The Value of Volunteering – Toronto Markham Wedding Singer

I am a firm believer in sharing your talents to help or enhance the lives of others.  So many people have skill sets that they tend to  keep to themselves or demonstrate only if the price is right. And I am not only referring to musicians. This could be a chef, a comedian, a dancer etc.

One of the greatest memories I have of singing is from certain gigs at the start of my singing career when I volunteered my services. Not only did I find this allowed me to share my talents with others who appreciated my music, but it also helped in my development as a singer. When I started off as a solo artist back in the early 2000s, my main goal was to improve my on stage presence and control my nerves. Although I had performed on some of the biggest stages in Toronto with St. Michael’s Choir School (i.e. Massey Hall and Roy Thompson Hall) I was able to remain anonymous among the company of a couple hundred other choristers. However, as a soloist, nerves is something that you have to be able to control when you are front and center on a stage performing for an audience, or singing that special songs for the wedding couple on their special day. Usually, the only way to do so is through performing as much as possible.

Early in my career, I could have told myself that I would only wait for paying gigs before offering my singing services. I am sure glad that I didn’t because I would have missed out on amazing opportunities for growth and developing as a soloist. Whether it is a paying gig or not, you are still presented with the same challenges that you must overcome and deal with in order to give your best performance; that being the battling of nerves and proper song selection.

The analogy I like to use is a student who is fresh out of University and looking to start a career. Chances are when that individual goes for her first interview, the employer will ask about her work experience. Since one is quicker to gain experience volunteering as oppose to asking for pay, an eager student may have decided to stack her resume through volunteering her time at different companies and supplementing this with some paying jobs. Juxtapose this with another student whose resume is not as well rounded as it only lists a couple of paid positions they were able to secure during their time in school. Chances are the individual with the volunteer and paid work experience will be more knowledgeable and better well rounded.

I’m not trying to say that musicians should offer their service pro-bono because musicians are definitely one of the most underappreciated and underpaid groups of individuals. However, those starting out trying to master their craft should never underestimate the value and experience you gain from volunteering your services. It’s good karma as you are sharing your talents with others and it also gives you that experience you need to take your performance to the next level.

Volunteering is also a good way to help quickly define your brand. I’ve been very fortunate to volunteer my services for the Ronald McDonald House, sing at fundraisers for the Hospital for Sick Kids, Grandview Kids and the Liberal Party of Canada. Being a gala singer is now something that I can include as part of my brand.

Remember that when starting out, “It’s not the size of audience you have that matters. It’s the impact you have on your audience that matters the most.”

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