Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Big Music Project And Musical Confidence

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen that I got a very exciting email earlier this week informing me that I have been selected for the semi finals of The Big Music Project competition and I felt like I just needed to write about it. This may become a bit rambly so feel free to grab a cuppa and get comfy.

When I first got the email I was excited. My immediate thoughts were 'the judges actually like me, this is crazy'. It then developed into excitement to perform for the judges later this month. That evening I went to a party and told a few of my closest friends and everyone was all very excited for me and I was reminded of how I'm surrounded by the loveliest, most supportive people I could ever wish for these days.

A few days after getting the email I decided to check the line up for the Cardiff semi final, the one I will be attending, and this was probably a bad idea. After watching a minute or so of all the other competitors I immediately felt intimidated. After seeing how incredible all the other people who I will be performing alongside are I couldn't help but feel inadequate. It is going to be little old me performing alongside people with much better voices and much more experience. Their melodies are more catchy and their lyrics are more coherent. I know that I should be thinking 'if the others are all incredible and you are put in the same category as them, that is a good thing' but I just can't make myself think like that for some reason. Immediately after watching the other videos I thought that there must've been a mistake. The email I got was probably intended for someone else. Then I reminded myself that I was listed and linked to on the line up too so it's unlikely that it's a mistake.

For as long as I've been writing songs I've been very aware of the fact I am not and will never be the best songwriter in the world, although I am still more confident with my songwriting than I am with my singing. Growing up, I was never a particularly good singer and, believe it or not, dance was more my thing. I was surrounded by some incredibly pessimistic people for a long time and if I ever decided to sing for a performance or later when I started uploading YouTube videos, they were never far away, ready to remind me of how incredibly average (or below average) my voice is. It's taken far more people encouraging me than ever told me I couldn't sing to make myself believe that actually this is maybe something I can do and I am okay at. I will never be Beyonce and I will never have a voice that is anything like hers, but I do have a voice like Lucy and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem is, no matter how many people compliment you, you're always going to remember the insults more. It's the insults that stick in your mind and rear their ugly heads when you find yourself searching for a source of confidence. I still have very vivid memories of people insulting me about music about 7 years ago and I can't remember a single compliment from that time. I'm aware that there probably were some, they just don't stay in my mind.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, last year I moved schools and was the new girl for the first time in my life. When I met new people, I didn't mention my music or YouTube channel as I had no idea how people would react but it didn't take long for my new friends to find it as I have it linked up to all of my social media sites. I was expecting a reaction like I had experienced in my old school, of 'why would you bother, nothing will ever come from it, you will never be famous' (they completely missed the point, clearly) but instead I was met with 'oh my goodness I had no idea you're a singer songwriter, you're amazing!'. Even teachers found out due to people talking to me about it during lessons and by the time we were a few months in it was not unusual for my Business Studies teacher and I to be sat around playing ukulele duets during lunchtimes. Even now, people are still excited by it and I have a friend who knows all the words to all the songs I have put on my YouTube channel and constantly asks me to upload more. I have another who helps me with any graphic design type things (you can thank her for the banner at the top of this blog!) and has offered to help me film some videos/take photos for anything I may need photos for. 

In addition to that, the last year for me has seen me attending a songwriting bootcamp run by the wonderful Amy Wadge (her brain combined with Ed Sheeran's produced the beautiful Thinking Out Loud). I worked with lots of other local musicians who were all incredibly talented and although I had so much fun and would go back in an instant, I felt intimidated by how good they all were on more than one occasion. One particular afternoon I was feeling incredibly intimidated and confided in the incredible musician I was working with when he asked why I sang quietly that I had been told so often that I can't sing that I often find it hard to sing loudly when other people are around. His wonderful words of encouragement (he is honestly one of the kindest people I have met in a very long time) definitely helped a little, as did the same from Amy Wadge, but those other voices remained in my head. Even support from other musicians I admire online (looking at you Dave Giles) hasn't silenced those voices, although they have certainly contributed to turning the volume down.

My point is, even though I'm surrounded by incredible people who are as supportive as is possible to be, those voices from my past are still in the back of my mind reminding me of how average I am. I'm not sure that they will ever go away. Slowly they are becoming quieter, but they are still there and they still make an appearance when I have a big event or am uploading a new YouTube video. Although I know it is probably a good thing to have faced criticism before I even really properly got into this whole music thing, it's still difficult and if I wasn't so stubborn and determined to prove them wrong, it would've been very easy for me to stop because of what they'd said. I considered giving up on YouTube a lot before last year. Although I now very rarely consider giving up, because the only opinions I hear are positive ones with the occasional piece of constructive feedback I can't help but wonder what the pessimists are thinking.

This slightly went off topic as late night blog posts often do but the point is still there. You could have hundreds of people complimenting you and all it takes is one insult to knock your confidence to the ground. I know now that the times I was told straight up that I can't sing were nothing more than them being mean because they could be, but that doesn't make them easy to forget.

Always make sure to be careful what you say to people. You never know what it is they will remember for years and once it has been said, it can't be unsaid.

Despite feeling intimidated and slightly inadequate, I am massively excited to be performing at the regional semi final of The Big Music Project. Even being able to say I am a semi finalist and one of 14 people they want to see there sort of blows my mind. 

If you are one of the people who has been supportive of me, there are no words to describe how grateful I am. Something as simple as saying 'I loved your latest YouTube video' may seem stupid and insignificant to you, but those comments whether online or in person absolutely make my day and it makes me more happy than I can say that I have been lucky enough to have encountered such lovely people.

Thank you so very much,
Lucy x