2 Pitfalls that Killed Desiree’s Dream of Being a Singer 

 August 2, 2023

By  Judy Fine

When she was 23, Desiree started lessons with me. 

Her vision of success centered around becoming a contestant on the Voice. There was an audition in a neighboring state just two months away and she enlisted my help to prepare for it.

Within her first few lessons, several things became clear:

  • She had all the raw talent necessary for being a singer.
  • She had even more drive and ambition.
  • She wasn’t ready for the Voice.

I told Desiree that I believed she could be ready to audition by the following year, but she insisted that she didn’t want to wait. So, all I could do was my absolute best to help her prepare.

I wasn’t privy to everything going on behind the scenes for Desiree. I was, however, aware of two potential pitfalls:

  • Her parents were unsupportive of her desire to become a singer, and a huge part of her motivation was to prove them wrong. 
  • She had a relentless sense that the Voice was her only right path for accomplishing this - despite my many attempts to point out that there are a thousand ways to be a singer.

Fast forward two months…

Desiree auditioned for the voice, didn’t make it past the first round, and became so inconsolable about it, she gave up singing altogether. I never saw her again.

Why am I telling you about Desiree’s squashed dream? 

She is a slightly exaggerated version of a cautionary tale I witness all the time. And I want you to be sure you’re not headed down a similar path.

You have to support yourself the right way - even if the people around you don't support you!

The problem for Desiree’s dream of being a singer.

As I already said, she had raw talent and tons of drive. But she fell hard into two common pitfalls:

  1. The wrong motivation.
  2. A too-narrow vision of success.

The Wrong Motivation: 

It may seem harmless to be driven by the idea of proving others wrong. But by itself, it’s unsustainable no matter the outer circumstances.

  • What if her parents never supported her dream, even if she did pass that initial round of the Voice?
  • What if they changed their minds and did begin to support her despite not passing that first round?

Either way, how would Desiree continue to motivate herself? 

Internal motivation is the only sustainable kind. It makes you enjoy working on your voice and revel in the little signs of progress along the way. It makes you feel like you’re being the person you were meant to be – not the one that will “show your parents!” It feeds you instead of adding stress to your life. 

A Too Narrow Vision of Success:

I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of singing competition shows. They perpetuate misunderstandings about singing and about what it means to be a singer (and most of the judges’ comments are at worst, harmful, and at best, useless. IMHO).

Here are some of the wrong messages viewers can get from these shows:

  1. “If I, at 30, can’t sing like the 10-year-old super singer I just saw on AGT, I can never be a good singer.” Um, no. Some folks start out with their “planets aligned” in a way that makes it come more easily for them, but most of us professional singers just worked hard at it over an extended period.
  2. “If I can’t do riffs and runs like famous singers, I can never become a successful singer.” Um, still no. Not only can you work to develop your vocal agility, but you can be a great, successful, and loved singer without a single riff. 
  3. “The best way to become a famous singer is to win a singing competition show.” Let’s do some math. Singing competition shows have been popular for about twenty years. Let’s say we count the top three finalists of American Idol, AGT (which isn’t just for singers), and the Voice each year for that time. That would be 9 per year for 20 years, which is 180 singers over the course of 20 years.

It's a hard number to nail down, but Billboard estimates there are currently 1.8 million musical artists in the United States alone. They aren’t all singers, but we can imagine at the very least that hundreds of thousands of them are.

Compare that to 180 finalists over the past 20 years. Not only is getting onto a singing competition show and becoming a finalist incredibly rare, it’s also apparently unnecessary. Look how many singers are doing their thing without that!

The solution that could've saved Desiree’s dream of being a singer.

Desiree was motivated by external forces (proving her parents wrong) and had a too-narrow vision of success (HAD to be the Voice and HAD to be that year). Her goal of being a singer could have been achieved if she:

  • Found internal motivation based on self-belief and joy.
  • Reveled in small wins instead of over-focusing on final outcomes.
  • Had been open to the different ways her dream could have come into being.

By the way… if you want to audition for a singing competition, have at it. What a great experience! But if it doesn’t turn out the way you want – which is likely based on the math - try the next avenue. 

To sum it all up…

I'll pass this to you now since you’re reading this because you also dream of being a great singer… 

  • Do you have internal motivation based on self-belief and joy?
  • Do you revel in small wins instead of over-focusing on final outcomes?
  • Are you open to the different ways your dream can be realized? 
  • Do you want help narrowing down what your current focus should be based on where you are today with your singing goals?

Alright. I admit it.

I slipped that last one in to tell you about my new Singer’s Self-Assessment Quiz

The five questions in this quiz will give you an idea of where you should be focusing your workouts today.

It’ll also teach you what the four general focus areas are that you’ll need to keep cycling through on your singing journey. 

Check it out to make sure you're on a path of progress and success…! Don’t be Desiree!

Judy Fine

Judy Fine has been a vocal and performance coach since 2007, specializing in artist development coaching for aspiring singers and confidence coaching for women.

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