• No one belongs here more than you…

    ..I borrowed that title from a collection of short stories by writer Miranda July, (which I still haven’t read!) but I’ve always loved it. How many of us have needed to hear that now and again?

     

    Today I want to talk about imposter syndrome, a silent epidemic of self-doubt that effects many performers, both professional and otherwise. It’s the belief that you don’t really deserve the success you’ve had. Perhaps you feel that you’re going to fail publicly if you take a risk?

    I probably don’t need to point out how counterproductive this is to giving an honest performance. It’s impossible to be truly present in the moment when we are second guessing ourselves. I have witnessed this phenomenon with singers who freeze when they hear their own voice through a PA system. It’s so easy to over-listen to your voice, and fall down a rabbit hole of analysis- this distracts us from (our true task) of communicating with our audience!

    This is true for all of us– life is a pitch after all! Perhaps you need to give a presentation in your office job, but you freeze, cotton mouthed while you have an out of body experience (and not in a good way!)

    Harvard professor Amy Cuddy describes imposter syndrome as feeling like a fraud. “impostorism causes us to overthink and second guess. It makes us fixate on how we think others are judging us (in these fixations, we’re usually wrong), then fixate some more on how those judgements might posion our interactions. We’re scattered- worrying that we are underprepared, obsessing about what we should be doing, mentally reviewing what we said five seconds earlier, fretting about what people think of us and what that will mean for us tomorrow.”

    Phew. sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a link between perfectionism, performance anxiety and impostorism.

    Ironically, those who feel like frauds are often the most successful!

    However, external markers of success do not make you immune to feeling like a fraud.

    Writer Neil Gaiman suffers with impostor syndrome and has shared this anecdote with a fan who also suffers with impostorism. He talks about how he met Neil Armstrong:

    “Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

    On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of,” I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

    And I said,” . But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.

    And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.”

    If this is something you’ve ever felt, I hope you will find reassurance that you’re not alone.

    About 6 years ago I was offered a place on a group training program for music leaders. This was great news- but as a singer that couldn’t read music I was racked with self doubt.

    Despite my anxiety, I went along, made friends, and had the best time. Most of the musicians there were from leading conservatoires, and could play multiple instruments. I initially felt intimidated, but then I realised I wasn’t alone- there were other singers like me in the group. Singers from pop, rock and gospel backgrounds who learnt to sing by ear.

    We were split into small groups, and asked to devise a short composition together. To our surprise, many our formally trained classmates were in awe of our ability to improvise and create melodies out of thin air (even if we couldn’t say what those notes were!).Of course the admiration went both ways- but I learnt a valuable lesson from it.

    That’s not to say I won’t ever have those moments again- but I now know that it has a name, and that I’m not in terrible company either!

    So what is the solution? 

    Well, the first step is realising your not alone- there are others feeling just like you, but most people don’t like to share their insecurities. Being aware you have imposter syndrome can help you to ignore those doubts in the future.

    So keep singing, and know that no-one belongs here more than you!

    Want to read up on imposter syndrome? Both ‘Presence’ by Amy Cuddy and ‘ Beta: Quiet Girls can Rule the world’ are good places to start!

  • THIS IS THE ART LIFE

    Before studying vocal technique and becoming a teacher, I was a film student. I still love film, and enjoy getting lost in a great movie. Art has always crossed over with music, and veteran film director David Lynch has had an extraordinary influence on music! His influence is not only heard, but seen in countless music videos.
    Lynch’s cinematic style can be summarised as twisted, dreamy Americana.
    Bat for Lashes’ latest album and accompanying music videos are littered with Lynchian imagery. Lana Del Rey even covered Blue Velvet, a song ubiquitous with Lynch’s film of the same name. Lykke Li and Karen O have both worked with David Lynch on tracks. Watch the videos below to see what I mean. 🙂

    A few years ago, I spoke to David over Skype at a live Q&A session at the photographer’s gallery . I only had a moment to speak to my hero, but I was able to ask him how he stays so creative. (The answer apparently lies in his passion for transcendental meditation!) I’m always curious to learn more about his process and I got another opportunity last week when a new documentary about Lynch premiered in UK cinemas.
    As always I found his commitment to creativity and following his gut motivating and inspirational. Here is what I learnt…
    David talks about how he ‘sucked at painting’ when he started out (his first medium before film) but that he just carried on and on until he got better. He worked hard and stayed committed to the process of refining his craft, even on bad days. Amen to that.
    Lynch is known for being a bit of an enigma, and he rarely talks about his personal life. During filming he opened up about the experience of being a young artist- he recalls showing his father research for an art project (decomposing fruit and insects) and that his father believed him to be deeply disturbed as a result. He describes his parents as supportive, kind people. Despite this, they doubted the legitimacy of his career as an artist. On fathering his first child, his father and father in law put pressure on him to abandon his art and take a steady office job. David was heartbroken but channelled his desperation into making his first film a success. He went on to make one of the most celebrated TV shows of all time (Twin Peaks) and direct several critically and commercially successful films including Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive.
    Dedication to your craft and your purpose, even when others doubt you? Dedication to your craft and purpose even on days when you don’t feel like it, or you realise you suck at painting (or dancing, or singing)- and doing it for the love of it anyway?
     THIS IS THE ART LIFE.
    July 27, 2017 By @HannahMarie Inspiration Lifestyle Video , , ,
  • Warm up with Lip trills (video)

    Find out how to warm up with lip trills/ lip bubbles. A vocal exercise that’s rumored to be a favourite of Beyoncé if you needed more convincing! 😉 If you missed the straw warm up you can catch it here.

