English · Tips

5 Reasons Why You Should Make Singing A Habit

Man singing in to microphone
via freerangestock

Singing isn’t just for a cappella enthusiasts and aspiring YouTube musicians. Did you know that belting a few tunes several times a week actually improves your well-being?  Here are five reasons to start harmonizing today:

  1. Starting is a snap

Unlike most introductions into the world of music, singing requires no equipment – no instruments, no instrument cases, no instrument cleaning solution – you get the idea. All you need is yourself. You don’t even need a vocal coach to start singing. Sing in the shower, in the car, at karaoke with your friends. If you need some motivation, joining a choir is a great first step. Go online and check for music groups in your area. Chances are, there will be multiple choirs to choose from. Want some free instruction? YouTube is your one-stop shop for singing tutorials, including tips on how to read music, breathing techniques, songs for beginners, and more.

  1. Singing is a workout

You may not be running, but your body does work hard when you sing. Choirs and vocal coaches often take special care to emphasise proper breathing techniques. Singing is an aerobic activity, which means that it’s good for your lungs and heart. Holding notes helps increase your lung capacity, which means you’ll be less winded in other physical activities. A healthy heart lowers your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Though there isn’t much movement involved, many singers compare the feeling of singing to yoga, only without the sweat and complex contortions. If you want to attempt both simultaneously, Los Angeles has started a vocal yoga trend. Are you up to the challenge?

  1. Sing Well, Feel Better

Singing doesn’t stop at physical benefits. With your heart rate up and your lungs working hard, your body releases stress and produces endorphins, those feel-good hormones that elevate your mood. Singing by yourself is well and good, but if you sing with others your emotional health benefits tenfold. Singing with a group develops a sense of community, of belonging. The group dynamic goes even further, as researchers in Sweden discovered that as people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize. How cool is that? Singing is even used as therapy for people with cancer, dementia, and stroke survivors. Next time you’re feeling down, sing a few happy tunes to feel more upbeat.

  1. Build Confidence, Note by Note

Did you know that singing could help you lessen your fear of public speaking? When you sing, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps alleviate stress and anxiety. Oxytocin also increases feelings of trust, which bolsters confidence in not only yourself but in those around you. Now this isn’t to say that people who sing never get nervous. But the more you perform an activity, the more the activity’s actions become habit. Just as your body responds to your nerves before singing, your body will mimic that response when you’re confronted with public speaking. Soon you’ll find that speaking in front of an audience isn’t as terrifying as you originally thought.

  1. Expand your mind

Not only is your voice the most portable instrument out there, it is also the most versatile. Singing regularly opens your mind to new composers and musicians, new styles of sound, and consequently, to new ideas. Learning activities such as singing help create new neural pathways in your brain. These pathways allow you to process the world at a deeper level. If you find that you truly enjoy singing, perhaps you will try your hand at a career in the music or entertainment industry. You could work for a radio station, or a recording studio. If you also have a talent for languages, perhaps you could work for a subtitling company. Maybe you could even direct your own choir one day. The possibilities are endless.

Article by Amanda Clarke

English · Tips

Confession #2: How To Stay Motivated

Blog 2 image

It’s been said over and over and over again – Plan, plan, plan!  Planning is key for anything you want to achieve in life.  This is so, so true and although we know it’s true, we keep neglecting to do it! (myself included!)

I want to put a new spin on the planning concept though, because I think there are more benefits to be had than the obvious ones…

We all know that motivation starts with the vision.  Your motivation is at its peak and it gets the ball rolling.  “Yes, let’s do this!”  The absolute last thing you want to do is plan at this stage—  “I just want to get stuck in man! Time is ticking!”

But planning is THE key to maintaining that motivation throughout the project period.

Let me illustrate by way of example.  I have had my own home recording studio for a number of years now, and the problem I constantly fight, is the urge to want to get stuck into recording a song idea without first clearly laying out the song structure.

It’s so easy these days to make a track from nothing.  With the advent of MIDI, laying down a complex piano piece, synth or cool beat has never been easier.  But more likely than not, if you dived straight in, without concern for the overall structure and feel of the song you’re trying to create, you’re simply not gonna be happy with the final product.  This is because inevitably you get carried away with this cool riff here and that cool riff there that you eventually lose sight of the song.

Bear in mind, this is after hours and hours of work.  When you have spent the greater part of a weekend on a song and aren’t happy with the outcome this can only lead to demotivation.  Suddenly your dream of making a kick-ass song that got you so fired up in the beginning is now lost and you wallow in your sorrows for the next few days.

Guess what?  You’ve just wasted the greater part of a week sulking and not being productive.  Maybe you even re-visited your track with more time spent and more demotivating results.  This time could’ve been spentproductively in planning.

Planning of course will have proved fruitful in the tracking stage – if you know the song structure, you know which instruments to use and where to place them to create the feel you’re going for.  This hands-down beats trying every instrument in the book and every placement under the sun.  Better still, after the week or so spent planning and tracking, you now have a completed song that you’re proud of.  But that’s not the best part.

The best part comes as a result of effective planning, and as a result of a finished product you can be proud of:  continued motivation!  That same motivation you had at the start of the project you now have again because, well, you created something awesome!  You took the tools that you had, you thought about it proper and you applied it to make something great.  If anything its more motivating than the start! Instead of being a pipe dream, making a great song is now a reality and you now know you possess the power needed to do it again.

The same applies to any industry.  If you’re a painter you don’t just try every single colour in your palette and paint every single part of the canvass hoping for the best?  If you do, you’re going to make a complete mess.  Same goes for the business executive with a new initiative.  You don’t simply dive in because chances are, you’re not going to work effectively.  Mistakes will be made requiring you to put more time and money into the project than you really should have, simply because you didn’t plan properly.  A loss of time and/or money with no/sub-par results leads to… demotivation and even self-doubt!

Motivation is the driving force behind any project we set our minds to.  It’s what gets us up in the morning when it’s cold and dark outside. It’s what keeps us working whilst others are out and about partying or watching series.  It’s what makes us save and invest rather than go away on that summer holiday.  But fail to plan and you will waste time and money on an outcome that is less than desirable.  And guess what?  You’re gonna wishyou were in bed, out and about or on that summer vacation.  Because then at least you would’ve enjoyed yourself.

The lack of planning spells death to motivation and ultimately death to your project, goals, dreams and careers.

Keep the fires of motivation burning.  Never stop planning.

Sean David is a self-established music entrepreneur, singer/songwriter and journalist.