Q&A: Building Bridges

Dear Lis,

My registers don’t connect very well. There’s a big break when I pop over from one to the other. What can I do to smooth out the connection between the two.

Greg

Dear Greg,

Here is an exercise called the waterfall.

For women

For men

Starting in your upper register, called head voice, sing the vowel ‘oo’, as in ‘too’, and slide down across your break into your lower voice, called chest voice. Try to make it slow and even, keeping the volume the same all the way down. At first you might feel the break. As you work on it, it will start to smooth out, especially if you go slowly over the range where you’re going to be switching voices. Try to fill in the notes that you might be jumping over. Then try reversing it, going from the bottom of your range in chest voice and crossing into your head voice. Don’t try to push your chest voice as high as you can. The goal is to make the transition into your head voice smooth. That will mean getting a little lighter as you go higher.

Q&A: Drummer Vs. Singer

Dear Lis,

My drummer plays so hard and loud that I can’t hear myself sing. I’ve asked him to tone it down but he tells me to sing harder.

Johnny

 

Dear Johnny,

This is an age-old problem. Experienced musicians know that the sound of the whole band is more important than any one instrument, but often novices just like to hear themselves play. Whichever instrument is taking a solo should be the focus of attention. Everyone doesn’t solo at the same time. When you’re singing, you’re soloing. All the other instruments should be subordinate to that and create a bed that shows off the soloist. Also, through the course of a song there should be a build in the dynamics with the verses less intense than the choruses, and the final choruses being the biggest. That can’t happen if the drummer is playing his loudest right from the start.

Q&A: The Right Key

Dear Lis,

How do I choose the right key for my voice?

Annette

 

Dear Annette,

Adjust the key so that the melody fits your voice perfectly – there shouldn’t be any notes that are too high or too low. Experiment with different keys to explore the ways you use your voice: how does moving the melody affect your timbre, tone, volume, flexibility and intensity. You also choose keys to produce an effect. Do you want it low and sexy, high and intense, even higher and sweet sounding? Think of how different Beyoncé sounds on three songs, ”Single Ladies“, ”Listen“ & “Halo”. ”Single Ladies“ is mostly low to mid-range giving her voice warmth and a playful, effortless feel. ”Listen“ is higher in her range with more intensity and urgency. “Halo” is very high and much sweeter. Her choice of each of these keys is based on the effect she wants to achieve.

Changing keys is especially important if you are covering songs sung by other singers. You won’t always sing the song in the original key: the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera might be too high, so when you sing it you would lower the key. Or if you’re singing a song that was originally sung by a male singer you might want to raise the key. As an example of how each singer changes songs to suit their voices, Leonard Cohen recorded his song “Hallelujah” in the key of C but Justin Timberlake sang it in D. Jeff Buckley recorded it in C but sang it live in C#. k.d. lang sang it in E and Sheryl Crow in Ab. Listen to each of these to hear how the keys produced different effects for each singer.

There is no one right key for your voice. You will sing different songs in different keys depending on how the melody sits. One song in the key of E might be too high for you but another might fit perfectly depending on the melody.


Ready to take your singing to the next level? Take private voice lessons in Los Angeles or online with Lis Lewis!
Learn More.

Q&A: Pitch Perfect

Dear Lis,

I want to work on my pitch but it’s hard to do by myself since I’m not sure when I’m in tune.

George

 

Dear George,

There is a wonderful, inexpensive program called ”Vocal Lab“ www.rustykat.com. Unfortunately it’s only made for the Mac. (If you find a good program for the PC please let me know at lis@thesingersworkshop.com) Click on a note in Vocal Lab and the computer will play it, showing you the note on a line on a graph. Then you sing it into your microphone and you’ll see your sung note on the graph. Is it too low? Does it slide into the line? Does it stay on the line? Start with the vowel ‘oo’ as in ‘tooth’. Then switch to ‘e’ as in ‘teeth’. The hardest for most people will be ‘ah’ as in ‘ma’. This little program does one thing and it does it well. It trains you to hear when the pitch is right because you can see it.

Q&A: Running With the Melody

Dear Lis,

What’s the best way to learn to do vocal runs like Mariah Carey does?

Angela

Dear Angela,

Vocal runs  or riffs are groups of notes that move fast. Because they are quick and light they are difficult to hit accurately. The most complicated runs are in R&B songs. Listen to Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. Some of the runs at the ends of lines early in the song are simpler. As the song progresses, the runs get longer and more intricate. I hear a lot of singers slur these notes and slide through them or even skip some of them but to do them well requires that you sing them all with accurate timing.

