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On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your enjoyment of singing? Do you enjoy it more or less than at some time in the past? If you are enjoying it more, keep doing what you are doing, as it is obviously successful. If you are enjoying it less, or find yourself fluctuating, it's time to change something. (And I don't mean that the answer is to stop singing, by any means.) When did you enjoy singing the most? What were the circumstances? Where you singing with others, a band, for an audience or just yourself? What's the point of these questions, you ask?

Singing can become a far too serious matter. Worrying about what others think of your voice, struggling with inadequate vocal technique, a poor monitor system, shouting over a wall of sound created by enthusiastic electric instrumentalists, poor tour conditions, no pay or insulting club owners, all can take a toll on your level of enthusiasm. It's not just the difficulties that can arise in the struggles of the business of music. Poor communication between band members can taint the fun. And if you are is going for that big brass ring in the sky, what about the stifling effects of low self esteem or insecurity?

Because the voice is an emotion sensitive instrument, if you are in a bad frame of mind about singing, it will come through to your audience whether you want it to or not. It will effect your performance as well as how the muscles of your voice operate, making singing itself a more strenuous activity than is healthy for your instrument.

So what can you do about this? Clarifying your goals and reflecting on the bigger picture is a good first step. Just step back and remind yourself why you are doing what you're doing. Certainly, if you didn't know in the first place, it's time to set some goals. Or if you took up a singing career to get even with your dad or some such misguided purpose, you might want to redefine your motives so that your life is not one big negative reaction. Most of you, I'm sure, have some bigger purpose in mind; some kind of contribution to life. And the fact of the matter is, society needs you to fulfill this purpose!

How do you clarify your goals? Yeah, sure, you want to be a singer, but that's a bit too general. How do you specifically align this to your life and happiness? In setting goals, a common mistake is concentrating on what you want to be. If you start with identifying what end result you want to have; what effect you want to create, you can then work backwards to what you have to do to have that and who you have to be to do that. Many people fixate on wanting to have a lot of money. And while money is a necessity in our society, it is the exchange for the effects you create. Plus, you don't create money. Actually, only the US Mint creates money. You create music, an exhilarated audience, screaming fans, or whatever, and money is what you get back for doing that. (By the way, clarifying your goals as a singer/artist, is an important ingredient that goes into establishing your own unique style.)

Any time an activity gets too serious, you start to lose at it. Having fun usually accompanies winning at an endeavor. I know it is difficult to enjoy what you're doing if there are things happening that you don't understand. In those cases, you lose the sense of control and certainty needed to have confidence in your actions. This is why getting educated in each area of your life and activitiy is so important. So you can trust that your actions will pay off the way you intend them to and not have to pray to lady luck.

When you perform, when you get your music out there, you touch an aspect in people that is quite special. How and what you sing, the music that you put out into our society can make a difference to the health and welfare of all. Now I know this can start getting heavy in terms of the responsibility it indicates. Pumping hate music into the world will, unfortunately breed like feelings. In which case, if this is the kind of message a singer and band is spreading, they shouldn't complain if people aren't treating them nicely. As the expression goes, what goes around comes around.

Artists are the leaders of our world. New ideas are created by artists. Music, being the universal language, can cut across otherwise blocked channels of communication between people. As the philosopher L. Ron Hubbard wrote, "The artist has an enormous role in the enhancement of today's and the creation of tomorrow's reality. A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists."

Jeannie Deva is considered by many to be one of the top international vocal specialists. Founder of The Deva MethodŽ, A Non-Classical Approach for SingersTM and Jeannie DevaŽ Voice Studios, with three locations in New England and her own private voice studio in LA, she has also gained respect for her record production and recording session vocal coaching. Clients include many local, national and international acts. Her vocal products include her popular home study course: "The Contemporary Vocalist" which includes a book and four CDs. For information on private lessons, voice enhancement products, and recording studio vocal production,

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