I’m introducing Small Group Voice Lessons for girls grades 8-10. As with all my lessons, this time will still be chock full of great technical work and continued improvement on your child’s performance abilities.
But I wanted to really write out WHY I think this format will be SOOOOO much more advantageous to this age group...
In my coaching practice (cause, ya know, health and life coach too!) I talk A LOT with clients about the stories we tell ourselves. If you’re not aware of this idea, “stories” are beliefs or thoughts that we tell ourselves UNCONSCIOUSLY causing us to take certain actions or uphold certain beliefs, whether or not those beliefs are ACTUALLY true.
And I’ve gotta tell you, I’m hearing the same stories from A LOT of young girls.
The same stories I used to tell myself as a young performer (too big, bad voice, can’t dance, won’t ever be a lead because I’m not the “pretty” one… you know what I mean…)
A good example of a story and what the impact can be is this; if you do not think you are good at performing, you probably will not be a good performer. The reason why you won't be a good performer is not because you just won't mentally make it happen magically...
But because that belief will take hold of your subconscious and sabotage you.
This means, without a second thought as to why, you will choose not to go the extra mile and…
LOTS can go wrong when we let these beliefs lead the way!
I'm actually a great example of this because I avoided acting lessons for years. I was a good singer, I was not, in my mind, a good actor. I ended up stopping dance lessons for a while there because I was "too big" for them.
Now, neither of these things were true, but they were stories I was telling myself that kept me stuck in a place that I did not want to be in. BUT! It was a place I was comfortable with. And there weren’t any other places I felt okay learning how to be UNCOMFORTABLE.
There wasn’t a space where I could really learn who I was a performer. Where I could make mistakes and learn from them in a healthy way that also supported a healthy vocal technique.
AND see other young women doing the same thing!
So one of the reasons that I really really want to create a safe, loving, and compassionate space for girls to be taking voice lessons is because these stories make us feel so alone. We think we are the only ones who feel this way. With that comes self-criticism, shame, and frequently, a squashing of some incredible potential talent.
But being able to work together in a small intimate group on an activity that you are passionate about allows you to see that these things come up for other people too. People you might think are wonderful and "How could they possibly believe that about themselves?!"
I am not a terrible dancer, I'm not too big to dance, I’m not a bad actress, and I can play the leading lady even though I’m 5’9”. It’s just that I let that belief system take me over. And it took me a really long time to stop telling myself that story and for the right person to be able to show me that that belief was not helping. In fact, it was hurting me and my career and was not even true to begin with.
So this space I’ve created is one where other girls will come to see that dichotomy.
Watching someone else get up on stage, do their best, do the work, and be in a vulnerable and imperfect situation allows us to step into their shoes and take the same chances ourselves.
It helps us to realize that when we identify the stories in our heads, we can take a step back and say, "Oh... That's what I'm telling myself! How rude of me! Maybe I just need to take a step back and look at myself objectively and see that I'm not actually bad at this thing overall. I'm just still in a process for it.”
There are two distinct types of work when it comes to any activity you want to get involved in:
These are the two ways we, as performers, have to be taking persistent and consistent action towards our goals.
So what do I mean by this exactly?
Let’s put it in terms of food (because, ya know… health coach… and I mean really who doesn’t love food amiright?)
Think of your FAVORITE dessert. For me, personally, it’s most kinds of cake smothered in chocolate Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker frosting. You know… the cheap stuff. SO GOOD!
Cake is one of those things that, if it’s around, I will eat it all. I mean, I’m an adult, so I do have some sort of ability to control myself. But if I was allowed to without consequences? All cake all the time. Happily.
In reality, here's what happens when I have cake all the time:
Numbers 1-10 there is what I see SO. MANY. ACTORS. Do. Only it’s not with cake… it’s with shows.
Being in a show is the general application bit I was talking about in the beginning. Cake is, in reality, just calories. Calories are the way our body gets energy and life, but that’s not ALL it needs to keep running efficiently.
And shows are NOT the way to improve specific skills!
For the body to keep running in an efficient and energized manner, we need vegetables, and protein, and whole grain carbs (maybe depending on the person). We need SPECIFIC and FOCUSED types of energy to stay healthy.
And, in order for our performance to improve, we need SPECIFIC and FOCUSED work in the areas that make up our performance.