To start, take a rock song where the runs will be simpler.

Here is a line from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’:

 

There are two simple runs in it: the first is on ‘say’ and the second on the second syllable of ‘dreamer’. In this sound bite, I’m singing the whole line at tempo and then slowing each part down so you can hear the individual notes. Practice with the slower ones until you hit all the notes. Be sure to keep the timing, even though it’s slowed down. The first note of ‘say’ is longer; the two middle ones are short and light the last one is long again. The second run on ‘dreamer’ is only three notes. Like the first run, the first note has the primary accent, the middle one is light and the last note is heavier. I’ve sung it slowly and then a little faster for you to work on.

When you sing through the whole song, you’ll notice that these two runs happen over and over. Once you recognize them in “Imagine” you’ll start to notice similar runs in other songs. When you listen to more complicated runs, like the ones used in R&B songs, you will start to hear that they are combinations of runs strung together.

Conquering Stage Fright

conquering-stage-fright-04292013

By Lis Lewis

Stage Fright

I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently about overcoming stage fright. Here are some ideas that may help. First of all, experience is a great teacher. The more you perform in front of an audience the less frightening it is. Second, stage fright has less to do with what your audience thinks of you and more to do with what you think of your performance. The audience wants you to succeed. You are afraid you will fail. Third, the best performance you can give is one where you are connected to the emotion in the songs, not where you’re thinking about vocal problems, choreography, or whether the new bass player will remember what key you’re in.

Performance Anxieties

When I ask singers what they’re afraid of when they perform they usually give me a list: missing the high note, tripping on the stage or forgetting the lyrics. It’s absolutely normal to not want to look foolish onstage. But, honestly, none of those things matters. You’ve seen major artists trip and fall even on television. Jennifer Lopez and Adam Lambert each had incidents recently. What matters is that you recover and keep going. Of course you should be able to sing all the notes well and remember the lyrics. That comes from practice. Michael Stipe always has a lyric sheet with him so he won’t forget the words to his own songs. But missing a note or forgetting the words is trivial if you are connected to the story and the music. The audience isn’t there to analyze you; they are there to feel what you’re feeling. One of my favorite records (before electronic pitch correction became mandatory in recordings) is Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club. Her vocals are pretty pitchy but I don’t care. I didn’t even notice it the first million times I listened to it because her singing is so heartfelt.

Breathe

When you perform, you get nervous. That will probably always happen because you care about doing well and that causes a surge in adrenaline. Stage fright is a more extreme reaction. Your heart beats hard, your breathing becomes short, your voice shaky and you are too self-conscious to have any comfort or freedom. Almost all of those symptoms are related to shallow breathing. Sit in a quiet place and focus on breathing low into your stomach and lower back. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and breath slowly and deeply. Remember how much you love to sing and how good it feels. Right before your performance, sit down and do it again.

The more you perform the more you gain confidence. When you rehearse, imagine an audience is listening to you and loving what you do. Then play for a few people in a small club and after a while that will get easy. Next it’s a bigger club and more people. As your audience gets bigger you might get nervous again; but then, as you conquer each new situation, you will become more self-assured. Singing for one hundred people isn’t so hard when you sang for three hundred last week.


Ready to take your singing to the next level? Take private voice lessons in Los Angeles or online with Lis Lewis!
Learn More.

Backstage At Rock Star: Supernova

Lis and the Final Six

Rockstar: Supernove – The Final Six and Lis

I have had one of the most exhilarating and exhausting summers of my life. I haven’t seen the sun, my family or friends since June because I’ve been the vocal coach for the CBS TV show Rock Star: Supernova. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is a reality show with the job of finding a lead singer for the new rock band Supernova. Supernova is made up of three of the top musicians in rock today: the infamous and hilarious Tommy Lee of Motley Cru, Jason Newsted of Metallica fame and Gilby Clarke from Guns ‘N Roses. The show airs two nights a week – one where all the singers perform and one where only the bottom three sing. There is also a weekly reality segment that premieres every Monday on the Internet on msn.com. Here’s a little of what it’s been like for me to be working on this project.

Watch the video of my vocal clinic.

My Summer Vacation

It’s 4 am when my alarm goes off on Wednesday. These are not musician’s hours. It’s so early even my dogs don’t notice I’m up. My call time at CBS TV is 5:15 and it takes a half hour to drive there. There’s no traffic.

