How To Cultivate A Unique And Distinct Voice

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.


What Is It - And How Can You Do It?

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.

  • You don’t sound like your favorite artist(s). Period. And that is a great thing. The reason your favorite artist(s) are your favorite(s) is because they sound like themselves. Listen to your own voice. record it. Listen back. Find the thing(s) that stand out to you as unique. Not the things that “sound good” to you, but the things that are distinct. Embrace them over time. This isn’t about what you want to be - it’s about who you are.

     2. Cultivate the freedom to interpret and tell your story.

  • How do you see thing? What’s your opinion? It’s all colored and shaped by your unique perspective. Your life experiences. How do you say things? Pay attention to that. What type of words do you use? Don’t change those things...embrace them.

     3. Cultivate the freedom to explore.

  • Get curious, then stay that way. Explore your artistry - quite literally. Imagine an exploration. Imagine the details of that exploration. Consider all things involved in it. If you were an archeologist on a dig - sometimes you’d use a shovel, and sometimes you’d use a dust-brush. Treat your artistry in the same fashion. Explore it.

     4. Cultivate the freedom to sing how you want to sing.

  • Bottom line: you will feel the most alive, expressive, sincere, and genuine when you just let it all go. Just be. Actively search for ways to allow yourself the freedom to let-it-rip. Notice your voice, but don’t judge it. Don’t listen to yourself all the time. Listen to your gut. Feel what you want to say. If you feel sad and distant...let your voice sound sad and distant. If you feel aggressive...let your voice burn (don’t hurt yourself:) What do you sound like when you are happy? What does your speaking voice feel like when you are lonely? Pay close attention to how you naturally react to emotion. Study some of your favorite actors and note some of these nuances - then find them in yourself.



Freedom: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

Let that soak in.

Own it.

Be it.

         - Jake


P.S. The song I was listening to? 

How To Make A Connection With Your Audience

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Uncategorized


How do you classify emotional expression in music? Well - to do that - you first have to classify emotional expression in humans.


People say things like:

  • “that was touching”
  • “that gave me chills”
  • “that was moving”
  • “wow”
  • “that was sick”
  • “you have to see them live! Unreal”
  • etc…


People also say things like:

  • “yeah, it was nice”
  • “it was pretty cool”
  • “pretty good”
  • “eh”
  • “he/she had an alright voice”
  • “at least they hit the notes”
  • “that one part was kinda catchy”
  • etc…


But why? What's the difference?


True. Human. Emotional. Connection.


That's the difference. It means so much - that I can barely express it to you with these little black letters on this stark-white page.

And the truth is - no matter how hard I try - these typed words may fall flat! Causing no emotional response in you whatsoever.

But if you take the time to search yourself with the following perspective in mind - you may just find something interesting happens.


Gut instincts are real. That initial feeling you get from an experience tells you so much.


When I work with musicians on true self-expression - this is my mantra:

“If you truly feel it - the listener will too.”


That's all you have to do.


It's pure intention. The moment you find yourself thinking about expression or you attempt to “do something”...you've lost it.

You've moved from emotion to logic.

The goal is to stay with youremotion. Just feel. It's truly that simple. This is the answer to real emotional expression.




The moment you become self conscious…

You've lost it.

The moment you TRY to move the listener…

You've lost it.

The moment you wonder how you sound...

You've lost it.

The moment you look at yourself through the eyes of the listener…

You've lost it.


Think about it for a moment.


In the past - if you've been driven to tears for one reason or another - you didn't TRY to cry. You didn't MAKE the tears come. You didn't actively persuade your brain to cause the chain reaction it took to deeply feel what you felt and bring you to that particular emotional response.




You simply felt - and your emotion brought about your uncontrollable physical reaction.

I use the word reaction purposefully - because you had no control over it. You were compelled by your emotion, and no matter how hard you fought - you couldn't stop the tears from falling.

Staying with your emotion is paramount for self-expression.


Here are a few visual examples: Can you spot the REAL and the FAKE?

