I'm not usually a stickler for rules but we do need to throw a few out there at the beginning just to make sure we're on the same page.
#1: BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Singing is a very vulnerable activity which often means that the little negative voice in our heads can get extremely loud and intrusive.
For the next six weeks, I'd love for you to turn down the volume on your inner critic and just enjoy the process.
I know this is easier said than done, but as often as you can, catch yourself when you're criticising the sounds coming out of your mouth and remind yourself that this is a journey and supposed to be a fun one at that!
#2: COMMITMENT. This course isn't going to be a miracle worker unless you see it through fully. That means singing a little each day.
I'm only asking for 15 - 20 minutes a day, which really isn't that demanding right? If you only manage to sing through that week's exercises and your chosen song once (concentrating on the technical aspect we're focusing on that week), that's fine by me.
We are trying to retrain the muscles in your body to help your voice grow and flourish - this takes time and repetition. Schedule some time each day into your diary STAT.
#3: HAVE FUN! Don't worry about all the crazy things we're doing, enjoy them! We want you to find joy in the creative art of singing and build that confidence muscle by having fun with this course.
I will do my best to make this fun along the way but a lot of it will be your attitude my dear. Leave your fear, self doubt and ego at the door and get ready to have a blast!
Okay, now that they're out of the way - let's get started on the good stuff. The next video will help you to get started and choose which song you'll be working on over the next six weeks.
I know battling with staying open and curious to having fun instead of constantly analysing can be tricky.
So you you can download this inspiring wallpaper if you'd like something as a reminder on your phone or computer.
This may seem daunting, but I promise you this is going to be one of the easiest steps for Week One, so fret not my dear!
Below is a YouTube clip that will help you establish what your vocal range is. All you need to do is sing along with the piano notes (don't worry if it takes you a little while to pitch this, you have all the time in the world to listen to it and get in sync with the notes) and write down the lowest you can comfortably hit and the highest. Simple as that!
Please don't get too caught up in what the letters and numbers mean - we are just using this as a tool to track your progress. If you'd like to learn more about reading and understanding music after this course though - that's amazing, go for it!
Also write down which vocal type you are (they show this in the table at the end of the video. You'll write down Bass, Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Mezzo-Soprano or Soprano. Use these for references to my suggestions for artists and roles below).
Now I know that some of you are going to Panic Mode and freak out about the song you choose. IT. DOESN'T. MATTER. THAT. MUCH. Phew, don't you feel better now?
Often when we're scared to move ahead with something (say, learning how to sing for the very first time...) we start to procrastinate. I can see that song choice would be the perfect section for you to twiddle your thumbs for two weeks and not get moving, but we can't let that happen!
Firstly, you need to think about the genre of song you'd like to run with. The most important consideration? Choose a style that you LOVE.
Remember one of the 3 rules we outlined above is FUN! As long as the song is within your range and you're not straining too much, it really comes down to what you are going to enjoy singing over the next 6 weeks.
If you swoon over pop music, choose a pop song. If you're really more into R & B or Soul, go down that route. Follow your heart kiddo.
If you're a bass-baritone, you may consider... Pop/rock singers such as David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Dean Martin, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon or Bing Crosby. In terms of musical theatre roles: Amos Heart and Billy Flynn (Chicago), Dr Frank N Furter (Rocky Horror Picture Show), Gaston and The Beast (Beauty and The Beast) and Bill Sykes (Oliver!).
For tenors, think about similar voices to... U2 (Bono), Jeff Buckley, Justin Timberlake, Phil Collins or Elton John. Musical roles include: Tony (West Side Story), Chris (Miss Saigon), Jean Valjean (Les Miserables) and Roger (RENT).
If you're an alto/mezzo-soprano, you may look at people such as... Sheryl Crow, Ella Fitzgerald, Adele, Lana Del Ray, Natalie Merchant and Amy Winehouse. In musical theatre: Fantine or Eponine (Les Miserables), Nellie (South Pacific), Sally Bowles (Cabaret) and Velma Kelly (Chicago).
If you're a soprano, you could check out... Eva Cassidy, Alison Krauss, Delta Goodrem, Jewel, Diana Ross and Kate Bush. In musicals: Glinda (Wicked), Maria and the Nun (Sound of Music), Christine (Phantom of the Opera) and Lucy Harris (Jekyll and Hyde).
I know that this is probably the section you're dreading most but I promise that it'll quick and relatively painless.
Simply do it and focus on how much better it is going to feel (and sound) when you do this again at the end of the 6 weeks!
Don't panic over this for too long, just rip it off like a band-aid. I'm not asking you to watch this video over and over again, just record it now and then put it to the side.
Equipment: Don't stress, you don't need to own a fancy video camera (but good on you if you have one that would be perfect for this project). All you need is some kind of device that will film or record you - you can simply record this on your phone if you like.
Backing track: Find a karaoke backing track for your chosen song (this means no lead vocals to sing along with, although if it comes with backing vocals I'll let you get away with that). A great place to start searching for free versions of these is YouTube. If there is nothing there, there are a few great websites that sell backing tracks for approx $2-3 each (Karaoke Version and Ameritz are the ones I use most often).
If you are confident and would prefer to accompany yourself, please don't feel as though this isn't an option but it is best to record the instrumental first so you can focus on your vocal part on its own.
Please remember - just do your best. This is the before video, you're not supposed to sound like an incredible diva/rockstar just yet - that's what I'm hear to help you unleash! Remember, no judgement and have fun with it!