All of these are specific areas that probably have a big ol’ “NEEDS IMPROVEMENT” grade on them.
"But whenever I feel like I do really good work in a lesson, I never feel like I can do it again on stage!"
YES! THAT’S OFTEN TRUE!
And it’s kinda the point...
In my studio specifically, you’re in a very specific environment, learning a very specific thing. Often, I have taken away as many variables as possible. Leaving you with the ability to really DEEP DIVE into a super specific feeling or skill. As you get better and better and identifying sensations and recreating specific vocal environments, the muscles slowly start to learn what they should be doing (instead of going on auto-pilot with old habits).
Stepping into a rehearsal adds WAAAAY more variables. Enough that it can often feel like you’ve lost EVERYTHING you worked on.
But behind the scenes those muscles are learning how to adjust. When you keep a bit of focus on your voice, they are able to slowly, over time, actually accomplish what we want them to…
Efficient and Sustainable Singing!
But that TIME and FOCUS and SPECIFICITY cannot be skipped. Otherwise you’re only ever working on auto-pilot BUT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.
You don't need to be in three shows at a time to succeed in this business...
You DO need to be in 3 lessons, or classes, or any of those areas of FOCUS. You DO need time and space to hone in on what is working and what is not. You DO need to think of these areas of focus as long term investments.
So put down the cake. Pick up a piece of broccoli. And allow your body the work it needs in order to be the best performer you can be.
You will never be “done”. But you will ALWAYS get better (and better and better and better and…)
I have this friend. An actor friend. Really I have many friends like this but there's one in particular who has been popping up in my mind lately.
This friend (who I will call Aloysius from here on out… Al for short… no that’s not his real name…) has been an actor for many many years. With just one problem…
He's not... like... doing much of it.
You see, Al was fed this lie, like all theater people are, that in order to “make it” you must LIVE, BREATHE, and EAT theater. Everything you do must be in service to your art. Every choice you make MUST leave room for you to keep performing.
Which, considering how poorly the arts are frequently funded in this country, meant that he had two choices:
He did the thing that MANY theater artists do. He got a low paying job, just enough to pay the bills, that allows him all the time in the world to head out to auditions.
In theory… this is great! And if you have access to the perfect opportunities, exactly the right people referring you to exactly the right other people, literally ONLY do theater related activities, have exactly the right kind of job that can let you off at a moments notice to attend that audition that you just HAVE to be at (because it might be your big break)... You can totally make this work.
However... that whole paragraph I just wrote...
NEVER works out that way.
Because it doesn’t take a few things into account:
It takes a special kind of person to live that life.
And honestly, during my 10 years in NYC, I knew one, ONE person who could happily live that way. Now, he’s jet-setting around the world originating the titular role in a musical. That’s his “made it” point. He’s having a great time! But he’s left a slew of jobs in his time to go to auditions and made all sorts of sacrifices for his art. And again… 10 years in NYC… ONE person who made it work well…
The rest have realized something else. Something Al is just coming to terms with.
THE STARVING ARTIST MENTALITY IS BULL$#!T!
It’s great and all if you honest to god want to give up everything just so you can make it to another audition, buy another canvas, or do whatever you need for your chosen art form. But artists have to remember that that’s not ALL we are.
We also, like, humans? And as such we have certain physical, emotional, and mental needs that frequently think we can live without nourishing for WAAAAAAAY longer than we actually can.
I mean… really… do you want to be surviving on ramen and 2 Buck Chuck when you’re 30? There’s something fun and bohemian about it when you’re just out of college, but eventually it catches up to you.
Not to mention the PRESSURE you’re putting on your passion! Do you really expect to make the smartest career choices for your art when all you can think about is how you’re going to pay next month’s rent?
Elizabeth Gilbert puts it well in her book Big Magic (required reading for ALL artists!):
“...to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that."
Stop yelling at the cat.
Go get a job. One that pays you well. Not as a Plan B, but so you can live your Plan A. So you can go to the classes you need, take the voice or dance or acting lessons, go on a vacation once in a while, buy food that’s actually good for you, get a gym membership, LIVE SOME FREAKING LIFE!
AND be an artist.
Just... ya know... one with enough money to pay your rent.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.