In A Hug:

insincere hug.png sincere hug.jpg


In a facial expression:

poser face Kim.jpg  michael-fassbender-look.jpg


In a live performance situation:

justin bieber poser.jpg  jbannon real.jpg

For example:

When I coach vocalists in the “hardcore” genre - I typically have this to say from the start: “don't scream if you don't have anything to scream about. Screaming is aggressive. Screaming is passionate. In nature, screaming is an all-out guttural, visceral reaction. If it's contrived...we will know, and we won't believe you.”


Same goes for “clean singing” -  and every other musical aspect for that matter.

It isn’t about an “emotional look on your face” or clinching and pumping your fist with “passion”. Not unless your raw emotion(s) summon those reactions from the gut. Viscerally.


So in quick summary:

This isn't about “sounding good” - it's about being real.

No posing. No characters to play. No nonsense.

Being genuine and sincere is a matter of simply being genuine and sincere.


You can't TRY. You don’t try. You just DO....from the gut.

Use Your Head

Monday, December 7, 2015 by Jake Hahn | self development

Really cool video about what happens inside of us when we listen to music - or better yet - when we create music! Check it out!

Your Voice

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 by Jake Hahn | artist development

It can be easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to artists that we love.

After-all, we wouldn't be listening to them if we didn't think they had a great sound, right?

But if taken too far, we can lose ourselves in the imitation of these artists, which can cause us to lose sight of why we want to make music to begin with.

Don't get caught up in "sounding good".


 it's not really the sound of your voice that's appealing...

it's the sound of what's inside your voice.

Don't imitate.

Stay in-the-moment with your voice.

Avoiding Distractions

Friday, September 11, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

Remember: there's a drastic difference between knowing something intellectually, and the physical embodiment of that thing.

Just because you KNOW it, doesn't mean you "got it".

For example: You may know 20 different chord voicings, but can you apply them in different and interesting combinations (progressions)?

Can you then play them at a multitude of tempos (WITH a metronome) for 4 or 5 minutes without fail? Can you play them with different rhythmic variations? Arpeggiate them? Play loudly? Softly? Finger-pick them? etc...

There are so many ways to improve your musicianship; and most of the time the answer lies in musical variation of "simple" information.

• Choose one idea

• Explore it deeply

The hunt for new information can be a distraction from what is truly needed to grow your musicianship.

Songwriting Challenge!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

Below, I've put together a framework of "raw material" to get you going.

GOAL: start this song - develop this song - finish this song - in 1 week or less!

Keep in mind - you're NOT aiming for perfection here. Just get a fairly solid demo version...a "first draft". Then we'll take it from there.

Ready. Set. Go!

Title: "Steady Hands"

Theme: Write about something you've lost. This could be an object, a person, a relationship etc.. Try to answer the questions. Such as... • how did you handle it? • why is it a loss? • how did you feel before you lost it/them? • how do you feel now? • can you get it/them back? • do you want it/them back?

Layout: Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus 

(FREE printable template - CLICK HERE)

Chord Progression:

• Verse - Am | F | Am | F  x2

• Chorus - C | G | Am | G  x2

• Bridge - Em | Em | Am | G  (don't repeat)

As always. If you have any questions, shoot me a message or leave a comment below to let me know if I can help!

Your friend & coach

- Jake

#LetsGetBetterTogether #CreateYourArt


Quick Tip: Using Open Strings

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

ALL open strings work in conjunction with these 3 keys.

C Major/A minor

G Major/E minor

D Major/B minor

No matter where you are on the fretboard - whether you're playing single notes or fretting chords - try incorporating some open strings to liven up your sound.

[video demonstration coming soon]

Below (fig #4) is an example of a lick that utilizes open strings.


5 Ways To Write A Stronger Lyric

Monday, June 15, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

Writing lyrics can be tough. It's easy to get stuck "in-your-head". It can also be tough to critique your own song, because, I mean...YOU wrote it, right? Of course that's what you meant to say! If not - you wouldn't have written it in the first place! Right??

Well...not so fast.

If you're anything like all the other humans out there in the world, you make sense of things through your emotions. The issue is that emotions are very internal. YOU feel how you feel, but the listener doesn't! So your job as a songwriter is to COMMUNICATE your internal feelings to a listener!

