I always find January rather a difficult time of year. Following the emotional rollercoaster that is Christmas, January is very much a month where I personally feel time stands still forcing us to reflect on the year just gone - and for anyone who knows me, 'standing still' is not something I do very well!
That being said, as difficult as 'standing still' sometimes is to master, these periods of reflection can bring about great change. They can clarify visions, breathe life into new ideas and of course, give us that all important (but not always welcomed!), 'push' outside our comfort zone!!
There have certainly been times in my life where I have felt the rug being pulled from underneath me, without any prior knowledge or consent, but one thing I have learned, is that these experiences often allow for the most beautiful of flowers to blossom.
In truth, they become a lesson in 'trust' - to brush the dust off ones knees, accept that status of the situation and believe wholeheartedly that fate has a better story for you than initially anticipated.
If January has been one of those months for you, take time to be still and ask yourself this one important question ‘what do you want?’ At the end of the day I truly believe there are no mistakes, only colours and detours.
As my dearest friend Joshua says, ‘all that matters is the voice, the music and the heart’.
The rest is just small stuff.
Let 2018 be YOUR time to shine!
‘Love someone where they are now’ - probably one of the most powerful and insightful phrases I have heard all year.
In a society that has put so much expectation on us to be something or someone, it is no wonder that most of us struggle with the act of simply just ‘being’. Our position in the rat race has become our measure of self-worth and with that, our mission of living a meaningful life is blindsided by terms like ‘when’, ‘just’, ‘after’ and ‘once’ - resulting in a continuous, never-ending pursuit of an intangible destination.
Worse still, we in turn have learned to put our expectations on others - to be whom and what we need them to be or to live the life we see for them, and thus inevitably setting them up for failure, and us for disappointment!
But how do we change this?
I believe that loving someone ‘just as they are’ (for all the Bridget Jones fans out there!) is key to facilitating change, implementing growth and inspiring transformation. Allowing someone the space to figure how they are and what they want to achieve, and accepting (and supporting) their desires without judgement, can truly be the greatest ‘nourishment’ one can give even the smallest of seeds!
The hard part… is that this will most likely have to begin with loving yourself ‘where you are’ first!
You see, sometimes life isn’t so much about learning at all but rather ‘unlearning’- unlearning to be the person society told us to be and recognising the person we are instead.
Owning your own story, presenting it to the world and daring to step forward against all expectations (and disappointments), again and again, will certainly lead you to a more fulfilling existence!
That’s probably why I love the art of singing so much!
As a new term begins at our studio, I invite you all to take a deep breath! And remember… ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important’.
Let that something be YOU!
After all, there’s a reason our logo has a heart on it!
Have you ever noticed how sometimes a song can linger, long after the person who sang it has left the building? Recently, Patti LaBelle’s ‘Two Steps Away’ has been playing on repeat in my mind - primarily because it reminds me that every day we are just two steps away from making a decision from a place of love or fear, and that these two directions can hugely impact the course of our lives.
Like in singing, our ability to deliver a song with intention and clarity, through our physical expression and our vocal styling, can significantly help us to convey the emotion of a song in an authentic and meaningful manner and to create a lasting connection with our audience.
But what about real life?!
Many of us battle daily with the questions surrounding ‘our purpose’. We let ‘practicality’ and social conditioning stand in the way of our dreams and our desires. We procrastinate, but mostly this procrastination comes from a place of indecision and uncertainty. We see the ‘boxes’ of those laid down by people before us, and wreak our brains trying to decide which ‘box’ best suits us and our lifestyle.
But life was not meant to be lived by someone else’s game plan.
Anyone who knows me knows that one thing I always say, is that there are more opportunities/avenues/outcomes in any decision we are faced with, than those that are first presented. Nothing is black and white and it’s your job to paint your own picture.
The key is AWARENESS! Awareness in who you are, in what you stand for and in who you would like to become!
A great spiritual teacher, writer, psychotherapist and public speaker Anthony De Mello once said ‘the enlightened person can do no wrong’.
It is only through awareness that one can fully move forward fearlessly and implement a lifestyle with the intention to bring about a positive change, in the pursuit of an end vision.
And this all sounds great; apart from the fact the today’s society never seems to allow us the time for self-awareness, reflection and evaluation!
But isn’t time an illusion? Something we too often falsely believe we possess?!
I may not do alot of things this summer, but I will certainly be taking a ‘crash’ time out to reassess my journey.
After all, it’s only two steps away!
