Have you ever felt like you’re such a beginner at running your business that you may never make it to the next level of profit growth? And does this scare you into thinking you may never have the chance to realize the greater vision you have for your work as an artist?
I used to feel this way until quite recently, when I saw just how close I was to realizing my vision without knowing it. In fact, it was already in motion by the time I had this epiphany, which was the most shocking, yet extraordinary surprise.
About three months ago I decided to take a voice lesson. I have always wanted to learn how to sing but have had a few voice teachers in the past who discouraged me from trying it again because of their overwhelming approach and my not having the time to devote to the training I knew I would need. As a dancer, I’ve trained my body to move in certain ways and as an actor, I’ve trained my voice to speak on stage. But I’ve never trained my voice to sing- and I decided now was my time to learn.
I happened upon what looked like the most amazing vocal school in Manhattan- New York Vocal Coaching- and within moments had booked my first session with Julie Reumert, an opera singer from Denmark who attended Juilliard and now lives in NYC.
When I walked into my first lesson I was extremely trepidatious, as I knew I had so much to learn and was afraid I would get overwhelmed with voice theory that had scared me away from taking voice lessons in the past. Julie had a different approach- we were just going to sing a few notes, see where my voice was and work a bit on tuning, some vocal placement, some explanation of what is actually going on anatomically as I opened my mouth to sing. Afterwards, I felt encouraged to book another session.
Four sessions later I was loving our work together, as I saw that I might actually be able to get to a place where I felt confident in my singing- although make no mistake- I had a LONG way to go! But I was committed to sticking with my lessons. It was then that Julie told me she was going to be away for most of the summer, part of it to teach a vocal workshop in Denmark. She started to talk about how excited she was for it, as she would be co-teaching a group of singers from different parts of the world with a premiere vocal teacher from London, Christopher David Mitchell. It sounded amazing. Then she said, “you should come!”
I stared at her for a moment as I thought she must have momentarily lost her mind. I laughed out loud as I waited for her to realize what she just said and take it back. I said, “oh, that’s sweet of you- maybe next year, when I actually know how to sing.” “You know how to sing!” she said. “And this will help you get better faster because it will be an immersive experience. It’s a very supportive group, it’s not a competitive workshop. They’re all there to work on the craft of singing.”
I thought about it, and in a moment knew it was the right move for me because I always try to move in the direction of improving my craft, for whatever form of art I pursue. This includes my business.
Four weeks later and a few more words of encouragement from Julie I was on a plane to Denmark for a week of vocal coaching and- wait for it- to sing in a concert in a 750-year-old church in front of people for the first time.
Throughout the week the level of skill and technique these singers had blew me away, in addition to the remarkable skill and talent of Julie and Christopher. I couldn’t have been happier as I spent each day with artists working on a new craft and getting stronger by the hour. As I practiced with them, I began to sing a bit louder, a bit more confidently. Any pitch problems I was having moving from chest to head voice were getting easier to overcome and I had some ideas about how I wanted to sing the songs Julie helped me pick for the concert.
Our first rehearsal in the church was on Tues evening. I was a bit nervous, but then I thought to myself, I’m in good company in a safe environment, and I LOVE being on stage- so this should be nothing short of a delightful experience. I was at ease with the whole world as I walked into the church.
But when I stepped onto the stage I felt my voice tense up and couldn’t get my words out past a whisper.
I immediately flashed back to my first dance recital as a child, where I literally lost all sense of space and time the first time I set foot on the stage with an audience and lights. I’ll never forget how I felt so helpless, unable to find my way for what seemed like the entire number. I had worked so hard, but maybe this wasn’t for me after all. When it was over, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do it again, but my mother and teacher both encouraged me to stick with it and it would get easier the more I practiced. I did just that for the entire next 12 months.
The next dance recital came again, and I thought I was ready. I had practiced so hard and knew my number inside and out. But as I stood in the wings, I started to have the same reaction I had the year before. I panicked, but as soon as I stepped onto the stage something else kicked in- a confidence that I could really dance the heck out of this number- and I was off to the races. At that point, I felt how much I loved being on stage, how much I loved to dance and I never turned back.
I was hoping that feeling would kick in as I stood on the altar of this 750-year-old church in Denmark, trying to sing “Let It Be” and hearing my poor, scared voice barely put out a whisper.
Everyone was encouraging me, telling me I was going to get it- that one note I couldn’t hit was going to come. Julie and Christopher were both in front of me and behind me, giving me the strength I needed to believe in myself in spite of my feeling utterly hopeless.
Finally, the night of the concert arrived and I was shaking in my shoes. I hadn’t felt so nervous since that first dance recital, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it on stage. What if I couldn’t make a sound? What if I humiliated everyone else who actually knew how to sing in front of people? What if I forgot the words, even though they were right in front of me the whole time?
I was falling into a major age-regressed state I wasn’t sure I would get out of.
It was my turn, and I walked out with my head spinning. I sang the song. I didn’t hit the note the first time, but I kept going as I saw my whole group of singers in the front row smiling at me with encouragement. The second time I almost hit it, and the third time I did it- I hit the note.
I walked backstage, feeling exhilarated that I did it. I knew I would get better, just like I did with my second dance recital. With my mother’s and dance teacher’s encouragement, I kept practicing and my performance skills finally kicked in because my technique had improved so much for that second year. The same could be true for me singing as well.
I thought about how my business has been a very similar journey to both my life as a dancer and my new journey with singing- I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, and it wasn’t until I found the right people to teach me the techniques I needed for my mission as well as the right group of supportive people to help me stay encouraged and on track as I worked to refine my technique and improve my performance. There is nothing more important to achieving a specific goal, whether in your chosen artistic craft or with your business, than having these two kinds of support around you.
This is why I’ve created the 14 Day Art Biz Challenge, as well as The Profit Canvas course and my private art marketing coaching services– to help you in every way feel supported, guided and know step by step what you need to do to take your business to the next level of growth, no questions asked.
To receive a free strategy session with me, leave a note in the comments below about where you are feeling stuck with your business with your art now. I will be in touch with you to schedule a special one-on-one consultation, completely free of charge!