First In-Depth check in since before spring break! Over spring break, there were actually no singing lessons as the first week I was in Disneyworld and the second week was a week off at Tom Lee. I will resume my lessons this coming Sunday, but just because I wasn’t able to meet my mentor doesn’t mean LOTS of progress was still made over the last few weeks!
The two singing lessons that have taken place since my last check up have also been chock full of learning and valuable exchanges, especially since they’ve been extended to an hour long now.
We’ve been working on two incredibly powerful Beyoncé songs that really challenge me as a singer, but that’s the point! The first is Sandcastles, from her newest album, and the second is Halo, a classic. These are very intimidating songs to be singing in the first place, which also mentally held me back from this. During our sessions, we do not have fully fledged conversations since I’m singing most of the time, but very valuable things are said in between songs/sections that make this such a great mentorship. Because of my feeling towards these songs, I actually did bring it up, and we had a little conversation on this tangent: (luckily I record the length of every singing lesson anyway)
Hira: It’s just a little hard to even picture myself singing these songs because Beyoncé herself is so iconic! You know? I just feel almost intimidated by them.
Jessica: Haha yes that is understandable, but you just have to remember that no one has or doesn’t have the right to be singing a song as an artist completely separate. You would know, you make covers, right? These songs do have heavy connotations attached to them, but I believe you’ll be able to pull them off in your own style.
Hira: Aw thank you! I really hope so. And of course I’m comfortable in this environment we’ve set up too, I’d rather try my hand at it here than somewhere else. Songs also have like, the flexibility to be accustomed to the artist who is singing it’s style, which is something I’ve learned through my channel haha. It almost adds value and character to the songs, too, which is super important to me.
Jessica: Yes exactly! I’ve struggled with allowing myself to sing certain songs too, but it’s all about realizing that you are allowed to be the artist you are inside another song, almost.
Hira: Mm for sure.
Jessica: But it’s about adding that style where you have to ask yourself questions and challenge yourself as an artist too, right? So think about this song. How do you want to approach this?
Hira: Ahh, that’s where I’m struggling, too. Is there a good place to start?
Jessica: Haha that’s alright! So in terms of Sandcastles, it’s a super raw and emotional song. That’s a pretty non-negotiable trait of the song, meaning it’s gotta stick around in your “rendition” too, right?
Hira: Right. I definitely want to convey that emotion.
Jessica: Okay, so what do you think are some “negotiable” parts to this song? This is where it gets more technical, too.
Hira: Yeah okay I see. I could definitely change the endings of a lot of the lines, trying to add some of the vibrato she does but also holding it for a lesser amount of time and building it up with volume differently.
And there’s a little snippet of the conversation we had! From that point on we went onto a huge tangent on vibrato, and that was actually amazing. I sort of knew how to do it before that lesson but this was the first time a very specific skill was brought up and directly taught to me by her. She would do something, I would replicate it exactly. She gave me very specific directions and we worked for about 20 minutes just developing vibrato and then started adding it to the normal singing. Vibrato, if you don’t know, is a special singing technique that almost sounds like the notes are “vibrating,” hence the term.
The conversation we had included a few of the Six Hats within it. The very start of it was Red Hat, as my feelings of intimidation were completely emotional and were not backed up by any hard evidence. She was even on the same page too (red hat), when she had the intuitive feeling that I would be good at pulling them off in my own style. Then we gradually moved to Yellow Hat, I believe, as we talked about the reasoning behind having an artist’s addition to songs and why that works. We talked about how that is something that’s beneficial and she even had a personal connection to it. We then ended off the conversation in Green Hat, as it was a creative brainstorming session. We discussed how we should approach my stylistic decisions, and we asked each other for each other’s ideas. It’s really quite interesting to see how conversations fit underneath these six hats and maybe in the future noticing which hats seem to be present the most. Analyzing personal conversation really teaches you something more, too.
Also, another cover is up! This was honestly a very big step for me. This cover includes a lot of the skills I have been working on since January, especially over spring break. This is by far the most highly “produced” cover I’ve ever attempted to make, and I am incredibly proud of the outcome! It’s my favourite cover of mine yet. It’s a cover of Drive by Oh Wonder. You can watch it here.
I worked so hard to make it happen! First step was getting the base ukulele accompaniment and melody down, which I did pretty easily in one take after dedicating time to learning it. Then came adding all the extra tracks! This was my first time really going outside the box of just harmonies, and actually adding precision and extra instruments. I had a total of 7 tracks, 4 more than I’ve ever had. It took quite a while to find out what matched the original track and what sounded good together, too. My harmonies were also something I was really proud of in the bridge! Here’s what my workspace looked like:
It’s really an incredible thing to go through the process of setting myself up to learn these skills and then actually getting to apply them in times like these, and getting a final product you’re proud of! I am also proud of myself and how I was able to use the knowledge I already had as well as my personal artistic style to make decisions to make this cover happen. I’m excited to keep doing that, and hopefully even an original will be up soon!