Thursday, May 18, 2017 by Jake Hahn | music writing
Learning and studying your favorite songs has such positives affects on your overall musicianship. Writing songs and studying song craft is only a part of the growing process as a musician.
Here's a video I made of myself after learning the song.
Learning to extract qualities from some of your favorite songs, making them your own, then using them in your writing...is a powerful tool. Use it!
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by Jake Hahn | artist development
Singing and playing at the same time is no easy task - it remains a challenge even after you've grown to a point where you can do it fairly well.
Even though there are no real "shortcuts" to making it happen, there are certain ways you can structure your practice to make progress during every practice session.
Picking up (or sitting down to) your instrument and simply chugging away at it bit-by-bit CAN actually help you, however - if you have an understanding of WHY it's difficult on a physiological level - then you can take a strategic approach that will significantly cut down on the time it takes to improve.
Two words: FOCUS & DISCIPLINE
(choose now whether or not you can and/or will exercise these two psychologically challenging things)
If no - that's cool.
If yes - here's your strategy.
Step 1: choose one area of a song. Verse, chorus, bridge, etc...
Step 2: play that section 6 times while looking at your hands.
Step 3: play that same section 6 times while looking AWAY from your hands. Yeah you'll make some mistakes - keep going.
Step 4: play that same section 6 times while watching TV or some other distraction.
Step 5: play that same section 6 times while reciting the alphabet out loud.
Step 6: play that section 6 times while speaking the lyrics out loud.
Step 7: play that section 6 times while now attempting to add the actual vocal melody line(s).
The chances of you getting it down the first time are typically slim to none. But what you've done at this point is hammered that song into your subconscious mind 36 times in 6 different ways.
Neurologically you've begun to create a whole new nuero-pathway in your brain - as well as (the most important part) begun to solidify that pathway with myelin.
Myelin is a substance in the white matter of your brain that literally coats and insulates that newly created nuero-pathway you just created.
Now - the next time you practice these steps you will be strengthening that pathway and literally increasing the thickness of the myelin coating - allowing the information to travel easier and easier - faster and faster. Ultimately making it "effortless"/"second nature".
Overall it takes lots and lots of repetition. But when you aim to perform those repetitions in a very specific way, you can rest assured you're making deliberate progress and not just spinning your wheels and wasting your time and efforts.
By the way:
These steps can be condensed down to 3.
• play the song section 6 times w/ no vocals
• play the song section 6 times with a distraction (don't look)
• (attempt to) play and sing the song section at the same time.
Remember this - your goal is to create a new physical connection in your brain that will allow you to play and sing simultaneously.
Again - This takes work. This takes repetition. This takes time. But now you have a particular strategy that you can trust will get you there faster and more efficiently based on the specific way your brain and body work as opposed to just taking someones word for it.
I believe it's important to know exactly why you're doing a particular exercise. That way you know why it works, and how it will help you progress.
Thursday, January 19, 2017 by Jake Hahn | The Authentic Musician
When we create a piece of art - we're typically all alone with our thoughts and feelings - and when it comes time to share that art with the world, we instinctually become timid and full of fear at the thought of the world seeing something that we created in the intimacy of our own mind.
We ask ourselves if it's "good enough" or if it's "worthy" of standing along side the artists that we know and love - who we feel have created some of the "best" songs out there.
Those thoughts alone are a large part of the problem.
We sit and nervously ponder if others will "like" it. Hell, the "like button" seems to have become a staple of our collective - as well as individual -self-worth.
"300 likes, and 217 comments! Awesome! I MUST be good then! They like me! They REALLY like me!"
We gauge ourselves and our creations by the approval of strangers. We give them the power, and in doing so, causes us to cower away into the dark corners - hiding our art - hiding ourselves.
We let those strangers decide whether or not we are good enough. We let those strangers dictate what we do. We let those strangers control us.
(here's a quick video with some tips on how to find your own musical expression)
A few quick thoughts on: The Fear of Sharing Yourself and/or Your Music With Others.
This is by no means an exhaustive and "complete" explanation, because this is a vast topic with many, many variables at play.
This post is based on what I consider to be one of the core elements...
Solid self-esteem is the ultimate level of confidence, because with solid self-esteem, your identity is self-generated. It’s not based on what others think of you. It is about upholding your own internal code.
When you tie your identity to living up to your own standards, the only person who can harm your identity is you. Which means you’re safe everywhere, no matter who is watching.
That’s how some people know how to be confident all the time. Because their identity is never at stake. As long as they live up to their own standards, no public humiliation, rejection, or awkwardness can harm who they are.
What are the standards that high self-esteem individuals tend to have? There are many, but the core usually includes:
• I try my best
• I express myself fully
• I take responsibility for my own happiness
• I do what’s right, not what's easy
As long as your identity is “People like me” or “People look up to me” or “I am cool,” you are at the mercy of strangers’ opinions. It’s a terrible way to live. Identify with this: “I try my best to do what is right by my internal code.”
