Once you get a little long in the tooth, you tend to be able to see the things that “work” in life, as opposed to the things that make life harder. That’s why people over 40 can be so full of advice – they’ve often become aware of the ways and times that they’ve chosen the difficult path. Or just the wrong path. And they’re aware of the beliefs they’ve held and insecurities they’ve nurtured. The farther you get from 40 the clearer all those things can become. And at the same time you’re also becoming aware of how blurry the lines are in Real Life; how many shades of grey there are and how many opportunities we’re given to begin again.
Luckily for me, I’m a teacher by profession. Which means that I get to impose some of those realizations on others; and those people might actually hear me and benefit from my experience. Emphasis on “might”. At least they’re more likely to be polite about it.
This is probably not the last time I’ll put up a short list of things I wish people had told me when I was younger. Or maybe they did tell me and my list should be “advice I wish I’d listened to”. But in any event, a person can’t hear this sort of thing too much. Eventually some of it sticks.
Truth #1: Attitude is everything.
If you want your life to go smoothly, have a good attitude. Be the person who doesn’t complain but rather makes the best of any situation. Be the person who shows up a little early, who lends a hand, who goes the extra mile. Have integrity in your endeavors, and have the humility to fail gracefully. (Failing is how we learn, and most of the Bad Attitudes you see around you, as well as your own, are manifestations of a fear of failure.)
The person with a good attitude is a person other people like. The value of being liked and trusted cannot be overstated. Your good attitude will get you chosen for opportunities, it will open doors for you, it will lend a magical ease to your life. Not that the stuff of life won’t happen to you – of course it will – but on the whole the trajectories of your careers and your relationships will be smoother, faster, and easier.
Truth #2: Singing is a performance art.
It is not un-cool or insincere to practice in front of a mirror. You’re going to be standing up in front of people and they’ll be looking at you. You should know exactly what your audience is looking at. Practice singing in front of a mirror. By watching yourself sing you may find that some gestures that initially FEEL really weird or inauthentic actually LOOK really good. You may find that you have a little physical habit that you never knew you had; for the good or the bad. You may find your eyes dart around or realize how much you keep your eyes closed.
The upshot is that you need to be intentional in the way you look when you sing. Just as you are being intentional in the way you sound when you sing. It matters.
Truth #3: Good singers should always make The Face.
This applies to people who are reasonably good singers, and will not hold up for a beginning performer. In fact, if you haven’t clocked some time getting to be a good singer and/or good performer, DO NOT do this. It won’t help. But if you’re a reasonably good singer, you have to make The Face. When you hit a note that is even remotely on the higher side, and/or that you hold for a while, you should squinch up your face as though it’s hurting you to sing this note. Especially if it’s at or near the end of the song. Just trust me. Look like it hurts and they’ll think you’re really feeling what you sing – which is the non-singers’ definition of a good singer.
There you have the first three of what will doubtless prove to be an ever-expanding list. Try these things for a few months and see if they don’t make a difference in your experience as a singer, as well as your experience of life. You may be pleasantly surprised.