CBS is swarming with people – the camera crew, lighting crew, sound crew, directors, producers, musicians and all of the production assistants. I wait outside for the van with the rockers who tumble out looking sleepy and disheveled. They haul out their guitars and their suitcases full of the clothes they might wear for today’s show. Their handlers shuttle them up to the third floor to the ‘green room’. The mood is gloomy. Someone is going home today.

All summer these singers have been living together in a mansion in the hills of L.A. They have no phone, no radio, no TV, no Internet, not even CD players. Their whole world is the show and each other. The mansion is beautiful, the food is great, the crew is friendly and helpful but in the end it’s a very pretty pressure cooker that they are living in. Everything they do is watched and when they are upset or distressed, it’s filmed. Still they know that the prize is worth it. They all want to win. My job is to help each one of them do it. Every time someone goes home, those of us who are left feel the loss.

As I write this, I don’t know who will be the winner. No one does. I’ve heard rumors that these shows are fixed but I can tell you for certain, this one isn’t. The front runners change week to week and the show has no control over who the audience will vote into the bottom three. Today is the day we will find out. Those three will be performing for Supernova to try to save themselves and Supernova will send one home (in one shocking episode they actually sent two home!).

By about 5:30 (still in the AM, folks) the rockers go down to the stage (it looks exactly like the Mayan Theater in Hollywood but it’s on a CBS sound stage) and four of them are picked arbitrarily to stand in for the four performers who will sing today. Besides the bottom three there will be one rocker chosen by Supernova to do an encore. I try to give them a group warm-up amidst the din in the studio. It is minimal. The holy smokin’ house band barrels through a soundcheck and a dress rehearsal for all four of the singers. Then the rockers are herded back up to the third floor to cycle through hair, make-up and wardrobe. This is where they will spend the next few hours sequestered before they tape today’s elimination show. Breakfast is brought up and after they eat it’s time to warm-up their voices. Mind you, they’ve already had to sing but now we get serious about getting ready for taping.

In the first episode of the show there were fifteen rockers. There wasn’t enough time for me to give them each a thorough warming up. But now that we’re down to the seven best I know their voices well and I know what each singer needs to get ready for the extremely demanding day they are facing. I take each one into the hall (there’s no room to warm-up in and no piano – we do it a capella in the hallway between offices). We run through some scales getting them loosened up and stretched out and then we work on the parts of their song that might be giving them trouble. Believe me, these people are incredible singers. They work hard and learn fast which makes my job a dream.

Then it’s showtime. We all take the elevator down together – it’s packed with the rockers, their handlers and me. Usually we sing some loud rock song on the way down and they bang on the sides of the elevator – it used to scare me but we haven’t gotten stuck in there yet. Once they all decided to just scream at the top of their lungs – the elevator door opened on the second floor and there was Tommy Lee screaming back at us!

The theater is packed with audience members. (Another rumor that is totally untrue is that they are hired audience members. But anyone who lives in Hollywood knows that there is a line around the block of people who want to get in and do.) There is a guy warming up the audience and an incredible DJ spinning loud, loud music. From here on, I’m in the audience watching the show unfold. The rockers come out onstage, then the house band, then Dave Navarro who co-hosts with Brooke Burke and finally Supernova. The room goes crazy and the show starts.

My job is done for the day except to go backstage and say goodbye to the one who is leaving. There are tears all around. The remaining rockers are shuttled back to the mansion for more reality TV taping, photo shoots and song selection. I’ll see them again on Saturday when I go up to the mansion to give them each a real voice lesson and work on the songs. Then on performance day at CBS and we go through a pretty similar routine except they all get to sing; they rehearse their songs twice, go through hair and make-up, rock out in the elevator and perform for the audience. Let the voting begin!

For pictures, a video clip and more visit the video and press page on my website; The Singers’ Workshop.

How Did They Sing That?

By Lis Lewis

Every day someone brings a song into my studio and asks me ‘how did she sing that high?’ or ‘how does he scream like that?’ I’ll try to answer some of these questions by making a pretty good guess based on my experience with thousands of singers for 30+ years and also based on information I’ve gotten from managers, record labels and artists. I’m not telling you things that I’ve learned from first hand experience with the artists themselves; that is confidential.

