Mama Mary is posting for our fledgling blogger, Joelle Charbonneau.

Anyone Can Sing – Trust Me

Anyone can sing. Yeah, I can hear a lot of you shaking your head in my direction and thinking about whatever family member can’t carry a tune. Trust me on this, though. I’m a voice teacher and a stage performer, so I’m supposed to know these things. If you don’t have a paralyzed vocal chord or you aren’t tone deaf – you can sing. I’m not talking about becoming the next Broadway star or American Idol. But if you have trouble carrying a tune and think you can’t do it – you can. Keep reading because I’m going to tell you how.

When you sing, your brain tells your vocal chords to stretch to the perfect length and width to create the note you want. Cool, right? If you want to see a demonstration of the different sizes and widths required to make specific notes, go look inside a piano. Each wire, different in length and width, creates a specific note. The only different between the piano and the voice is you. Yes – you. When you play the piano, the piano is the instrument. A key is pressed and a little hammer inside hits the right string and the correct note is played. When you sing there is nothing to hide behind. The instrument is you. Your brain tells your vocal chords to create the right size for the note you want and they do it. Or they should. If they don’t there is a reason why and the reason is – yep, you guessed it - you.

One thing most people lack when singing is confidence. They worry that they aren’t going to sound good or might hit the wrong note. And guess what? Once you think you aren’t going to hit the note – you won’t. Your brain will send mixed signals to your vocal chords and more often than not, you won’t be thrilled with the outcome. However, if you try the same thing again with confidence, I’m certain you will appreciate the difference. Sure there are things like breathing and vocal placement and all that jazz that make a singer more polished and a tone more beautiful. But those things don’t add up to much if there isn’t any confidence. If you tell yourself you can do it – you can. Maybe not the first time or the second, but I bet if you keep trying you’ll hear the difference.

Confidence is an amazing thing. It can move mountains or in this case help you carry a tune. Of course, that begs the question – if simply acting with confidence can help you sing, what else can it help you accomplish? As a writer, I’ve learned that confidence helps me get from page to page – chapter to chapter. If I doubt the story I am telling – the story never has a chance. I get hung up revising the opening or I agonize over little details that don’t matter in my first draft. So I pretend that I know what I’m doing and go for it. Yeah, I’ve learned lots of important techniques to telling a story, but, like singing, confidence pulls those things together and makes them work.

So today, I challenge everyone to sing. Sing loud. Sing as if you belonged on the Metropolitan Opera or American Idol stage. And then look around and see what else you can achieve if only you believe you can. I can’t wait to hear what fabulous things you do.

www.joellecarbonneau.net

25 comments

  1. Nancy J. Parra // February 2, 2010 at 12:08 AM  

    Oh- fabulous post. Confidence can get you through a lot. I've written enough books now to know that my confidence flags at certain points in every manuscript. So, as you advised, I tell myself I'll be fine, I can do it, and I push through. In the end no one knows where I faltered but me.
    Still- singing? Have you seen some of the American Idol audition? lol.

  2. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2010 at 12:39 AM  

    Confidence is important, I agree. Once upon a time I could sang in the school chorus and college choir. If I sing now dogs bark and people look for the fire engines.

  3. Marilyn Brant // February 2, 2010 at 1:43 AM  

    Terrific post, Joelle! I find there are a lot of connections between music and writing, and I think you're SO right about what a huge part confidence plays... Still, you won't catch me singing aloud anytime soon--at least not unless I'm alone in the car with my '80s music blaring ;-).

  4. Nancy Kay Bowden // February 2, 2010 at 8:00 AM  

    Great post, Joelle! Writing and singing both require practice and exercise. After long vacations away from the computer, my first words on the page never "sound"
    like they belong to me, but my writing voice warms up pretty quickly--just like my singing voice, which I am confident needs a lot more than warm-up to be appreciated by the human ear. FYI, my pup loves singing with me and we sing every morning! :)

  5. Debra St. John // February 2, 2010 at 8:59 AM  

    Hey Joelle,

    Great post. Unfortunately, I'M the one in the family who can't sing. Although I don't let that stop me! I ALWAYS sing along to the radio in the car. People around me must think I'm nuts (Although it's always fun to see the guy behind me singing the same thing from time to time!) But, I figure, hey, in a closed area, I'm not torturing anyone...however, convertible season is a problem...LOL

  6. Judy // February 2, 2010 at 9:07 AM  

    Great blog, Joelle! Confidence is a wonderful thing. And with singing, practice, stretching those vocal chords helps too. So maybe we should have confidence, be willing to stretch in our writing and keep on, keeping on!

  7. Joelle // February 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

    Nancy - Yep...I've seen a few of those American Idol auditions. Yikes. But I bet we could get them to sing on tune if we needed to:)

    Mary, Deb and Marilyn - I bet anything you sound great in the shower. Everyone seems to sound their best there. I think it has something to do with the thought that no one can hear you...and the tiles make the acoustics really ring.

    Nancy and Judy - We should get together and sing sometime. I bet we could come up with something really great:) Until then, I'll keep on keeping on with the writing and the singing. I know you'll do the same.

  8. Barbara Monajem // February 2, 2010 at 11:33 AM  

    What a fun post. My voice is soft and I can't hold a note when a stronger voice is singing another note. It's like the stronger voice pulls me onto her note, so I lose my own. Can that be fixed with coaching?

    Thanks, Joelle. I'll go into my new ms. with more confidence from the start.

