How to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer
This is the third part of my miniseries about the four stages of learning. In Part 1 we talked about getting competent; Part 2 was all about getting confident. Part three is about how you go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ as a singer.
Stage three is called Mastery.
Mastery is where the prodigies live. The people who seem to have what we call ‘natural talent’. They might develop that talent very quickly as a child; sometimes they come to that talent later as an adult, but they deliver it quickly. But it can take twenty or thirty years to become a master.
You see, mastery is going from good to great, becoming a virtuoso in what you do. At this level you’ll be performing at an incredibly high standard. You may well be a soloist, or the leader of a band, starting to get more well known for your expertise in your area.
When you are at the Mastery stage, you are using your instrument (be in a musical instrument or your own voice) with great skill. Sometimes mastery shines through in song writing skills.
So, is it something you should aspire to?
Well, often it is, but it might not come for a while. And having potential isn’t a guaranteed route to mastery. It is not a given! But it is a journey of discovery – a kind of hero’s journey – where you move forward in order to really find out where your potential might take you.
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So, how do you go from good to great in your singing – from competence to mastery?
Mastery is about the detail.
It’s about looking deeper.
It’s about listening more deeply and with more clarity.
You’re looking for the difference that makes the difference.
You need to take yourself back almost to a beginner’s mentality, re-hone your skills and reshape them as if you’ve never learned them before. You need to make a commitment to learn at a deeper level.
What should you do if you feel you want to push for Mastery?
Don’t kid yourself; be aware of what level you’re really at. If you feel that you should be achieving mastery by now, but have been let down by a teacher or method, remember it might be that you haven’t recognised your true level. If you suspect that you’re being impatient, and trying to move forward before you’re ready, then hold back and put all the proper steps in place first.
You see, it is possible to fast track this, but you can’t miss out any of the steps. You must go through them all. You must earn your stripes and get those things your muscle memory before you can truly take your vocal training to a deeper level.
In Stage 2 I said it was okay to camp out in Confidence for a long time – even forever. A lot of singers do, and enjoy good careers. It’s not always possible for a singer to progress to Mastery, as not everyone has the right skills to reach that level. And that’s okay!
Acknowledge that you might be holding yourself back. You might be stuck due to your beliefs about yourself, your background, your opportunities (or lack of them), your environment, or your own habits. Sometimes unconscious self sabotage keeps us stuck in the same place.
If you are holding yourself back, it’s time to face the challenge. At this point, you need to work one on one with a mentor, at a much higher level. You need to push the barriers, and push yourself further.
What challenges will you face at Mastery level?
Years ago, when I was kind of hiding out in Confident level, one of my vocal mentors challenged me to take my voice to the level of mastery.
I admit I was scared to take those extra leaps. When you’re already good at something, the prospect of actually choosing to go back almost to a beginner’s mindset, to let go of what works in favour of learning something new, creates resistance.
So prepare not just for physical and creative challenges, but for the mental challenge of showing up and breaking yourself down to build yourself up again. You’re going to need bucketfuls of perseverance, determination and egoless commitment to the learning process.
How will you know when you’ve reached mastery?
From an internal perspective, you may not know. But you may see some external signs of your developing mastery:
- You’ll be receiving accolades
- You might be winning competitions
- You’ll find yourself being picked for things
And you’ll find that you start to develop a love for detail and for going deeper into your own subject matter than you ever have before.
When you find yourself approaching mastery, you geek out on it a little bit. You’re passionate about it. In fact, it oozes out of every pore of you. It’s that at this point you are sold completely on what you’re doing. You live and you breathe it. You can’t stop yourself. It’s no longer good enough to be enough, or to do it better than you did it before, or even better than those around you.
If you’re ready to move on to Mastery I wish you every success.
And wow! There’s going to be something amazing that comes out in the world when you hit mastery level.
Read the next part of this 4 part series – How to achieve artistry in your singing – HERE
Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.