But first some facts you need to know. Each instrument has it’s own range – a soprano sax has a different range than an alto sax. If you give a soprano sax player a part that is meant for an alto, they will look at you like you’re a fool. Unfortunately many singers think they should be able to sing anything. If you imagine Sarah McLaughlin trying to sing a Janis Joplin song, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Sarah McLaughlin is an amazing singer but she wouldn’t sing in Janis Joplin’s range. McLaughlin’s voice is higher and the tonal quality is different. Assess your own instrument and understand your range. It can be improved, extended and strengthened but it still has its limits and you need to know what they are. You can’t sing everything. Even within your range some musical styles will sound better than others. That may seem obvious but you wouldn?t believe the number of people who think they ‘should’ be able to sing anything.

Also you must realize that there is a big difference between what you hear on a recording and what a person can actually do in a live performance. In the studio there are all kinds of tricks that can be used to make a voice sound better, stronger, more in tune etc. The listener expects to hear a perfect performance on a record and nothing else is acceptable. But in a live show the audience doesn’t notice if a pitch is a little off or a note isn’t held as long, because there’s so much more going on besides the vocal: the energy, the visual, the crowd, and the band. So don’t expect yourself to sing perfectly like the record. It’s good to try, but realize that you don’t have the equipment that they have to help you.

What ‘s Going On

First example is Christina Aguilera. If you listen to her song ‘Beautiful’ (or almost any other song she sings) you will hear her hit some pretty high notes in what sounds like her chest voice – chest voice is the big, earthy voice most of us speak in, also referred to as ‘natural’ voice. In fact she’s not in chest but in blend. This is a mix of chest and head voices that allows you to take some of the chest tone higher than it would normally go. Listen to the bridge where she adlibs over the melody. She has built a big, bad blend – she’s a monster singer. But when you try to do it might sound forced or tight. Or it might just pop over to your upper voice and sound too thin. Blending the two voices is hard to do; you absolutely need a voice teacher to help you work on it without getting hoarse.





Another great example of a singer who is blending is Jeff Buckley. Listen to his song ‘Grace’. What a beautiful vocalist he was. A lot of guys feel like they have to shout to get emotional but he gives an incredibly emotional performance without screaming. As he goes higher he slowly adds his head voice into the sound (like a crossfade between the two voices) so it sounds strong and smooth. When he goes to his head voice, it’s seamless – you can’t tell.

What Not To Do

If you’ve read my other articles you know I’m not a fan of ‘American Idol’ and here’s one reason why. If you saw the first season, you’ll remember that Kelly Clarkson, the winner, had blown out her voice so badly by the last show that she couldn’t sing her final number. The other finalists had to come out and sing it for her. She was scheduled to be on several late night talk shows in the following few nights and she could hardly speak. Her doctor told her she had to stop using her voice entirely, so they cancelled her remaining appearances. In interviews she’s talked about that time and said that her vocal problem came from being tired and singing too much and I’m sure that’s true. But I also heard her sing during the show each week pushing her chest voice up as far as she could. This is one of the most damaging things you can do to your voice. Each week she had to shout a little bit more to get those high notes that the ‘American Idol’ producers and fans love so much.





I don’t know Kelly Clarkson and I don’t know what actually happened, but when I listen to her now, her singing is entirely different. In a song like ‘Breakaway’ it seems obvious to me that she’s learned how to blend. No more shouting those high notes; now they have finesse. I imagine that she had to learn how to preserve her voice so she could sing night after night and not lose it. She is every bit as exciting a singer as she ever was (more, in my opinion) but she’s learned to control her instrument.

By the way, just because a singer knows how to blend, doesn’t mean they always use it. Sometimes in the heat of a live performance they will push too much air pressure and stay in chest too high up. It is public knowledge that Whitney Huston, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera have all done this and paid a price for it later: tours cancelled, the dreaded ‘nodes’ on the vocal cords. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park had to cancel dates as a result of laryngitis. He’s another great example of a singer who screamed his way into trouble and then had to change the way he sang. Listen to ‘One Step Closer’ from their debut 2000 album ‘Hybrid Theory’ and compare it to how he sings ‘Numb’ or ‘Somewhere I Belong’ on the 2003 ‘Meteora’ album. (I’ve never worked with Chester, though I’d love to, so I’m speculating about this. I have worked with most of the other members of Linkin Park.)

You can’t afford to rehearse, perform and record while continually abusing your voice. It will only last so long before you wear it out. If your throat feels tight at the end of your set, if you can’t get the high notes at the end of the set as well as you could at the beginning, if you have to work a little harder to talk the morning after, you’re heading for trouble. If you want to have a career, you’ll have take the time now to learn to treat your voice right. Don’t wait until you lose it.


