Roger Love on TEDxBend, His New Book, and Hope
By Rebecca R. Peterson
Even the most successful among us can doubt themselves. One of TEDxBend 2016’s most popular and energetic speakers, Roger Love, Hollywood vocal coach, opened up about his insights and surprising nervousness speaking at TEDxBend.
The famed vocal coach, whose long client list includes John Mayer, Reese Witherspoon, and the cast of Glee, is perfectly comfortable on stage. “I have my own events, I’m flown all over the world, I feel competent and grateful, and after a lifetime of trying to be a great speaker, I feel I’ve come very far along that ladder up,” said Love.
At the TEDxBend event, however, Love (like all TEDxBend Speakers) was assigned a coach which, given his experience, he doesn’t normally have. His coach was tremendously helpful in visualizing and editing his content to what the TEDxBendaudience would want to hear while his delivery and presentation were spot on.
At the end of the coach’s editing process, his script was approved and perfectly timed, which Love felt meant he should memorize his presentation word-for-word, a dramatic break from his usual free-flowing style. Normally before a speaking event, Love might be enjoying lunch in a local cafe or making new friends, but the desire to memorize during his prep time relegated him to his hotel room and left him feeling surprisingly nervous.
At the live event, “I got through like the first minute or so, and the audience was great. I am loving them and they are loving me,” he said. And then suddenly…his mind went blank and he couldn’t remember anything. His memorized speech was gone. After briefly considering running off-stage, he stalled “for what seemed like 4 hours” and purposely placed both hands to his lips so that he could time the stall on the video playback. (If you watch the video, you’ll see that it’s actually less than 3 seconds). His brain refired and he decided to work how he does best, without the memorized speech. The result was an insightful, impactful presentation that gave listeners meaningful and tangible ideas for progress.
Obviously, we are not all professional speakers, but we can learn from Love to be confident in what we do well and feel comfortable using our talents to the best of our ability, just as Love learned to “say what I know is going to be fantastic.”
Set Your Voice Free
Love’s book, Set Your Voice Free, comes out December 27. In it, he discusses his idea of “Shared Frequencies.” When boys and girls are young, their voices sound a lot alike because they share a similar range of pitch, making it easy for them to talk with one another. As it does for so many things, puberty, however, alters this dynamic. Shared Frequencies teaches men to work in their higher ranges and women, their lower ranges, connecting different genders in communication.
Love on Hope
“I grew up pouring my heart out singing “Little Fall of Rain” as a hopeful Eponine, and menacingly screeching the high E, mimicking Christine in Phantom – oh, children of the 80s. As that dreamer, I spent several years training with a few different voice teachers but was never cast in any really great roles, and only in the last few years realizing, ‘maybe I wasn’t actually very good.’ Some dreams are hard to squash I guess.”
So when I got the chance to speak with a prominent, successful vocal coach like Roger Love, I just had to ask: Can an amazing singing voice really be taught? I had spent several years working at it without a ton of success. To my genuine surprise, Love answered with a resounding YES.
Here’s the deal, according to Love. Some people, Beyonce for example, are born with a physiological advantage – the right thickness and length of vocal cords, good nasal passages, etc. Love says these people, as kids, may discover that they “sound better at “Happy Birthday” than other people and then they decided to spend years honing that skill.” Such effort can make them an A.
Then take kids whose “Happy Birthday” rendition stinks and makes their parents plug their ears. If these people try to learn what mother nature did not give them – they play the piano, they sing every day, they sign up for choir – they still won’t be an A, but they can get to an A-. “It’s about how hard you want to work,” said Love. “Almost every single artist I work with isn’t born with a ton. Every so often, an Adele comes along, but the truth is 85% of all successful singers weren’t born with it.”
What this news means for me is hope. Looking back on my training, I did take a lot of lessons and loved to sing, but I preferred to skip to “boring” scales and vocal workouts that probably would have helped the most. Had I put my head down, and pushed through all that hard work, would that have helped? Maybe so.
My dreams of dying in Marius’ arms aren’t likely to be resurrected now, but I am happier knowing that even if I didn’t win the genetic lottery, I can still choose to dive in on anything I choose and make something fantastic. Thanks for rekindling the passion, Mr. Love.