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Thursday, May 24, 2012

If I can sing you can sing...

When I was around 15 years old I decided that I wanted to sing. My goal up to that point had always been that I just wanted to be a songwriter. I'd had no intention of singing my own songs. I wanted to find "singers" to sing them. Like most things though I realized that if you want it done you have to do it yourself…

My mom heard me start to sing around the house, and she told me point blank "you have no chance of ever being a singer". Looking back I don't blame her much …I was HORRIBLE. My tone wasn't pretty, my notes were off pitch. There wasn't much of a starting point to encourage me from. Never the less I sang all the time.

Over about 6 years I became a little better; at least up to the point where some people might find my voice charming, but looking back I wasn't good enough that I really deserved to be singing for large audiences, and for that reason I rarely got to.

When I was 21 I moved to Nashville and decided I wanted to record my first album. Not because I wanted to showcase my singing, but because I was really proud of my original songs (which I do think were very good). A friend suggested I get a vocal coach …that moment CHANGED MY LIFE. I was lucky enough to find a very good vocal coach named Jamie Wigginton, and I suddenly realized two things: One, that almost everything about the way I had been singing up to that point was wrong, and two (and most importantly) that by practicing CORRECTLY I could dramatically improve. I practiced at least an hour a day five days a week that year while I made my first album, and I never would've been able to actually sing that material on the album if it wasn't for the coaching Jamie had given me.

Even though I improved a lot with Jamie's help I was still coming basically from zero talent, and though I thought that someday I could be a good singer I never really thought I had the ability to be a great singer …like my idols Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Marx, and Darren Hayes.

Here I am six years later. I've continued to practice almost daily doing vocal excercises in hopes to continue improving my voice and every 6 months or so I seem to have a "vocal breakthrough" moment when I find a new place in my voice that I didn't know existed before. A couple weeks ago I had one of those moments. The biggest one that's come in a long time. I was doing a audio vocal lesson by another popular vocal coach Brett Manning, and I finally found "my mix voice" which when developed is what allows male singer to hit that belting high notes ala "Journey". For the first time I  now have hope that with enough further practice I can a truly "great singer" (like my idols) as well as a great songwriter. I've been so excited ever since, and I hope that God allows me the good health to reach my personal goals in singing.

I'm writing this though for all the people who just like me love to sing, but maybe if you're willing to admit it to yourself you're not yet a GREAT singer. Singing isn't JUST something that you're born with and either able to do well or not …it's something that IF you're willing to find a great coach, and practice thousands and thousands of hours doing seemingly meaningless exercises to strengthen your voice and find the correct coordination of your vocal chords YOU can be great at! We often think "I can't sing" or "I can sing", but singing isn't just a can or can't skill …it's something that takes practice just like basketball, guitar, ping pong, open heart surgery or any other skill. I'm here to admit that I'm not naturally a very good singer. I'm "naturally" a very awful singer. The way that I sing today is the culmination of thousands of hours of learning & practice. The skills you possess aren't the ones that you were born with, but the ones that you choose to learn …even with singing ;)