12/09/2011 08:51 am ET Updated Feb 08, 2012

You Don't Have to Win 'American Idol' to be a Singer!

Becoming a singer doesn't require you to have a record deal with Hollywood Records or winning record deals on shows like American Idol, America's Got Talent, and more. I'm not famous but I call myself a singer because it's my passion and because singing is my special gift.

I grew up surrounded by family and friends who encouraged music and it was my parents that, at the time, forced me to join a girls' choir when I was as young as an elementary student. I was able to build up my voice but outside of it I got no private voice lessons, like the professionals do. The girls' ensemble broke up and before I knew it, my mom had already scheduled me to audition for another choir.

I auditioned for Korean co-ed choir and got accepted as a member in 2000, when I was in third grade. We sang both Korean and American classics, in addition to traditional religious choir songs. A couple of times, we had the privilege of performing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Mets Stadium, now known as Citifield. 10 years later, the conductor formed an ensemble branching out from the choir, and this time I was a junior in high school.

Not only that, but I also sang at my church during Christmas services and special events that were held annually. Throughout middle school and high school, I took chorus as my elective, instead of orchestra and the pep band. Through my chorus teacher, I went for the NYSSMA Evaluation Festivals where I was to perform a song and sight-read notes that were relevant to my level of singing in front of a judge that gave me a grade and comments on a long sheet of paper. It was only until that time when I worked with a private instructor. After successfully doing well on my Level 5 and 6 NYSSMA Evaluations, I got chosen to be a part of the All-County Chorus, which performed in front of many, the following January.

Now, I am a 20-year old junior studying Journalism at St. John's University still pursuing my passion for singing. Even though my choir years are over, I perform for offering praise occasionally at our church service. Upon entering St. John's, I joined Army ROTC but left the program after two years. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at their annual events. Recently, I was given the privilege to be one of the performers for the national anthem at St. John's mens' and womens' basketball games.

To the many aspiring singers out there, here are some suggestions I would love to give to you:

1. Seek and grab opportunities to show off the singer in you! (ex: community concerts, talent shows, church, family events, etc.)
2. Don't be shy! It's your time to shine. Show people what you got!
3. Never stop practicing. Sing in the shower or release your inner rock star when you're at home alone.
4. Record a cover of your favorite songs & upload them to YouTube! Justin Bieber got famous by doing that, you can too.
5. Use criticism to improve. Not all criticism from listeners/viewers will be good but listen to their suggestions and make it a mission to improve your singing.
6. Never ever give up! This is your passion. Don't let harsh criticism bring you down. "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." - A Cinderella Story
7. Sing with your heart! Lyrics and the melody mean nothing without emotion and expression.

Happy Singing! :)