How do you know what’s right? It’s pretty simple.
• Do what scares you
• Do your best
As long as you live with and by your personal core values...you are safe.
PS - I obviously can't offer all the answers to fix this issue here (I'll never have ALL the answers), it's vast, and it's highly individual. However - I've been diligently working on it every day. Chipping away, connecting the dots, building an e-course to help you get passed all of the noise coming from others, and the static and confusion it creates in your mind. I want to help you to - Learn to listen to yourself. To trust yourself. To express yourself with authenticity.
I'll share more on that in time ;)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by Jake Hahn | self development
If you've ever studied with me - you know how I integrate psychology and neuro-scientific concepts into learning and training. I like to give answers to questions that are real, and tangible.
What is the real reason for practice?
The purpose of practice is to create a path in the brain (neuro-pathway). Just like a path worn into the ground where we walk.
The more that path is taken - the easier it is to walk on.
The more you practice a particular thing - the easier it becomes for you to play.
When this happens, it becomes subconscious. The action becomes a behavior that you no longer need to focus your conscious attention upon.
When you "bury" any action into the subconscious mind, it frees up some space in the conscious mind to begin placing your attention on new ideas and techniques.
When this cycle is repeated enough over time - you end accumulating deep seeded subconscious skills.
That's when you'll hear people say things like "you make that look so easy...".
At that point it IS easy for you. It's become a behavior. A habit.
You've done this (most-likely) unknowingly your entire life. For example: you don't have to consciously think about how to brush your teeth anymore - it's ingrained.
Make this concept part of your awareness, and you'll start to see how new musical (and life) skills are accumulated over time.
Make new skills a part of your behavior, and allow your playing to come from a truly emotional place rather than only a technical one.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Jake Hahn | Singing
I wanted to write an answer to a question that I've been getting for years and years.
"how do I keep my voice from cracking?"
Even though I don't like to see it this way, and I usually coach people another direction...it really can be embarrassing when it happens
(Even Ryan Gosling feels it...)
Not only can it leave you a bit embarrassed, it's also really frustrating! Especially if you been working on improving your voice for a good amount of time.
There are 2 main things that can cause your voice to "break". The "2 C's"
What do I mean by conditioning? Well the vocal cords are controlled by muscles that move them back and forth. They stretch them by contracting and shorten them by relaxing. Those muscles are responsible for manipulating your cords - which in turn changes your pitch (the notes). If those muscle are weak in a certain area they simply can't keep your vocal cords together and making sounds properly throughout your range. In short...they come apart. So it's a lack of conditioning. The muscles that control your vocal cords act just like any other muscle in your body. Weak is weak & strong is strong.
Constriction of certain muscle (mainly your stronger extrinsic neck muscles) cause a narrowing of the vocal tract around the voice box. When this happens, the vocal cords aren't allowed to move as freely, which can cause the cords to respond erratically at times. In turn, you end up with a vocal "break" due to the instability and lack of space/freedom for them to adjust accordingly as you move through your range.
Start to condition your muscles! Doing daily vocal exercises are your best friend here! Performing lip rolls and/or tongue trills with "sirens" is a great way to condition your instrument. Again...just like any other muscle in your body...you have to use it to strengthen it. This isn't going to just happen for you overnight. The body has rules that we have to play by in order to get it to change for the better.
Give it 15 minutes every single day! You WILL notice huge improvements in a relatively short time.
I consistently help clients correct vocal issues in a matter of minutes during sessions. It isn't "magic", and I'm not some special guru. I just know exactly what to listen and look for, and I have enough insight to help take corrective action.
You can totally do this.
As far as constriction goes - begin adding MOVEMENT to your practice.
As you sing -or- while you're performing your vocal exercises - move your head from side to side. Don't stop singing! As you get more comfortable with this head movement, start to incorporate your torso into the movement as well.
Wanna know why??
Because constriction happens when you "lock up". Your body then sends that information back to your brain saying "this is what we do while we sing...we tighten up", and the brain says "gotcha ;)". From then on you'll repeat that cycle through muscle memory.
Now...if you add some movement while you sing - the body sends that information back to the brain in the same way but with a different outcome. The body says "this is what we do while we sing...we move with freedom", and the brain says "gotcha ;)"
When you add movement your body begins to understand that it can sing while relaxing at the same time!
THIS. IS. HUGE.
Here is a vocal course that I've seen quite a few people use with great success. You can click here to check it out. Melanie put together a solid program and that's only reason I'm recommending it to ya. I know it works on the issues I stated above. So it's on the same page as my personal coaching.
