performances, Part 1

Bassnectar Live at Coachella Wknd 2.jpg, by Drew Ressler, under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

You’re in a live performance. Congratulations! Either you’re past the audition process, or else you’ve taken the initiative to find a venue to perform at. Either way, it sounds like you’re getting more serious about taking your singing to the next level. Hopefully by this point you have at least a little vocal technique under your belt, but how do you get better at performing live?

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast set of rules I can give you about how to sing live performances. Every genre, sub-genre, and performance venue has its own unique set of rules, and even these rules are malleable. In a coffee house setting, where performers sing along with their acoustic guitars, for example, you won’t sing with nearly the same larger-than-life intensity that you would need for a rock concert or for the musical A Chorus Line. But there are some strategies that can help improve all of your performances, regardless of genre. Here are some pointers to get you started, but know that learning to perform well will require flexibility, field research, and a whole lot of practice.

1. Watch Lots of Live Performances, Especially Ones in Your Genre

Trust me. There’s no such thing as getting up there and “just being yourself.” Sure, you don’t want to directly mimic someone–that would make you derivative–but every great performer builds off of things they loved about someone else’s performances. So if you want to be in musicals, watch as many musicals as you can. If you want to be a pop singer, go to as many pop concerts as possible. Go to plenty of shows outside of your genre too, so that you can incorporate a little more flavor into your performance. If you don’t have access to very many shows, take advantage of platforms like YouTube. Figure out what you love about these performances and what you don’t love so much, and borrow what you love for your own performances. At first, it may feel like mimicry, but after a while you’ll feel like you own those moves and that the performers you admired throughout your life have become a part of you.

2. Know What You’re Singing About

Know what the lyrics are about, and find a way to relate to them. This doesn’t mean you have to bury your son alive in order to effectively sing “Your Daddy’s Hands,” from the musical Ragtime. But it does mean you’ll have to dig through your own life to try to understand the kind of pain and loss Sarah must be experiencing when she sings that song. If you have no idea what you’re singing about, it’ll probably come through on stage, no matter how rehearsed you are.

3. Rehearse the Way You’ll Perform

Not every time, but enough of the time that no part of your performance feels entirely new when you get on stage. If your performance will take place seated at the piano with a microphone in front of your face, make sure you’ve rehearsed seated at a piano with a microphone in front of your face. If you’ll be performing in an opera house without a microphone, it goes without saying that you should practice without amplification so that you know how much your voice will need to carry. I made the mistake for years of going through every voice lesson using a microphone. When I showed up at auditions, I was shocked by how quiet my voice was compared to the way it sounded when I practiced, and my confidence was frequently shattered. I make sure to mic my students when they’ll be performing with a mic and have them sing unamplified if they won’t be using one. Learning the basics of microphone technique before a performance with a mic is, of course, a very good idea.

4. Practice to Exhaustion, but Don’t Wear Your Voice Out

If you can’t do it in practice, chances are you won’t be able to do it in performance. There are, of course, some rare performers who can just “turn it on” in front of an audience but who don’t practice that way. To be on the safe side, just assume you aren’t one of those performers. If you’re forgetting a line every time you practice it, there’s a fantastic shot that you’ll forget it when you’re up on stage. Sing the song until you don’t miss the line, and then sing it 100 more times. If you plan to belt the song but just can’t belt that one note, either plan to not belt that one note on stage, or find a way to belt it in practice. Of course, this is a balancing act. You don’t want to wear your voice out before a performance, so sing the song full out some of the time, and mark it the rest of the time in order to run it for lyrics and movement. If you feel your concentration slipping, take a break and come back to it later. Just make sure you come back to it.

5. Video Yourself In Practice

If you aren’t happy with the way you look performing on camera, you probably won’t be happy with what you look like performing live. Figure out what it is you don’t like, and tweak it. Video yourself until you’re happy with your performance and comfortable that that’s likely what you’ll look and sound like performing live.

Because this is such an involved post, I’ll break it into two parts. Look out for a Part 2 in the next month.