  9. Anonymous // February 2, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

    I am amazed! I was at Cracker Barrel for lunch yesterday and I chose a rock with a word on it to carry in my pocket. The word is Believe! Now, I read you post and I know that the two together were meant to send me a strong message! Believe!

    Melba Moon
    President-Elect KOD

  10. Anonymous // February 2, 2010 at 12:10 PM  

    Loved the post! I am going to try this out next time I'm in the shower.

    Deb G.

  11. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2010 at 12:22 PM  

    We should gather at National and sing. I can hide my voice behind yours.

    Someone mentioned a lovely recording of a certain new pink fuzzy slipper writer her DH singing together. Hmmm. Wonder if she and one of us could manage to post it later.

  12. Mary Ricksen // February 2, 2010 at 1:47 PM  

    It's all in your head huh?
    I used to be able to sing, but I hear sirens go off when I try to do it. Horrible.
    Confidence will get me through it all! I hope.

  13. Joelle // February 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

    Hey Barbara - yep...you can learn how to hold your own part with coaching. Actually, you can strengthen your own voice with coaching as well. I have students that could barely sing above a whisper who now can be heard over an orchestra...singing technique helps, but confidence is the piece that holds everything together.

    And Melba - believing is a huge part of any subjective business. Singing or writing - belief in own's own work is essential.

  14. Joelle // February 2, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

    Since you asked for it Mary M- here is a link for the theme song to an Indie Film - The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. I don't start singing until halfway through, but you'll see my DH....he's the sax player:)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huaRBDLBH1M

    And Mary R - Not all of it is in your head, but I'd say a good 75% of it is. Just go for it! (and let me know how it goes:)

  15. Anonymous // February 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM  

    Joelle, loved this post! You are so right, confidence is such a huge factor with singing, so is having fun. I believe that singing is also related to happiness. You can't feel sad if you sing; it's good for your health and your soul. Everybody should sing...it doesn't matter what you sound like - just get used to your own voice and don't apologise for it!

  16. Donnell // February 2, 2010 at 4:17 PM  

    Joelle, Okay I'll sing, but if the contractors leave my house, I'm holding you responsible. As someone who's heard your incredible voice, I'm totally intimidated. But, in the same vein, I think of the movie Sister Act in which Whoopie Goldberg presses on the diaphragm of the shy novice when Sr. Mary Clare (W.G.) asks her to sing. She belts out a good one, and then, like you said she exhibits an amazing confidence.

    Okay.. My turn... La la la la la... Hey, Contractors.... come back!!!!

  17. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 2, 2010 at 7:17 PM  

    Great post and so inspiring. I went to youtube and watched/listened to the video. Awesome, both you and your DH are so talented. Going to use this to post to help regain my mojo!

  18. Liz Lipperman // February 2, 2010 at 8:26 PM  

    Great post, Joelle. Growing up, my sisters and I always harmonized. Music was a big part of my life then, and still is. I watch the auditions for American Idol and sometimes I think, what were they thinking? But every one who comes in front of the judges seems to have the confidence they can be the next Idol.

    I love the comparison to confidence in writing.

  19. Mona Risk // February 2, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

    Good post Joelle. I don't lack self-confidence and taught myself to talk in front of a large audience and give seminars. But singing is a hopeless case. My piano teacher gave up after 6 months. The chorus director at school tried for weeks to make sing two sentences, only TWO. She thought I finally learned. At the school presentation, I was completely out of tune and was such a disaster that they banished me from singing for ever. I just can't sing a single correct note. But I managed to live HEA without singing.

  20. Joelle // February 2, 2010 at 9:16 PM  

    Donnell - no way are those contractors leaving. You do everything with style and grace:) I'm sure they'll love the serenade.

    Scarlet - thanks for listening to the video. My DH is the real talent. He wrote the music. Someday the indie movie might even hit the theatres. That'll be fun.

    Liz - Music and writing do have lots in common...including rejection. Sigh.... I'm glad I have another singer in the crowd.

    Mona - Hmmm...we'll have to get together. I bet I can get you to sing those two sentences:) I like a challenge. I had a student who was certain he couldn't sing on pitch...and he couldn't for weeks on end. After month number three of lessons, I had him singing an entire song completely on pitch. It just took a while before he stopped doubting himself before he ever opened his mouth. I'll have to bring a pitch pipe to Nationals:)

  21. Mary Marvella // February 2, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

    Hey, Liz and Donnell and Nancy, Marilyn, Nancy Kay,and Debra! Welcome! Didn't Joelle do a fine job?

  22. Autumn Jordon // February 2, 2010 at 11:33 PM  

    Awesome post! You made me want to start singing now, at midnight. I'm going to keep your words as a remember when the dark you can't do that demon shows up, to say yes I can!

  23. Joelle // February 2, 2010 at 11:56 PM  

    Hey Autumn! I think you will probably belt out a song about this week's release. I hope you are still having a blast.

  24. Toni V.S. // February 3, 2010 at 11:29 AM  

    Ah yes, singing! I remember when MM and I sang in the college choir--what music we made! Nowadays, cancer chemo has done away with my singing voice (amazing what those little hormone-destroying pills can do) and I can't carry a tune in a bucket but I still sing inside my head!

  25. Joanne // February 3, 2010 at 6:42 PM  

    Hi Joelle,
    Confidence is so important. I tell my piano students, especially my adults, to relax and enjoy their music. They are so concerned about making a mistake.
    Great post!