I've listed 5 ways to check your lyrics as you write them. They're also very beneficial for checking a "finished" lyric as well. Go through one of your songs now; and see if you can strengthen it by writing another draft using these 5 points!


1. Identify Potentially Weak Lines: • try to strengthen them by adding an image - or a comparison to SHOW the listener what you mean.

2. Check Your Rhymes: • Keep rhymes conversational. • Try not to draw attention to them. • Preserve the natural word order of speech.

3. Answer The Listeners Questions: • Eliminate unclear references.

4. Say What You Mean: • Be conversational • Use some direct statements • This adds believability to your song

5. Develop Your Story: • Don't use information from Verse 1 in Verse 2...the listener has already been there. • move your story forward. • Zoom into your story • Zoom out • Give each section its own identity within your overall theme.


Your friend & coach


It's All In How YOU See It.

Monday, June 8, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

It's simple. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.

I'm all about taking seemingly simple or typical things and working to craft them in interesting ways.

There seems to be a tendency in a lot of people to write-off simplicity. As if in order to make something really creative and cool, they have to use complex ideas.

In my opinion - this is a mistake.

Simple ideas - seen from a creative standpoint - are usually what lead to profound works of art.

Let's put this into action real quick by writing a song.

Try this.


VERSE: (use this progression)
||: D D E A :||

CHORUS: (use this progression)
||: F#m F#m E E :||

YOUR LAYOUT: - (V = Verse & C = Chorus)

Creative Perspective #1

Play this structure with "open position chords" at 75bpm. Use a basic strum pattern here. Whatever you'd like.

example: VIDEO 1 click HERE

Creative Perspective #2:

Play through the structure again, but place a capo at the second fret. This will change the voicing's but the chords will stay the same. Play it again at around 75bpm with whatever rhythm you choose, but pay close attention to how you perceive it differently than concept #1.

example: VIDEO 2 click HERE

The only thing that has changed is the chord voicing's. Different voicing's tend to cause you to change the way you think about what you're playing. This ultimately leads you to new sounds and new possibilities for the SAME EXACT chord movements.

Same information. New perspective.

New territory = New vision.

There are literally countless ways to approach basically everything. The cool stuff comes from YOU.

We're all using the same stuff. All dipping from the same well.

Show us how YOU hear a song!


If you change the way YOU look at things, the things you look at will change.

Your friend and coach
- Jake

[NEW PODCAST] Dissecting The Art of Songwriting

Friday, May 15, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Blog

Here's the story...

About a month ago I was asked to co-host a brand new podcast. I replied with a very enthusiastic "ABSOLUTELY!" I'll tell ya flat out...I'm a podcast kinda guy. I listen to 'em in the shower, on the road, in the gym (during cardio ONLY - I have my limits).

Needless to say - I do love to learn.

One of my main reasons for learning is that I truly love to pass my knowledge along to you.

That's why I LOVE teaching, coaching, and mentoring so much.

I get to engage with YOU! I get to form a meaningful connection and build a life experience!


So when Darren Cooper invited me to co-host, you can see why I jumped at the opportunity.

Connecting with YOU on another level?! Sign me up!

So this is the first ever "Create Your Art" Podcast...

And the very first interviewee??

This dude!

(aka me - aka dude posing like George Michael)

I was asked to talk about a subject so near-and-dear to my heart...


In the podcast you'll hear me talk a bit about some of my own personal creative roadblocks, and how I navigate my way through them (or around them) in order to create my art. My music.

I give you some tips on how to overcome your own roadblocks, as well as a cool little challenge for you to join in!

There are so many cool things planned for you in the very near future. I couldn't be more excited to play a part in your life. To help you see that you are an artist right now...in this very moment. And to help you through any creative blocks or issues that you may be experiencing.

Know this.


You have support here. It is CRUCIAL that YOU Create Your Art!

The world needs it...

The world needs YOU.

So...please enjoy the - Create Your Art [Podcast] CLICK HERE!!

And most importantly - #CreateYourArt

-Your Friend and Coach -Jake Hahn