Last week, Tim Carson, of Vocal Artistry, coached me to help improve my game in singing. He gave me two fundamentals that could apply right away that I think are applicable to music, but also to life in general.
He told me two things:
1. LISTEN to singers who are modeling the style/sound that you are striving for.
2. Then LISTEN to/record yourself singing songs like those you wish to emulate. Then compare and tweak.
For #1, Tim recommended Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day for me to get my sound to be lighter and brighter. I'm more and more aware of not only what Billie is doing, but HOW he's making the sounds he makes. This makes me better. Not that you'll hear me singing in Green Day style the next time you hear me, but I'll apply his technique to produce my own sound.
This applies to all types of learning. If we want to be a better guitarist/bassist/drummer, find the best guitarists/bassists/drummers to try to learn from. Many websites make this easy. In life as well, finding people who can mentor us in the how to live well is essential to living well ourselves. Jesus is the prime example of this. He shows us the best way to live, the life of a truly humble servant. Emulating this example can help us so much on the journey.
For #2, Tim told me to record myself or listen to myself over a loudspeaker system at least weekly. Having studied voice for many years, I have a reasonable ear. I just need to get the honest feedback that hearing sound from outside of my head can give me. Now with iPhones/digital cameras it is very easy and cheap to record oneself.
In life, this means finding people around you who are willing to not blow smoke at you. We all need straight shooters like the prophet Samuel, who ultimately called King David out of his life of sin. Because of encounter, David was moved to repentance. Ultimately, the adulterous murderer is most remembered for being a "man after God's own heart". This was in part due to the courage of Samuel, who spoke with honesty to the King.
These are two lessons I'm working on. We'll see how my singing/life is ultimately affected. Hopefully for the better!