There are millions of personalities out there on this planet but when it comes to singers the best attitude is always the same: Respect
Respect for others.
Always be respectful. Yes, this is obvious but if you forget you will diminish the music. If you respect others, they will respect you and this will synergistically enhance the music that you make together.
Synergy (noun): the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Listen attentively during conversations and never be afraid to ask for clarification. For example, if someone says a word that you don’t know, you will lose some of the meaning of the rest of the conversation until you clear up the meaning of the word that you didn’t know. When you ask someone to clarify meaning it automatically tells that person that you want to understand them; this builds rapport. Learn the language of music, words like “tempo” (how fast or how slow) and “legato” meaning musical notes that are played or sung smoothly and connected.
Leave your ego out of everything. There’s a saying in the arts: “Leave your ego at the door.” If there’s a song that you want to sing a certain way, explain why it works better for you that way, perhaps it works better with your vocal range or tone or your interpretation of the song. I often see that the most experienced and professional musicians in the room are the most considerate people: They understand that to get the best from others you need to be patient, supportive and collegiate. It not only gets you coming back to more gigs, it’s just more fun!
Work with feedback. NEVER take it to heart! When someone gives you praise, respond with gratitude. When someone gives you criticism, respond with gratitude. Both praise and criticism is feedback and with different people come different perspectives. Even if you don’t agree with the feedback you get, there is often still something there you can work with.
Respect for yourself.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Most people are their own worst critics. Naturally you want to be the best you can be especially putting yourself on display in front of others. Take your time with learning songs, and just persist.
Know what you can do best. We go into more details here and here. Know your range, know which styles suit you best and have fun whatever you do so that an audience can enjoy you too.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. While knowing your strengths don’t be afraid to try out other things. You never know what might work until you try. Try a new different genre or approach a song in a way you have no intention of singing in public. Play! I like to sing songs for myself using silly accents, or sing a ballad as a blue’s number or a pop song in an operatic style, just for the hell of it! Sometimes I get surprised. Listen to Disturbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. Disturbed is a heavy metal band. S&G’s take was a quiet, deep reflection whereas Disturbed made it into an orchestral ballad now on the verge of six hundred million views on YouTube as of this post.
So do not be afraid to experiment with songs you know and love in some way. You never know how it will sound until you try it. I love this quote from one of my favourite movies, Ratatouille: “You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.” It’s the same with music. Which brings us to the final tip.
Sing (or play) for yourself first, last and only. This might sound contradictory given the importance of leaving your ego at the door but this has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with authenticity. If you feel and believe in the song that you sing first then your audience will feel and believe it along with you. Whether you’re the sole singer, lead guitarist, drummer, bassist, part of an ensemble, choir or symphony you must play or perform for your own transcendence first. Where you go your audience will go. Otherwise, no one will enjoy the music and you will be the first to know.
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