Whenever I tell people that I’m an empowerment through music and songwriting coach, I’m often met with questions and an interesting combination of both bewilderment and delight. I get comments like “yeah, there’s so much great music out there that can be so helpful for teens”, or “I used to listen to Pat Benetar ALL. THE. TIME. when I was a teenager and was feeling down and depressed… it helped me a lot”. And then there’s my favorite: “they just don’t make music like they used to anymore. The songs we hear on the radio… they’re so negative and filled with bad messages”.
Which, okay, sure. There is certainly some questionable material on the radio, but there’s also tonnes of inspiring, motivating and positive songs about self love, resilience, self acceptance, and self-esteem… but what if we could give ourselves – and our young people – even more than just songs to listen to on Spotify and iTunes?
What if I was to tell you that – beyond simply listening to people like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J, and Fiona Apple [or Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Pantera, and Ed Sheeran for our male positive role models], there were some surprising and empowering benefits from some of the aspects when it comes to what I do as an empowerment through music and songwriting coach, specifically:
- Singing and posture
- Breathing for singing
- Writing music
But first: to set the mood while you read this blog post, here’s a list of songs about self love, strength, honoring your inner voice, and self empowerment for you to listen to:
“Lose You to Love Me” – Selena Gomez
“Good As Hell” by Lizzo
Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld
“I Love Me” – Meghan Trainor
“Pushover” – Etta James
“Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera
“No Scrubs” – TLC
“Thank u, next” – Ariana Grande
Scars to Your Beautiful – Alessia Cara
“Firework” by Katy Perry
“If You Don’t Love Yourself” – The Script
“Fabulous” – Ally Brooke
Be Your Own Girl – The Wallflowers
“No Tears Left to Cry” – Ariana Grande
“Stronger Woman” – Jewel
“Greatest Love of All” – Whitney Houston
“Truth Hurts” – Lizzo
“The Way I Am” – Charlie Puth
“ME!” by Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie
“Self Love” by Savannah Cristina
“The Voice Within” – Christina Aguilera
“Freckles” – Natasha Bedingfield
“Perfect to Me” – Anne-Marie
“Solo De Mí” by Bad Bunny
After the Storm – Kali Uchis ft. Tyler, The Creator, Bootsy Collins
“Who You Are” – Jessie J
“I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
Independent Women, Pt. 1 – Destiny’s Child
“Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys
Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
feeling myself – nicki minaj ft beyonce
walk away – kelly clarkson
Of course, most of these songs are on my Kickstart the Morning Right Spotify playlist, but – again – listening is only one small part of our journeys.
We can do much more when it comes to using music to help us all boost, build and maintain confidence. Shall we dig in?
Singing and Posture
We all know how integral posture is when it comes to our physical health, so I’m not even going to go into the practical and physical benefits of ensuring we maintain healthy posture, but when it comes to posture for singing? Not only does it align PERFECTLY with the correct posture that helps minimize back pain and other physical ailments, but, as I tell every single vocal client, when we stand confidently: our voices have the room to sound confident. To take this one step further: when our bodies appear confident on a physical level, it can almost trick our minds into starting to believe that we’re confidence as well.
After all: our minds believe whatever it is we feed it, so when we feed it confidence on a cellular level, we start to adopt that same belief on a cognitive level.
So what does that look like? Years ago, when I first started vocal coaching, my clients and I came up with an acronym: SHIRTFaN. In other words:
By standing with this posture adopted, we’re not only able to assist our bodies better by allowing us to breathe properly [and breath is definitely the basis of all good vocal technique], but it’s also an empowering stance that helps us to reprogram our [potentially] insecure mind to start believing that we actually are confident.
It’s a win-win!
Breathing for Singing
Okay, so we’ve made room for your breath so that you can sing properly, but did you know that breathing can do more than just keep you alive and aid your perfect pitch? It turns out that the way we breathe can have a significant impact on our mental and physical well-being as well.
I tell my vocal clients all the time – especially my female teen clients – we are often taught to breathe from our chest [which I un-affectionately refer to as the “damsel in distress breath”], because from the outset: it helps us to appear taller, and also contributes to the narrative that we’re “thinner” than we would appear to be if we were to breathe properly.
However, shallow, upper chest breathing is not only filling only half the tank, but it also often a result of stress, and can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and tension. By consciously breathing from your diaphragm, you can decrease your stress levels and increase your confidence.
Further: when you breathe from your abdomen, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to control your body’s response to stress. This encourages your body to relax, allowing you to feel more at ease and less tense. In fact, there are a whole range of health benefits associated with this type of breathing, including improved digestion, reduced muscle tension, and increased mental clarity.
I’ve said this time and time again: music is like the security blanket of effective communication. Especially if you are a Gen Zer or young person who struggles to find the right words to express yourself, or loses all confidence mid-conversation.
Let’s face it: we’ve raised a generation on television and social media apps, so it’s any wonder that they struggle with effective communication… but creative tools like songwriting can help teenagers not only find the right vocabulary to express themselves authentically, but helps them do it in a way that isn’t so daunting. Singing one’s truth is a lot less overwhelming than simply speaking it out loud – especially if that truth is sung along to a catchy beat.
Okay, but wouldn’t it be easier to just sing along to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” or Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” as a way of trying to express ourselves?
Sure… but giving young people permission and the tools to step into their own voice – and express their opinions, thoughts and feelings through their own lyrics, as opposed to the lyrics of others can be monumental.
It's All About Ownership
I believe one of the core issues when it comes to matter of self love, confidence, and communication boils down to one thing: a sense of ownership.
So often, it’s easy to fall trap to wanting to fit in, conform, or impress that we forget that we are conductor of our own lives. We are the one’s that are in charge of deciding who we are, who we want to be, and what kind of life we want to lead. Without that sense of self esteem, knowledge and love: it’s hard to be someone who can both look at themselves honestly and confidently in the mirror, and show up effectively for whatever it is that life throws at us.
But these three simple components to music can drastically change the way we show up for ourselves – and the world.
By standing confidently: we’re telling the world who we are, and who we’re becoming. Most importantly: we’re telling ourselves that we go this.
By learning to breathe effectively, as we do in vocalization, we are able to lower our cortisol [stress] levels, and become more calm and confident in the process.
And by writing and singing our truth: we’re able to show up, communicate and express our truth honestly, powerfully, and confidently. Lyrics talk. The songs we sing: talk. It’s important to ensure that the lyrics we’re singing are actually in alignment with who we are, who we’re becoming, and who we want to be.
After all: this is your life… in order to fully own yourself, it’s important to own the theme music that goes along with it.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. These things take time. Learning to stand properly for our bodies, minds and spirits… it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Learning to breathe effectively for our voice projection, and for stress reduction… it’s a journey, not a destination. And giving ourselves time and permission to delve into those parts of our minds, hearts and souls to channel our stress and struggles into song… it’s a process.
And that’s why I’m here. To help you to write your own self love anthem, create your own empowering song of strength and resilience, and – most of all – reclaim your voice, and your story: one song at a time.