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A couple of weeks ago we had a music night with my adult private students. At Auckland Singing School, we work hard to ensure the performances happen in a comfortable and non-judgemental environment. This requires training in some aspects such as singing mindset skills.
Sharing our voices with the world can be a scary experience sometimes. Because we are quite vulnerable to it!
Plus, at Auckland Singing School we work with holistic singing lessons. Meaning that we have in mind not only the voice science aspects of what specifically happens in the vocal tract, but also how other factors have influence over it.
For example, if you are in a perceived or real dangerous situation, your throat will react by closing. That is why it is so hard to sing in public!
So when you start performing it is important that you do so in an environment that you don’t perceive (consciously or unconsciously) threatening. And for that, training your singing mindset skills will be your most powerful tool.
Every music night for private students at Auckland Singing School, we have a special theme. For this music night, we used “Bright Side Sheets”.
Well, you probably know that we are our worst critics. So for this music night, every singer had a “Bright side sheet” of paper. All the other participants were invited to write down what they like about that singer.
It is very common that singing students focus only on what didn’t go amazingly well in their performances. They tend to not notice all the things that DID go really well!
Plus, if you are focused on what is not going great you are missing out on being present in your performance and most importantly, enjoying it!
The Bright side sheet experiment had a variety of goals related to training our students’s singing mindset skills.
So comparing ourselves with other singers is not useful. The bright side sheets helped students see that they all have something very special and unique about their singing, no matter how advanced or beginner they are.
This was an event for students only, so most people did perform. So everybody had the chance to have positive feedback on their performance, but also to write their thoughts for others.
The learning experience for the listeners was to be an active listener and to be able to focus on the things they did like about each singer. Some people tend to gravitate towards what they don’t like. We have the chance to focus on what we do like. It was a nice experience to observe the uniqueness of each fellow singer.
Being present helps you be a better performer, a better listener, and a more human person without being in a constant limbo of distractions.
Of course, there were a variety of responses! Some people were very appreciative of the experiment and made the most of it. Some people however didn’t enjoy having positive feedback on their performances. And some people did not want to write for anyone.
That is OK. Some people were ready for it and some people weren’t. Maybe they will be ready next time. Mindset is a “muscle” we constantly train in singing and as with any other aspect, the progress and each person’s process is unique. And we take it at each person’s pace.
I could see that regardless of the variety of responses, the Bright Side Sheets at the very least made people open their minds a bit regarding performance and active listening. Even those who didn’t actively participate in the exercise!
As singers, part of the training is training our mindset to cope with other people’s opinions of us. People will have opinions about us, and we have to understand that personal opinions are not facts. Some people never get the courage to sing in front of others because of the fear of what other people might think. What if we were skilled enough to cope with whatever they think?
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