In August 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to compete in a vocal competition hosted by LDS recording artist Jenny Phillips, where I also attended some workshops presented by other music industry professionals, including well-renowned producer/songwriter Tyler Castleton.
At the time, Jenny was only holding these workshops and competition every 3-5 years, in Utah--and though I was living in Montana, I happened to be visiting my parents, just a few hours away from where it was held, so I had to take advantage of the opportunity! Originally all of the participants were going to audition for Jenny a few at a time in a small room, but then the sound system wasn't working, so we ended up having to audition in front of everyone (the 150 girls attending)!
I felt good about my audition....and I made the top 10 to record as a choir for one of the songs on Jenny's upcoming album! I was also selected, along with three other girls, to have a solo part (to sing a verse) in the song! I received a $150 check as well. Not too shabby. Jenny told me she wanted to stay in contact with me for future projects, which is awesome (however, she currently isn't producing as much music anymore).
Jenny's album was released a few months later and is based off the 2016 mutual theme for the youth, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm the soloist on the 4th verse of the song "Press Forward," and I sing in the choir on the chorus part as well.
So I was actually able to participate in this competition for the first time, in 2009 as well. My older sister also competed and my parents came with. We made the top 10 and we sing in the choir in the songs "Strong and Courageous" and "Live Like You Believe," on Jenny's album.
I also submitted one of my original songs to be critiqued by Tyler Castleton, which was helpful. I was given a CD with his voice recorded on it, sharing his thoughts about my song. He gave me some tips with my writing and said, "...really fantastic voice. Way to go. You have sung a few times in your life, that is obvious."
This is the song everyone auditioned and recorded with,
for the chance to have a solo on the CD.
Whether you're interested in breaking into the music industry, or just simply enjoy singing and songwriting--here are some of my notes from the workshops I attended:
Need to be passionate about it; willing to put a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice into it.
Dedication and talent
Good values and work ethic
Be unique; think about what makes you special and don't mimic another artist's voice; be you.
Don't just go to family for feedback (turn to someone who doesn't know you); need to be able to handle critique.
It's okay to get "no" a lot; don't let that shatter your dreams; keep practicing and don't give up; you're not always going to have success, especially when just starting out.
Need to have great stylization; dynamic; have character in voice; "paint" as many colors as possible.
Being a singer is being an athlete; always warm up your vocal chords and work on your range.
You only progress as you get knowledge
Stay true to your reasons why
You need to know the rules before you can break the rules.
When it comes to songwriting, be consistent with writing style; know perspective and stick with it; be sensitive to content, subject matter, etc.
Don't get too pressed to rhyme and come up with some strange line; keep writing conversational; have a catchy hook.
Write often and regularly
Get your music out there (social media, YouTube, SoundCloud, demo CD, etc.); gain as much experience as you can performing in front of an audience; network.
Create a fan base; for someone to become a "fan," you need to give them a positive experience.
Set realistic goals and don't get discouraged; work hard and those doors will open.
Good luck and keep singing!