Developing yourself as an artist with confidence is a courageous life long journey of exploration.
It can be scary to figure out who you are as a human let alone who you are as an artist and where you want to take your career or what you want your creative legacy to be.
UPDATED 6th July 2020
“Creativity takes Courage” – Henry Matisse
Being creative takes courage! Delving into a long term relationship with creativity IS scary but facing it head on will help you gain confidence in yourself and give you a path to walk down.
It starts with having the right mindset, being brave and trusting yourself.
Tips for developing yourself as an artist
Build your confidence
Confidence is a rare commodity that is very sought after in singers (and humans). Whether it’s an environmental hangover (Tall Poppy syndrome here in NZ!) or an ingrained form of misguided humility (“who am I to think *insert any good thought about yourself or what you can potentially do*”).
Gaining more confidence is the number one request I get as a coach. “I want to have more confidence” – in singing, performing and technical or creative aspects.
So, how do we develop confidence? I believe it starts with knowing what you want.
This again, is not a human trait that comes easily. We know what we DON’T want but until presented with what we do think is a fit for us, we tend to just NOT know.
You need to broaden your approach to life overall, but as a singer, I feel it needs to start with what you listen to.
Turn off the “radio station” in your head
The one that tells you, on high rotation, that you’re no good, a crap singer, can’t write songs, are too fat to be a successful artist, aren’t smart enough, don’t have the money to progress, no-one will listen to/like your music, no-one gets you etc etc etc etc!
Turn it off or at least change the channel once in a while!
Let’s broadcast some positivity to our creative selves! Start by finding a mantra or saying that makes you feel good & empowered.
My one is “It’s my time NOW & I’m ready for the next step” (Thanks Denise Duffield-Thomas!).
Find a phrase that celebrates & motivates you. Make one up, like this ditty – “There’s only one you – your music & you are unique & that is what the world is waiting for”. You can get as cheesy or as straight up as you want.
One of my fave Maya Angelou quotes is:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.”
It’s not a mantra as such, but it outlines my ‘life movement’.
Here’s a great (slightly varied) passage from the pen of Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So I’ve made you a little pressie to start that process. Download this quote card and put on your wall/phone/tweet on on Insta, whatever floats your boat!
Just go be good to your inner self – ok? Start today with some positive self talk cos that negative Nelly has had a lifetime head start!
Review taking on board too much from the people that are around you.
Change scares some people. To think of you ‘making it’ as an artist means that you won’t be the same as them anymore and they will do LOADS to hold you back subconsciously or consciously!
For example, being focussed on your goals means you can’t hang out drinking or partying cos you’ll be getting an early night before a studio session/gig or studying/rehearsing music. That’s scary stuff!
The good ones learn to understand and support you.
My girlfriends are the best, I’ve had them since high school when I started my pro singing career and they totally understood that I would usually be working on weekends and didn’t hold it against me.
When I do end up hanging out with them, I often get drunk on two glasses of wine then want to go to sleep cos I’m so out of practice at the art of being a punter! Ah true friendship!
Listen to all kinds of music & learn the what, when, where, why & how
There is so much history to draw upon as an artist that it can be overwhelming!
If you need help, start with your existing fave artists.
Figure out what it is about you fave artists that you like and why.
Is it a technical element you can try to emulate? After all that’s how we learn as humans.
Then as artists, we assimilate & innovate. That’s a Clark Terry quote I live by. “Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate”.
You have to start somewhere, so fill up your creative cup by learning as much as you can. The fuller it becomes, the more tools in your toolkit to drawn upon.
That in turn builds confidence in your ability and helps you to define, what you like or still…what you don’t like!
Look after your body & instrument
I’m speaking to singers specifically but not excluding musicians with external instruments.
If you are ailing physically, it WILL affect your ability. If you are tense mentally, that too will affect your singing ability.
We need to be able to relax and trust in the hard work we have done leading up to a performance, whether it is live or in a studio.
You can check out some of my other posts about how to do this. Here are my top three:
Of course, check in with your voice with a coach or even an ENT if you want a medical assessment of your inner vocal workings – this is a great thing to do & doesn’t have to be done if you are vocally unwell. Get that singers WOF happening!
Have a plan/goals. Having confidence in your direction as an artist is essential so that when opportunities present themselves, not only are you ready for the good stuff, you can also help others get you where you need to be & be firm in saying NO to the stuff that doesn’t assist you moving forward.
This would apply if you secure management or label/distribution representation. If you don’t have at least a vague idea of who you are, what your musical message is & how you want to navigate the creative journey, they will either guide your hand for you (positive or negative outcomes up for grabs there!) or dismiss you as not being focussed enough perhaps?
There’s so much that can be done to develop yourself artistically but this is the best place to start & does cover many facets of building a life as an artist.
What do you do to keep your confidence up as an artist? Any development tips relevant to confidence building or otherwise. Comment below!
Be good to yourself! Even if just for today & you will have made mine.