Ready to take your singing to the next level? Take private voice lessons in Los Angeles or online with Lis Lewis!
Learn More.

Your Business Team: Who They Are And When To Get Them

 By Lis Lewis 

You’re writing songs and getting your band together in rehearsals. Wouldn’t it be great to get your business team together now: to have a manager step in to make contacts for you and an agent to get you some work? Unfortunately neither of these two professionals is going to be interested in working with you yet; you are going to have to do their jobs yourself.

‘But’, I hear you cry, ‘I’m an artist not a business person. I don’t know how to do all that and besides I just want to sing.’ I know how you feel but I’m afraid you have a long way to go before a manager or an agent is going to pay attention to you. For one thing, they take a percentage of your income and you haven’t got any. You have to do the jobs of agent, publicist, manager and promoter for yourself before any of those people will do it for you. You have to get your bandwagon rolling before anyone will want to jump on it.

What are those jobs and when can you start to look for other people to do them? Probably the most important and the most long term is the manager. If you want to have a career as an artist, you will eventually have to have a manager. They are the head of your team and act as your representative to all the other professionals in your career. They advise and counsel you on every aspect of being an artist, from business decisions to creative ones. [As a result of their very powerful position, you want to make sure that they are the right manager for you, that they act in a way that you are comfortable with when they represent you to other people and that they have your best interests at heart.]

What A Manager Does

There are conventions in every business and the music business is loaded with them. These are the details that are considered standards for the industry: How long should you expect a recording contract to be and how many records will you be required to make? What percentage of the retail price does the artist get for each record sold? What kind of advance can you expect from a publisher? These are the kinds of things your manager should know. Another part of the manager’s job is to bring you to a record label and then represent you to the label once you are signed.

Within the record label there are many departments: the A&R department which signs you, the promotion department which gets you on the radio, the P.R. department which gets you in the press and many others. Your manager will be on the phone to each of those departments fighting to make your band their priority. If Interscope Records has major releases from platinum artists like No Doubt and Lady Gaga, their radio promotion department will probably put your album on the back burner. That’s when you need a great manager to stoke that fire and get the promotion department to work your record to radio.

There is a reverse correlation between how powerful a manager is and how much attention he or she will give you. If you get a fresh young green manager who is as new to the business as you are but who adores the band and will fight tooth and nail for you, you will have all the attention you can handle. If, however, you want a powerful manager who can connect you right to the labels and the best tours and negotiate the best deal, he or she will be very busy with their famous acts and may not give you the time you need. The more you’ve accomplished on your own before you get a manager, the more clout you will have and the more attractive you will be to a powerful manager.

Management deals are usually three to five years long and the manager gets between 15 and 20% of your income, with 20% commanded by a very top flight manager. The majority will charge 15% of everything you earn. As with all contracts, the one that you sign with a manager is negotiable and should be looked at by a music business attorney.

The Legal Eye

A music business attorney is not the same as a criminal attorney or a tax attorney. This is a person who understands the very specific conventions of the world of entertainment and will know what the norms are. They will also take into account what is important to you. For instance if you wanted more creative control in your record deal you might be willing to go with a smaller advance and make the record yourself. Or perhaps you want to keep most of your publishing. Your attorney will negotiate with your record label or publishing company for the things you feel are important with an eye toward getting you the best possible deal.

Attorneys work on a case by case basis. Unlike the manager who you sign with for years, an attorney can be fired at any time. They usually work for an hourly fee but in some cases will work for a flat rate i.e. one flat fee to negotiate a particular deal. There are also some attorneys willing to work ‘on spec’ meaning they will charge you little or nothing now and then take a percentage of what they negotiate for you. [This is not always the best situation because it can create a conflict of interest. You might want a smaller advance in order to have less debt since you have to pay back the advance out of your share of record sales before you will receive any royalties. The attorney might not be so anxious to negotiate this point because his or her fee would be smaller since it’s based on a percentage of the advance. It can get complicated.]

Booking Agent

As opposed to the world of acting where an agent is the primary negotiator, in music the agent does only one thing – book gigs. There are many different levels of agent just as there are with managers. But if you want to get on a major tour, for instance as an opening act, you will have to try to get a major agency interested in you. For the most part, that level of agent only deals with signed recording acts. There are plenty of up and coming bands on major and independent labels who are jockeying for position as an opening act on a Linkin Park tour so it’s difficult for your unsigned band to be considered. But it does occasionally happen that an agent will fall in love with a local band and put them on the local show. An agent gets 10% of the gig they get for you. They don’t get a percentage of anything else: not recordings, not publishing. They get paid based only on the concerts and shows they book for you. The usual length of a contract is from one to three years.

