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A Possible New Year’s Resolution for the Frustrated Artists Out There

Robin Alexander

Posted on January 3, 2019 17:08

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Whenever I taught Language Arts I always started the first class with this question: “After filling their stomachs, and ensuring a safe and warm place to sleep, what did cave people do?” Yes, we’re assuming language has been developed, and yes, these early ancestors probably made tools and weapons and clothing - and who knows when worship began - but aside from all that, surely they expressed themselves artistically.

We all know about the 17,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings, but evidence of a 100,000-year-old prehistoric art studio has also been discovered. Telling stories, dancing and singing (in short, musical theater) may not leave markings or fossils, but could those art forms have been far behind?

(In fact, archaeologists say that an early version of Baby, It’s Cold Outside was a favorite of Homo erectus and remained so until it caused an uproar in the Holocene epoch).

Anyway, let’s face it; self-expression is in our DNA…

…which is why, if you have even the slightest inclination to hold a mike, open your throat, and let sound emanate, you should make it a point to sing karaoke as soon as homo sapiently possible.

Because the thing with karaoke is, you don’t have to be “good.”


It’s perfectly okay to be lousy and to karaoke for the sheer joy of it. When was the last time you heard that?

Our obsession with not doing something unless we’re good at it makes me want to scream. If we’d started out being cowed by every failure, we’d never have learned to walk.

Never mind the fact that in any random group there’s enough raw talent to fuel a darn good musical (I know because I’ve directed several amateur shows). I’m talking to those of you who believe you stink.

Let’s assume you stink.

Do it anyway, and revel in it.

Because there’s something downright therapeutic about standing alone (without being inebriated) and being there 110% no matter how rotten you are. And there’s something endearing about being rotten and choosing to be vulnerable. That’s real courage. Wait – these sound like possible metaphors for life. (Yikes, too deep!)

Instead, my tips for karaoke beginners:

* Know what you’re going to sing ahead of time and practice.

* There are zillions of karaoke songs on YouTube; check your phone.

* Better yet, invest in karaoke CDs and a machine so you can see the words and change the key.

* Write down how you want to sing it (for example, 2 steps up or 3 steps down) so that you can tell the KJ.

* Some places won’t use your CDs, but they may have the exact version in their system, or they may be willing to record your selection and then play it from their system.

* Turns out the throat muscles are like any other; the more you use them the stronger they get. Your range and your ability to control your voice improve.

* Practice an hour a day several times a week.

* Choose songs that fit your range and your personality; in my case, I rely heavily on the performance factor, rather than on the beautiful timbre of a lounge voice, which I don’t have.

As she sang in La La Land:

Here’s to the fools who dream

Crazy as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that break

Here’s to the mess we make.

And here’s to you. Happy New Year.

Robin Alexander

Posted on January 3, 2019 17:08


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