Once you face the consequences of not pursuing your goal it lights a fire under your butt -says Aaron Anastasi.
Aaron Anastasi is the founder of Superior Singing Method, an online voice training program that has gained international popularity and over 136,000 subscribers across three YouTube channels.
VoiceCouncil caught up with Anastasi to ask what singers can do when they are feeling stuck.
He says one of the most common things keeping singers stuck is a fear of failure. He therefore begins our talk by sharing his own failure story.
A Story Of Failing
“I’ve made lots of mistakes, but this one particular failure is seared into my memory forever,” says Anastasi. He explains he was 17 at the time, and on tour with a travelling choral group called Heart Song. He had been asked to do a coveted solo that contained a dramatic high note. Unfortunately, that important high note was not yet in his repertoire.
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to blast this out,’” says Anastasi. He did blast it out, but instead of hitting the note the way I’d hoped, his voice – as he puts it – “squawked like a duck.”
“When you force and you push your voice, it usually just blows your vocal cords apart,” he says remembering the experience, “it was in front of a lot of people, and it was super, super embarrassing.”
Screwing up like that in front of a bunch of people had been his worst fear, as it is for many singers.
So what can we do when fears and other thoughts keep us stuck?
Anastasi has worked extensively with aspiring singers and has identified five thoughts that hold singers back.
Here they are – along with his solutions.
I don’t want to fail.
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Anastasi teaches singers that failure isn’t a problem – failure is actually a solution.
He says his ill-fated performance at 17 shrank his fear of failure. He had endured his worst fear, and survived.
He learned – albeit the hard way – that high notes have to be worked up to.
“I learned you must be able to sing a note lightly and correctly before you can add more weight to it.”
As hard as it may seem, we learn from our failures and we will become better because of them.
“In fact, if we slow down the rate of our failures,” says Anastasi, “we slow down the rate of success.”
Singers must expect and even welcome failures, because they are necessary on the path to greatness.
I don’t know where to start.
Singers often feel stuck because they don’t know where to start.
“The inspiration we are looking for,” Anastasi says, “is often on the other side of starting.
Sign up for a vocal lesson program, arrange an opportunity for yourself to sing in front of people – even if it’s only your most loyal friend … and his dog.
You don’t need a plan in order to start. The sheer act of taking any kind of action will inspire you to figure out your next steps.
I don’t know how to get there.
“When my clients say, ‘I don’t know how,’” says Anastasi, “what is really true is that their want to isn’t cranked up enough.”
Any type of success takes work, so you’ve really got to want the outcome, or you won’t power through.
Anastasi says singers should ask themselves, “What negative things may come to pass if I don’t pursue singing?”
Singers often answer, “I won’t reach my dream,” or, “I won’t be able to express myself the way that I want with my voice,” or, “I won’t be able to make a career of this.”
“If you face the consequences of not pursuing your dream,” says Anastasi, “it really lights a fire under your butt.”
To crank up the want even more, singers should then ask themselves, “If I do reach my goal, what pleasure will I experience?”
Anastasi says singers’ answers are usually, “I’ll get to do what I’m truly passionate about,” “I’ll get to inspire other people,” “I’ll be able to have an impact on people.”
Next time you feel stuck because you don’t know the steps to take, stop worrying about the “how” and crank up your want.
The world is against me. I can’t possibly succeed because of ___ and ___.
“I call these statements rackets,” says Anastasi.
They are thoughts or complaints that deflect challenges (like a racket hitting a ball) to protect us from looking like a failure.
By complaining in this way, singers excuse themselves from having to do the hard work, having to risk looking like a fool, or being publicly shamed.
Remember that fear of failure so many of us harbor? These “racket” statements save us from facing that fear, because they give us an excuse not to even try.
In fact, many singers are complicit in keeping themselves stuck.
Anastasi points out there will always be tension in life – there is just no way to avoid it.
If you are pursuing a goal, but aren’t there yet, then you feel the tension of not being where you want to be. If you avoid that tension by not pursing your goal, you’ll eventually face the tension of regret and disappointment for not trying.
“We’re either living inside the tension of striving for something,” says Anastasi, “or we’re living in the tension of regret – so just what tension do you want to live in?”
Do I have what it takes?
The question of worthiness and approval is unanswerable, according to Anastasi.
“We can’t go to the DMV and get a stamp of approval!” he says.
Instead, he teaches singers to ask a better question that encourages positive action: “Do I have the capacity to find the resources I need to reach my goal?”
The answer is always “yes” – if we want that goal strongly enough.
The resources Anastasi is referring to may include things like money for lessons or an instrument.
Resources, however, are not always tangible items.
“Do you have the discipline to shut the door and rehearse for two hours right now?” Anastasi asks his students, “or to sing vocal exercises every day?”
He tells singers they must develop their internal resources like resolve, discipline and focus.
“We must get used to employing that machine part of us – that teeth-gritted resolve,” says Anastasi, “to get the ball rolling.”
Aaron’s YouTube lessons on singing and life have garnered over 11.5 million views and 130,000 subscribers. A seasoned vocalist and coach, Anastasi also holds a master’s degree in theology. He is the founder of Superior Songwriting Method, Superior Singing Method, and his book, The Voice Of Your Dreams, was released in April 2016.