There are so many choices out there, and to be honest I've seen them all (I've probably studied them all too. haha.) The truth is...there are a lot of them that work really well. I don't think you can go wrong with some of them. A good course will KEEP YOU ON TRACK making consistent progress toward your personal goal.
REST ASSURED...Your vocal break is a physical issue that can be corrected. I've experienced it personally, as well as working directly with others and seeing them overcome it first-hand.
I hope this helps!
Friday, August 26, 2016 by Jake Hahn | artist development
You grab your guitar (or whatever instrument you choose) and sit down on your couch. You choose a song and decide to give it a shot.
Have a little fun, right?
As you start to play, everything is going just fine, but then, right as you start to add in (or even THINK of) the vocal part...it all falls apart!
(okay...this is a bit extreme, but it's not too far from the truth of how it feels, am I right?)
So you gather your composure and give it another try! (because you're on a mission - and you just like playing music of course.)
You start strumming away. Everything is fine again - then boom!!...adding the vocal line brings it all to a disjointed, rhythmically messy hault.
Now, when all you really want is to express yourself and simply enjoy playing a song - this can be a real drag.
I can appreciate that, because I've been there. Hell...I STILL struggle with it at times!
So what's the deal?!
Why is playing and singing so hard to do??
Multitasking has been proven to be a myth, and what you're doing while playing and singing sure seems to be a lot like "multi-tasking", doesn't it?
So if multi-tasking is a myth, then how do you do multiple things at once??
Enter...the Reticular Activating System -or- R.A.S.
The R.A.S allows you to rapidly "flutter" from one thing to another. The issue is that you can only "flutter" between so many things at once.
Here's a quick example: right now - think about your pinky toe on your left foot.
I'm willing to bet - unless you're currently clipping that nail or getting a pedicure - that toe was one of the last things on your mind.
It's unimportant at the moment so your R.A.S puts your focus on what IS important to you in the moment.
So when you're playing guitar your R.A.S is predominantly focused on the things that allow you to play that guitar.
Strumming. Chords. Rhythm. Notes. Tempo. Feel. Etc...
Add to that remembering the lyrics, melody, vocal tone, vocal technique, "sounding good", etc...and at this point your brain is totally confused.
It doesn't know what aspect to focus on, and/or the level of importance for each of those aspects.
Here's a mind-map I made showing you this process/issue:
(this mind-map is a part of a course I've made to really dig into all of the details and answer your questions to this whole "sing & play" thing once and for all)
Sooooo....what can you do?
Divide and conquer!!
You'll need to drill the instrumental portion of the song down deep passed conscious thought and into your sub-conscious behavior.
This will free up space for the R.A.S to focus on other aspects of the song!
The brain is just awesome.
For example: Drill in a G C D chord change. It's crucial to play it the way you'd like it to sound between 12 to 16 times.
That amount of repetition is the least of what is required to make this happen.
Remember! You have to play it THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO SOUND.
You can't half heartedly play through a dozen times with a bunch of mistakes and expect the result to be anything other than messy.
This doesn't mean "perfection" (perfection is an illusion)
Simply play it as well as you can!
After 12 to 16 repetitions - pause and recite a portion of the lyric at least 6 times.
After you've done this - it's time to put them together.
Don't be too put off if it doesn't happen on this first attempt. Just take a quick break and repeat this cycle.
I promise ya it'll take hold ;)
Please feel free to send me an email or contact me via Facebook. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you're interested in my full "Sing & Play" course and would like to receive updates.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Jake Hahn | self development
“People often say that this person or that person has not yet found themselves. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates,”
- Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz.
"When you think about yourself, you tend to think in a certain way about your skills, strengths and talents. You narrowly define yourself, meaning you live life from a certain way of thinking and being, which limits your experiences.
You can re-create yourself at anytime and choose to define yourself in other ways. Explore new ways of thinking and being, and you may discover that you have talents and passions you never knew existed."
~excerpt from a brand new course I've been working on for the passed few years.~ P.O.S.E*
Our mental programming controls our life
We always do what we see ourselves doing in our mind, not what we know how to do.
I bet that at this very moment you know how to improve your skill on a guitar, you know how to get in better shape, you know how to do your job better, you know how to be more productive, you know how to have better relationships, you know how to improve your results – but you don’t do it.
Why? Because it doesn’t feel like you, right? It doesn’t fit the way you see yourself in your mind. Your self image always corresponds with your results.
It's all about self-image.
The power behind how we see ourselves, and how that translates out into the world affects our outcomes.
If you've spent time with me in a coaching session then you already know the importance I place on how you see yourself NOW...in this moment. Not off into the future.
Goal setting is great! Though without a deep-seeded core belief that you are the type of person who can achieve that goal...it's pointless. It'll never happen.
How you see yourself in this moment - and it's important to state - on an unconscious level (where habits and behaviors live) is who you are, as well as who you will become.
