Most of us were not born
knowing how to sing
beautifully or consistently.
Or.,. were we?
Our environment (things like climate, air quality, size of family, listening ability of family, education, speech and singing habits of our role models and peers, etc) taught us things that seemed like a good idea at the time but that now get in our way of a clean, pure and efficient vocal production. Or it may have just been what we imitated as we were growing up. Most probably we didn’t even notice it happening. We picked up these habits unconsciously.
And these habits can get in the way of our natural design and coordination. They can make our voice seem less than beautiful to our ears, and they can make our voice seem like a wayward, disobedient child.
I’m not saying we should blame anyone, least of all ourselves or our parents. We all do the best we can with the knowledge and information we have.
Let me give you an example:
After I began studying singing, my mother told me the story of how she had a very high, squeaky voice when she was younger. She could sing high notes easily, but she hated the way her voice made her sound a bit of a light-weight (or so she thought). So she manufactured a deeper, lower voice to sound more serious and intelligent. She gradually adopted this new voice as a habit. Then I came along. And copied her as I learned to speak. And I probably adopted this new way of making sound in place of my natural way of singing. And guess what? I’ve always found it difficult to access the upper register of my voice.
I’m. not. blaming. my. mother.
It’s something I’ve come to accept, and something I have to keep working on for my entire singing lifetime. It’s one of the things that has kept me on the journey I’m on.
So, I’m NOT blaming my mother. What I’m saying is that a lot of the work of learning to sing well – or beautifully – is the work of:
• identifying those funky habits we picked up
• learning to cooperate with our own unique design
• learning what seems like a different approach to making sound but is actually closer to what you probably knew when you were born
• understanding human design and movement in a very simple and accessible way (I’m not going to get all scientific on you)
This might sound like a lot of work, but if you remember that we didn’t have to be taught how to scream a healthy, unimpeded scream as a baby, you might have more faith in the fact that your system really knows what to do deep down.
And my experience is that when we make a change in our habitual patterns that immediately makes singing easier, it’s a lot easier than trying to change a habit where the benefits of the change are slow to reveal themselves.
There are of course, other factors in finding the unique and authentic beauty in your voice, like purifying your vowels and sharpening your consonants. But this story is long enough, so I’ll save that story for another day.