• Val Bastien

What's Your Next Challenge?

Challenging yourself regularly with songs that are out of your comfort zone is important to promote your singing growth. It's cool to choose songs at random, sing them a couple of times, sign in to your Smule to record and post the result to your Facebook page and other social media pages weekly. But what did you accomplish?



Besides singing the song you pretty well knew just from hearing it on the radio, did you really learn anything? Did it advance your kills in any way? And don't get me wrong, you should continue to sing online and share your music this way often if you have the time to do so. It's a great way to build an audience especially if they know to expect your posts. But better yet, keep your fans engaged by singing songs that will blow their mind. Stun your public with songs that they, themselves, would not even dare to attempt.


So I'd like to encourage you to seek out songs that you actually need to practice before they are ready to record and share with the world. Here is what to consider to find the perfect song that will push your limits and impress:


  1. The melody is right in your vocal break.

  2. There are interval jumps giving you trouble maintaining pitch.

  3. There are notes that are too high for you to sing.

  4. There are notes that are too low for you to sing.

  5. It requires holding notes for a long time.

  6. Maintaining a steady vibrato on long notes.

  7. You run out of breath in some parts.

  8. Some sections are too fast.

  9. Some parts call for falsetto while others need full tone.

  10. Belting passages.

  11. It requires using different textures such as rasp and growl.


Taking calculated risks makes the difference between success and failure. Pick a song that you feel will challenge you just enough as opposed to stubbornly working on one that is completely out of reach. Although that could be a long term goal! Taking up too difficult of a song too soon will only hurt your throat and annihilate your chances at winning your desired outcome. Meanwhile, after you conquer a reasonable challenge, you will be better prepared for the next harder song. And little by little, you will make your way towards the ultimate song you had in mind. As you build your skills and confidence progressively, your motivation to practice will soar, as well as your sense of accomplishment.


You may, once in a while, attempt your dream song right away just to see if you are ready for it. But if you're not, don't dwell on it and move on. Sometimes, a challenge appears harder than it seems. Take me on my last camping trip for example. On our way back, we stopped at Sauble Falls. I didn't know until I got there that we could actually jump off the falls into a large pool of water. I was immediately filled with excitement and went back to the car to put on my bikini! I was a little nervous to jump off at first. Walking to the edge hurt my feet because it was really rocky and I didn't have water shoes but I saw other guys do it (sadly no women!!). I asked a kid for guidance and he pointed me to the best jumping spot. I took a big breath and jumped right in! It was so much fun! When retelling my adventure, I told everyone the falls were approximately 10 feet high. But when I looked at the actual video, I noticed that they were only HALF the height, haha!




The same happens with songs. Some of them appear really intimidating but once we give them a try, we realized that they are in fact much easier than anticipated. For example, I just started picking out the runs in Tori Kelly's version of “Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing” last week. I picked this song exactly for the challenge. I want to improve my ability to learn runs by ear as opposed to following a score. It turned out to be much easier than I expected. Now I'm just working on memorizing the runs and getting comfortable singing them. The melody goes up to A5 which is well within my range but the speed is the issue.



A week later, I paid a visit to one of the Eight Wonders of the World: Niagara Fall


s! Now, Niagara Falls is definitely too dangerous to jump off of! But magnificent it is! We can get close to it in a tunnel or on the Maid of the Mist boat which is also a lot of fun! The connection here is that some songs are meant to admire and inspire only.



Since I'm a soprano coloratura and my tone is quite light, I would never attempt to sing Wagner for instance because I know it would be too heavy for me. Maria Callas made that mistake once and later admitted that Wagner repertoire was way too hard for her and not within her (may I add, incredible) vocal capacity.


Thankfully, you can work your way up to most songs from medium to advance level. Especially, if you seek the RIGHT guidance to do so. Most of my client experience a breakthrough during the first lesson from being given the SIMPLE strategies to understand and FREE their voice. Overcoming your limitations is part of the plan if you are serious about singing at your best. Once areas of need are ACCURATELY identified, only a few shifts are usually necessary to correct one's approach to singing. If you are up for the challenge, I am here to support you during the entire process. All you have to do is set a time on my calendar to discuss what you are looking for and whether we are a good match. Go to:

www.voiceyourselfsinging.com/apply


Jump in!


Val