If you want to be a musician, actor, dancer, business-person, painter, Doctor, ice cream shop owner...whatever! You MUST begin by adjusting your self-image to match your vision!
How do you change your Self Image?
You do it through awareness and imagination.
Awareness is transformative in and of itself. The simple fact that you now know that your self image controls your life gives you the power to begin to change. From now on you’ll no longer identify yourself with every thought you get, and imagination is where you create your new life.
So how is this done? How do you take action and make the shift toward what you want?
Well, there are 2 ways that this can happen.
1. You experience a highly emotional event
A highly emotional event can impact us on a deep core level causing our mind to make a sudden shift based on the extreme emotion(s) involved. It can cut straight through - bypassing the conscious mind completely.
2. Repeat Exposure
Conscious repetition is what allows us to take a thought and begin to sort of "bury it" into the sub-conscious mind - where auto-behavior comes from.
A good example of Repeat Exposure would be: it's been shown that if you are introduced to someone new and you repeat their name at least 6 times then your mind will think it must be important enough to store for the long term, and the odds of remembering that persons name are dramatically increased.
So how do you put it into action?
Create 2 verbal phrases for Repeat Exposure. Here's a starting point. Finish each of these phrases with what you feel is in line with who you want to be.
1. I am now...
2. I am so happy that...
Once you've created your phrases (in the present moment) repeat each one aloud with some emotion behind it 6 to 8 times.
Do this daily! Maybe right after you wake up in the morning and/or before bed each night. It doesn't take long, and in time, the benefits will amaze you.
This isn't about "positive thinking" - it's about pointing your deeper thinking mind in the direction of your goal(s) and vision(s) of the person you desire to be.
*The (P.O.S.E) course I'm creating will walk you through all the details step by step.
I'm extremely excited to present it when it's done! I know it will be of great value and something that I'm very proud of.
If you'd like to be updated on its release, you can stay in touch by joining the mailing list!
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by Jake Hahn | self development
I did a little experiment.
Starting around the beginning of May I took down some very specific notes across all of my current clients. Ranging in age from 7 to 72 years old. From guitar students to my full on life coaching clients. While everyone is different, and there are countless possibilities for eliciting change in a person, one thing continually popped up in our sessions.
No measuring stick.
The problem wasn't that people didn't know what they wanted or where they wanted to go (although in some cases this was quite true) it was more about them not knowing whether or not they were actually getting there.
As a coach I use a 5 step process with a 9 step sub-process to help people make positive and measurable change toward their target(s).
For example: What happens when you're sitting at home alone about to practice your instrument with no guidance? No outside perspective? No one to point out when you've done something "correctly" or when you may need to adjust?
You need an internal compass of sorts.
So the question to ask yourself is - "How will I know when I have it?"
This is what I call an "evidence procedure".
You need a way or a "model" to gauge your progress.
Think about your last practice session - or the last time you had a general goal in your life.
Did you make progress? Did you achieve your goal? HOW do you know? Was it a feeling? How did you choose to measure your outcome? Were your results real or were they just a vague feeling of some sort of accomplishment?
I'm suggesting that you approach your next practice session with the mindset of a detective. Look for evidence. Don't simply assume that because you sat down and "practiced" for an hour that you must have gotten better. That "shotgun" approach doesn't leave enough evidence behind.
If you're learning a new song but you can't currently play 3 of the chords that are crucial for that song,
At the end of your practice session you can look back and observe that before you started you couldn't play that chord. Now, not only can you play that chord, you can also perform it as part of the overall song you're wanting to be able to play.
Measurable evidence that you just got better, and that particular practice session was well worth your time and energy.
What "evidence procedure" do YOU personally use?
Your friend and coach,
Monday, December 28, 2015 by Jake Hahn | self development
I take a seat. Lay back. Gently place my headphones on. Press play. What do I hear?
The strength and build up of a detuned distorted guitar with slight feedback letting me know that something is about to go down, and it's gonna be brutal. Followed by a truly angst-ridden vocal screech to match. Then comes the growly, hard hitting truth of the bass guitar in tandem with a chest exploding kick drum.
My skin covered in cold-chills, teeth clenched, and eyes welling up - all beyond my control.
A truly emotional reaction to what I feel as true emotional expression.
This - throughout the years - remains to be one of the single most amazing things that I've experienced.
Simply put - it’s truth.
It’s paying attention to what matters to you. Taking mental (or even physical) notes on it, and putting it into words and sounds that are natural and connected to the emotion you’ve noticed.
4 Steps To To Cultivate Your Distinct Sound:
1. Cultivate the freedom to sing differently.
2. Cultivate the freedom to interpret and tell your story.
3. Cultivate the freedom to explore.
4. Cultivate the freedom to sing how you want to sing.
Freedom: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
Let that soak in.
P.S. The song I was listening to?