Following an incredible workshop last month, I grabbed Richard Halton for a little 'On The Couch' session!! Here's what he had to say about Acting Through Song, Storytelling and Character, with some essential advise on connecting to your audience through the text and the importance of good vocal technique!
You won't want to miss this one! <3
This is for you if:
> You are keen to learn how to bring a character to life through a song
> You are interested in connecting with and keeping the attention of your audience
> You are curious to understand why good vocal technique is so important for self expression
> You would like some valuable preparation tips for an upcoming audition or workshop
> You are interested to learn more about the difference between Musical Theatre, Operatic and Contemporary style singing
Recently I met with an old mentor who, upon discussing a new creative idea which I was finding difficult to manifest into tangible form, proclaimed... 'find new terms of reference'.
I cannot emphasize how much this statement impacted me right there and then, and really made me think.
So often we live our lives within the confines of a conditioning society, afraid to reach out and try something new, for fear that doing so will isolate us from the herd.
And this is through no fault of our own! Our inherent instincts have taught us to run for survival once we reach the edges of our comfort zones. For years, the only way our species could literally avoid being eaten alive, was to be continuously anxious and on guard - always ready for and expecting the worst.
As such, by nature our brains evolved to detect negative experiences much faster than positives ones - making us at heart, a glass half empty kind of nation.
Worse still, our perception of new experiences are not necessarily factual, they are merely our survival instincts premature classification of a potential threat - without full assessment or fair judgement, because the situation "reminds" us of a former event. They are simply pieces of a puzzle which our brain, when under pressure, forces to make fit and dismiss.
But what if we didn't? What if we stayed and faced our fears head on? What if we didn't accept everything at face value, didn't get suckered into the negative feelings of the past or the fears of failing in the future?
The truth is, the real enemy in all of this is not the society in which we live, it is the little voice we find within. The little voice that makes us feel we are not good enough, we are not worthy, we are unlovable and we are doomed for disappointment.
Thankfully, we now know that shifting our mindset to more positive 'terms of reference' is attainable and that it is also possible to make better memories - against the odds of those which our survival mode has filed away. Failure in the future at some point in our lives is inevitable but it is not always such a bad thing. Life is full of peaks and valleys. The important thing is how we use them to our advantage.
In the meantime, make time to slow down, re-assess, re-evaluate, re-charge and re-wire. In the end, it really is all down to you! I guess this is where, practice doesn't make perfect, but the right practice can certainly come close!
This month, I am delighted to feature Michelle Frawley in a very special 'On The Couch' session. As a parent of a child with Special Needs, Michelle offers a very intimate and insightful perspective on the impact of singing lessons on her daughter Alisha as she talks about temper tantrums, emotional processing, learning ability and developing self-confidence.
This is for you if:
> You are curious about the benefits of singing for a child with Special Needs
> You would like to know how music can improve learning ability
> You are keen to assist your child to better manage and self-regulate their emotions
> You are interested to hear the impact singing has on promoting self-confidence
> You would like to learn more about the influence music has on child development and self-expression
Delighted to present our latest 'On The Couch' session with EUROVISION WINNER and professional singer Debbie Scerri as she talks about her Eurovision experience and shares some valuable advice on developing your craft and competing in competitions! ❤
This is for you if...
With the festival of love behind us, it seems Valentine's Day was more of a hindrance than a celebration for several people, particularly those without a significant other. However, whilst loving yourself can be a difficult concept for many people, developing an appreciation for oneself might just be an easier affair.
This year I have grown a huge appreciation for my own voice - two tiny vocal cords positioned in my larynx which vibrate and resonate within the internal structures of my body, transforming my thoughts and feelings into something comprehensive and tangible, and providing an important means to share them with the world.
And yet, is it interesting to see how many people question the reasoning behind investing in themselves and their singing voice. Consumed by thoughts that they aren't good enough, it's a waste of time or money or simply the perceived ridiculousness of the idea 'at their age'.
The truth is the voice is one of the most intimate and internally connected parts of our inner selves. It is the voice of our emotions and an essential form of communication to and from the soul. Our ability to use our voice, whether through verbalisation or singing can hugely impact our personality and day to day existence.
Engaging in singing lessons is more than just developing an interesting hobby. It can shape our learning ability, emotional processing, communication skills, memory and motor performance as well as our ability to pay attention, process information in sequential order and respond accordingly. It can also promote confidence, self-worth, self-esteem and relaxation.
From personal experience, the pursuit of singing lessons has taught me more about myself and the feet I stand on than any other course I have engaged in. Even more so has the experience of vocal coaching. In an oft-times superficial society, the opportunity to work with singers, encouraging and nurturing them to find and develop their authentic self as well as their position in the world has been one of the upmost rewarding experiences.
