Mastering your mind can help you sing better, explains vocal coach Gary Albert Hughes.
1. Think less, feel more
As singers we are often in judgement mode, critical and self-defeating. We think too much! We try to analyse what we are doing and try using logic to fix what is not going well.
When you are in the logical and analytic mode you are in what is called a Beta brain frequency and it’s not such a useful one for singing. I want to introduce you to Alpha brain frequency: the brain wave of feeling, emotion, imagination and creativity. It is a stress and anxiety free brain wave that is very useful for singing.
You go into Alpha brain frequency several times a day when you are day dreaming or focussed on one single thing like washing up, driving or reading. You can manipulate yourself to go into Alpha just by focussing on feeling and emotion. As soon as you focus on the rise and fall of the musical phrase, how thrilling the harmony and chord changes are, or the heightened emotion of the character, you go right into Alpha brain frequency and what you’ll find is that your singing instantly becomes free, open and easier. The trick is staying in Alpha more of the time and worrying less. If you find yourself thinking too much, stop and get back to feeling.
2. Create future memories
I have to credit Muhammed Ali, the world famous boxer, for this one. He created the term “future memories”. He envisioned himself winning and becoming the world’s greatest boxer. He said: “I thought I was the greatest before I was the greatest.”
We can learn so much from this. If you are ever having a bad singing day, stop trying to carry on and just close your eyes and breathe deeply. Spend ten minutes visualising and imagining how you want to be. Hear the sound you want to make, see the way you want to stand, feel the way you want to feel and smile to yourself as you transform your inner state. Spending just five to 10 minutes doing this and you will sing differently, I promise.
3. Stop why-ing and start how-ing
As singers we often say things like “why can’t I hit the high notes?”, “why didn’t I get cast in that?” or “why am I still struggling with this and that?”.
Psychologically these are useless and stressful questions. Anything starting with “why…” keeps you locked in the past. When you ask yourself any question your brain instantly starts looking for an answer. So when you say “why can’t I hit the high notes?” your brain instantly starts answering that question for you and confirms and strengthens all the things that are causing you issues with it.
Start asking “how” questions. “How” moves your mind to the future. It opens up potential and possibility and guess what… your brain starts looking for answers, only this time it find helpful ones. Instead of the above questions, ask “how can I sing this high notes better?” or “how can I move towards getting cast in a show?” or “how can I work towards this and that?”
Whatever you ask your brain, it will find the answers, so make sure you are asking questions full of potential and possibility.