There are more elements of your team who will come on board as you need them: a publicist, a business manager, an independent promoter and more. But for now, you will serve all of the functions. Get gigs at your local clubs and then spread out to your region. Make a high quality recording of your original songs and sell it online and at shows. Put up a website with links to songs, tour dates, photos and press. Notify the press of special benefits or events where you will be performing. Put together an email list of your fans and inform them of upcoming shows. As you build your fan base and sell your songs, you gain momentum and create a ‘buzz’. You will having living breathing music which is attractive and successful and then it will be time to start sending your music to management.

The Courage To Learn

By Lis Lewis

I don’t like finding out that I’m not good at something, especially when I thought I was. I want to ignore it and pretend I didn’t need whatever it was anyway. I remember when a friend of mine gave me some notes after a performance telling me that I had my eyes closed too much onstage. I couldn’t believe it! ‘That’s how I get connected,’ I argued. ‘The audience likes it!’ I spent quite a bit of time defending myself until I starting noticing that other artists didn’t close their eyes and they had a better relationship with their audience. That was a blow. ‘Oh no,’ I thought. I’ll never be able to sing with my eyes open! I’d feel so self-conscious. I can’t do it!’ It took a while but I eventually started working on singing with my eyes open and staying connected at the same time.

I’ve watched myself have these kinds of reactions over the years and I see a pattern. First I’m defensive, then I feel discouraged and then I get to work. My voice students have patterns in their learning as well, maybe not the same patterns as mine but their own version. Change is hard; no one wants to see their weaknesses. You want to feel strong and capable. On the other hand, if you are strong enough to see your weaknesses, you can fix them.

I often get voice students from producers who are working with the artist in the studio. The artist might do a fantastic stage performance but under the pressure of recording, their flaws are exposed. Sometimes their pitch isn’t spot-on or they get vocally tired. Often when the producer sends the artist to me, the artist isn’t happy about it. They don’t want to admit that there is anything wrong with the way they sing. Once they’re willing to acknowledge that they could use some help, it’s a relief to them that they can get it. They realize that I’m their partner not their judge. My job is to help them overcome their problems and get stronger.

Everyone Learns Differently

Some people become musicians by educating themselves, learning chord structure and harmony. Others pick up an instrument and start playing without any information. Both ways work. The problem comes when they are afraid to fill the gaps in their knowledge: the intuitive player is scared to learn to read music and the educated player is afraid to improvise.

6891172964_58c6369e28_b

We each have our own process of discovering what we need to learn and then figuring out how we’re going to learn it. I see my own learning process like the face of a clock with ‘6’ at the bottom and ’12’ at the top. I’ll start at ‘6’ because its my favorite spot; that’s where I’ve already figured out what I need to learn and how I should go about it. All I have to do is work and I know I’ll accomplish my goal. It’s not frightening; it’s exciting. I want to learn. I trudge along learning as best I can toward the ‘9’ on the clock getting better and better. I’m really getting it! Right around ’11’, I’ve got it! I’m a great singer now and nothing can bring me down! I know it all. Then suddenly somewhere around ‘1’, I realize there is something about this career that I’m not so good at, like keeping my eyes open when I’m performing. What am I going to do? I’m a failure. How could I not have known this? What made me think I could be a singer? Between ‘1’ and ‘5’ is pretty bleak. I have to fix what’s wrong but I don’t know how – I don’t even know if I can. I’m defenseless and I’m willing to try anything. Because I’m so open to help, I always find some. Now I can get started working on it. Then I’m at ‘6’, my favorite spot, where I know what to do and all I have to do is work hard.

I don’t expect your process to be like mine; my process is a little radical. I get too arrogant when I think I’m good and too depressed when I think I’m bad. But if I can recognize it, I can see that each part of it is temporary. That alone makes it less radical. The same is true for you. When you hit a snag in your learning, a part of you feels ‘I’ll never get this?.’ But you can also remember that you’ve felt that way before and then gone on to accomplish your goals. You will be able to push through your doubts because you know there’s success on the other side. And maybe when you are at your most arrogant, thinking, ‘I don’t need any help,’ there will be a part of you thinking ‘there’s always more to learn.’