    New Sing with Hannah videos are released every Monday- subscribe to make sure you never miss out. Have any questions? email me at: info@singwithhannah.com or leave a comment. Happy vocalising!

     

  • Find out why a straw is your new best friend..

    My first singing tip video is here! I hope you will find them useful- I keep them short and sweet, so leave a comment or message me if you would like more information. This exercise helps balance the air above and below the vocal folds- which helps them function efficiently and easily. This ultimately results in increased stamina, co-ordination and vocal range. Not a bad result for making silly sounds into a plastic tube!

    If you would like to learn more about your voice and how to look after it, read my post on vocal health. You can also ensure you are first in line to see upcoming tip videos by subscribing!

    I’ll be uploading a new video to my Youtube channel  every Monday. The videos are for you, so get in touch if there is a topic you would like me to cover.

    Keep singing!

    Hannah

     

  • 8 Things you didn’t know about vocal health…

    Today I had the pleasure of attending a vocal health workshop with Jenevora Williams, as part of the Musicians Union Health and Wellbeing month – workshops are subsidised by the kind folk at The MUBAPAM and Help Musicians and run throughout August. If you are a Vocalist/ Musician based in the UK, I highly recommend checking it out!

    As a voice teacher, it’s so important to keep learning yourself so you can pass on what you learn to your students. I’ve attended many vocal health events, but I’ve still learnt some fascinating and useful things from today’s session. Jenevora busted open a few myths as well, so here are some vocal health facts and tips you may not have known..

    1)Resting your voice little and often is the way to go!

    Break up your vocal practice/ rehearsals/ nattering on the phone with regular breaks. After a particularly demanding song, give yourself 2 minutes of rest before tackling the next one. ‘Breaking up’ your singing with mini- breaks will help your voice to recover more quickly.

    2)Be aware

    Awareness is not only key to developing your voice, but noticing external factors (like busy traffic, or loud music) and it’s impact on your voice use is very important. If you are in a noisy environment, don’t spend the night shouting- find a quieter place to chat or have a dance instead!

    3)Avoid Throat Sweets!

    They may be packaged to appear healthy but there are a number of ingredients that irritate the vocal tract instead of helping it. Menthol might make your airways feel clear, but actually it just irritates and inflames you. Many throat sweets also contain anaesthetic, which may encourage you to ‘push’ through when actually you should be resting. Pain is there as an indicator that something is wrong. What to do instead of suck on throat sweets? Sip water! Not exciting perhaps, but the best remedy!

    4)Dairy isn’t necessarily bad

    A lot of singers avoid dairy like the plague, believing it to be a mucous forming nemesis! It might be if you have an allergy or intolerance, but in general, any mucous-forming effect wears off after 20 minutes. Everyone is different, so listen to your body and decide what affects you, and what doesn’t.

    5)Yes, smoking and drinking really aren’t good for you..

    ..but you knew that already! Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating so should be avoided before performing or rehearsing. Cigarette smoke irritates your vocal folds (cords) and should be completely avoided. (If you need help quitting, the Allen Carr (not the ‘chatty man’ comedian!) method has helped a lot of people.) Smoking marijuana is even more drying and rough on the voice!

    6)And that late night KFC isn’t such a fab idea either…

    …which can be a bit of a problem for performers who are famished when they finish a set late in the evening. Unfortunately scoffing food down just before you hit the pillow is a recipe for acid reflux, which is the number one source of vocal problems. An over the counter treatment like Gaviscon Advanced will be beneficial, but always consult your doctor beforehand.

    7)Warm up, don’t wear out.

     

    Start your warm ups by jumping up and down on the spot- then follow with some gentle stretches and humming- don’t push your voice to extremes. Rushing straight to loud or intense vocalising could do more harm than good!

    8)Living well prevents and cures…

    Looking after yourself really is at the heart of keeping that voice healthy.

    That means:

    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Rest your voice (take regular mini breaks!)
    • Stay hydrated (drink water and steam those vocal folds!)
    • Exercise
    • Think positively (stress has an incredibly negative affect on the voice!)
    • Stay inspired (what’s good for your mind is good for your physical health too!)

    and in other news…your voicebox (larynx) evolved from the gills of a fish.

    You heard me. Of all the things I picked up from the session, this is the one that blew my mind the most. This doesn’t really bear any relevance at all to vocal health, but I really wanted to pass that on anyway. because wow.

    Jenevora also showed us this weird and wonderful video of a quartet of larynxes. Worth a watch!

    Keep singing and look after those vocal folds! 🙂

    Hannah