The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Do Something Stupid

One thing I cannot stand is cowardice. As a person that spent a great deal of his life in fear of many a thing, I cannot tolerate it's presence in my life any longer.

I'm much more understanding of fear that you've come to acquire from experience. We can't help the events or situations in our paths that shape us psychologically. The mind is a weird and powerful tool and fate is ugly. However, fear that is instilled in you by others disgusts me. 

Training and singing are fraught with this kind of stuff. Teachers and trainers love to make people so afraid of exercises, repertoire and technique. It's like they get off on it. They prop their hypothesis up with all of these sound bites that are easily digestible, memorable, and repeatable. It's like they are politicians trying to secure your vote.

To anybody that says they can't:

Have you even tried????!?

Although I don't like cross fit and honestly feel like it's kind of a cult and not an optimal way to build muscle and strength, I'm not gonna dog on it on this blog. Why? I've never tried it. I've read a whole bunch of crap about it and heard testimonies about how great it is and I've heard enough YouTube rants about how terrible it is to formulate an opinion, but I'm not going to completely dog on something until I at least try it. I have the same philosophy with food.

This is my issue with most authorities. They speak and talk about subjects very aggressively with which their experience is limited to what they have read on paper. Research and experimentation go hand in hand, my friends. One without the other makes hypothesis, not scientific fact.

Just because someone is an authority doesn't mean they are correct all the time. Experts are wrong every day. That's part of being a scientist, proving your points one year just to refute them the next.

Sometimes you just gotta be stupid and do the damn thing.

Are something's not worth the risk? I've heard Russian roulette gives you a high you'll never feel anywhere else. Never gonna do it though! But there are things that people will write off just because of stigma and indoctrinated bull shit.


Do you even sing?!?!?

I have this video on the internet from when I was a bigger dude.

In this video I sing from a Low C 2 to a tenor High C 5. I made this video like 3 years ago and I still get comments asking "How do you do that?" "Did your teacher teach you that?" My teacher taught me a great deal of things, but he did not teach me how to do this. This came from always trying to sing both of these notes constantly when I was developing my voice. In choir, I always wanted to be the low bass, and in my car I always wanted to sing the high C in Che Gelida Manina. Would I sing so hard and aggressively that I couldn't sing the rest of my repertoire for the rest of the day? You bet your ass I did, but I figured out a way of doing this from practice, research, and experimentation.

So many people say they can't sing high notes. Have you even tried? How many ways have you experimented with mouth position, tongue placement, breath support, more breath, less breath, feet placement, physical cues. Have you seen how messed up and stupid looking some of the greats looked when they sang their brilliant high notes? Half of them look like damned fools, but they sing like gods. Sometimes you have to go outside of the frameworks your teacher has set for you. You have to trust that you're a capable and smart person and know that nobody knows your instrument better than you (sensations and feelings are all you have on stage. Your voice teacher won't be there.)

Make whatever judgments you will on my voice and technique, you will regardless, but a cowardly singer I am not. The minute I let fear dictate how I sang is when everything fell apart. But that is a year I will never relive vocally. I don't care if I crack, go sharp, or make the biggest ugliest noise you have ever heard. Even if it's terrible, I'll learn from it.

Another story:

When I first started singing I was considered a bass-baritone by everyone (some people still think this.) Friends, teachers, other students. However, whenever I started discovering an easier transition into my high voice, it was becoming clear to me that I was much more of a baritone. My teacher and I experimented with a few arias, but I was having difficulty with the repertoire and I wasn't sure of it. The semester ended and we breaked for summer. That summer I didn't have one voice lesson. I listened to Sherrill Milnes and Leonard Warren sing Verdi arias and Robert Goulet sing classic standards while singing along. I delivered food and sang all day in my car along with these great voices, singing high notes I never thought I'd be capable of singing. G's, Aflats, A naturals, B flats, B naturals, C naturals! I came back to school the next semester and my voice had doubled in size, my range had increased and all of a sudden a great deal of repertoire was open to me. Was my voice still a mess? Oh, God yes! I had developed a horrible hook, I couldn't sing a closed vowel to save my life, and my primo passaggio was a travesty. However, I took leaps forward through the comfort of these crutches that I had discovered. (Plus, I can still do the most fuckin awesome hook that people love to hear in Italian verismo. Or at least I do. Nothing like it.)

The point is this. I would not have progressed so much vocally during that summer had I not decided to stretch myself by doing the verdi repertoire un supervised. I wasn't going to learn how to sing high notes by jumbling through papageno's arias or even something more lyrical like bella siccomo un angelo. I needed something heavy hitting so I could really dig deep and find the meat in my gut.

Someone once said to me that "you don't learn how to sing high notes by singing high notes."....Uh, yes you do. I have a high C, I didn't learn how to do that by NOT singing high C's.

I understand trusting and loving your teacher. I trust and love my teacher with every fiber of my being, but I'm not going to let that keep me from trying new things and stretching myself artistically and vocally.

Intermittent fasting:

Do you even fast, bro?!

People have been preaching the doctrine of "don't eat after 7pm!" for god damn ages. I'm sure Mary made sure Jesus put down that slice of matzoh bread if the sun dial read past 6:45, and I'm sure he agreed with no back talk because that Jesus is a good kid. However, the minute you skip breakfast people are lining up to nail you to the crucifix. (This was a bad series of religion jokes. My apologies.)

Now, am I saying that intermittent fasting is the only way to get super shredded and build vast amounts of muscle on your frame. Fuck No!!! I'm saying it's a tool that has had studies correlating benefits to eating less frequently including this study on rats (which if you're going to write off studies in rats [which I'm usually inclined to do] you better write off all of these advancements.) Is it for everyone? No, but for the average fairly active healthy American, you may find some amazing results. I have, and so have hundreds of other people looking to lose weight or to gain muscle with limited fat acquired along the way.

Don't be afraid of trying something that could be potentially beneficial towards your goals. Especially if there is little risk involved. What's the worst that could happen if you skipped breakfast for a couple of weeks? You'll be hungry and irritable? Aren't you already hungry and irritable from being on a diet? I'm being ridiculous, but so are people who think intermittent fasting is "irresponsible." If you don't see any progress and you hate it, don't do it. But, if you write it off automatically because of something someone else said or old research, then you're really not thinking for yourself.


I'm being dead serious with this one..

Do you even fuckin lift?!?!?

Most dudes aren't afraid to lift, and even if they were, our societal pressures automatically market them to be a stereotype in other ways. They could easily go to the gym tomorrow, crawl underneath a bar and people wouldn't think much of it as far as it being a strange sight. 

However, when a woman enters the free weight side of the gym and does more than 20 reps of tricep kick backs on each arm with 5lb weights, people stare. 

Bros be like:

Bitches be like:

Old dudes be like:

Even when people are being positive, it's still creating a different kind of stigma. This is one of the beauties of cross fit, they have opened up a world of lifting to thousands of women who now feel strong and empowered by the fact that they can now do much more than they ever thought they could. That's not only called being progressive, it's also called a fantastic business model (let that one sink in.)

This stigma of women becoming men because they lift weights, who is benefiting from this bull shit sermon?

I know I'll be beating this horse to death for the rest of my life, but dammit I will be heard. Women don't have the testosterone to get really big and bulky. If you see a woman who is big and bulky she is either injecting testosterone into her body or she is a genetic outlier. More than likely she is doing drugs though.

I've shared this article dozens of times with women who ask me about weight lifting, but I'll also share this girls Youtube Channel and This Picture and be finished with my soap box for today.

Don't let cowardice rule your choices. In other words...

Do something stupid.

1 comment:

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