Singing is so much more than melody on words. It has the ability to transform the deepest of wounds and open the darkest of hearts - but only to those who are brave enough to dive in and explore their self-worth.
Loving your voice may not start today, but appreciating the potential of the talent you possess (no matter how small), certainly can!
Check out our latest 'On The Couch' session with Ms Laura Phelan as she talks about her vocal journey, delving outside her comfort zone and developing her identity through music and the voice! <3
This is for you if...
It's only mid January and already I have failed. Those New Year resolutions I spent so long pondering over only two week ago are already down the drain, and that's okay.
While the New Year is a stage for new plans, new you's and new starts, I believe that this time should actually be more focused towards our long term goals. The reason being that every morning should be a 'new start', to take a look at and reassess our daily actions and to see if these actions are bringing us that one step closer towards realising our dreams.
Remember, 'a vision is a dream with a deadline'. When your goals are set, whether they are weekly, monthly or yearly, the best route to take YOU there is almost guaranteed to change, as both you and the year progress. As many Irish folk have already heard, there are more ways than one to skin a cat and it is essential that your 'why', your vision and your end goals, follow a route that best suits you and your personality.
If there is one thing I have learned in 2016, it is not to stop 'my car' to justify my actions to someone who doesn't understand my vision or my purpose. I cannot even imagine how much time I have wasted, letting doubt creep in, by doing this in the past. And not just to those who question my journey, but even worse, to myself.
So, this year I strive to be more attentive, more alert and more focused towards my end vision, to take the time to consider the advice of others but to trust that instinct inside that tells me what is right and what is wrong for me, and most importantly, not to be so fixated on the initial plan of action I outlined at the start of 2017. 'There is winning and there is learning', it's okay to detour and it's okay not to achieve the preliminary plan - because sometimes, just sometimes, when we are fully open to growing and evolving, that dream can become bigger that we ever imagined, and achieving it can become closer than we think!
With the Christmas madness coming to a close and a New Year about to begin, it gives me great pleasure to present a brand new project coming to our Vocal Studios - one that I hope will fill you with inspiration, motivation and a greater understanding and sense of direction for your unique purpose.
While Christmas is a wonderful time of year for family and friends, it can also be a sad and lonely time - reminiscing on loved ones who are no longer around and battling with the expectations this season can impose on us. For many, the greeting of a New Year can also have this same effect!
Despite the old cliché of making empty New Year resolutions and worrying about all the things I haven't done, in recent years I have begun to really enjoy this time of year. For me, it is a time of true reflection and forward planning - figuring out who I want to become, what I want to deliver and how I might best achieve this. It is for this reason, that I have chosen NOW to launch our brand new 'On The Couch' sessions.
It is with an eager heart that I invite you all to check out our first episode with none other than International Performer Randolph Matthews, as he talks about Artistic Branding and Evolution. I hope this will assist you in the reflection and planning of your own vocal journey and take you that one step closer to fulfilling your goals and ambitions for 2017.
Wishing you all a wealth of happiness, success and abundance in all you strive for this coming year and a sincere THANK YOU for all your support in 2016!
May the road continue to rise for you!
Mad About The Voice Ireland and Spiritus Studios attempt the Mannequin Challenge during our Student Showcase sound check last weekend!!!! :D
A huge THANK YOU to Sean Rowland from MusicMaster.ie for all his time and patience today during our showcase rehearsal, and of course to all our singers, backing vocalists, parents and carers who took the time out of their day to make this happen!
The studio is a bit of mess but ye are all sounding ACE!!!!!
#december11th #studentshowcase #bethere
Wow!!! What an absolute FANTASTIC day yesterday - between our Industry Stage Performance and Charisma Workshop with the one and only Randolph Matthews followed by a jam session with the superbly talented PLAY house band - where some our singers followed Maestro Randolph and (let's face it) totally KILLED IT with their newly learned skills!!! I am feeling incredible proud and blessed!!
Preparations are already underway for our upcoming Christmas Student Showcase!!!
Can you believe it has already been 2 months since Ultimate Artists 2016 took place?! I, for one, can't wait until these four beauties take to the stage again!!
<3 <3 <3
Wow! Wow! Wow!!! An incredible and HECTIC day at the studio today doing a photo shoot for our upcoming website!
I am blown away over the wonderful support my students gave - posing as models and making tea! AMAZING!!!! Thank you all so so much!!!
Studio is now upside down but photos are looking good!!!!!!