“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
One of my favorite experiences in the voice studio is listening for what someone’s voice has to say. Let me explain –
Many years ago Tom Blaylock, of the Northwest Institute of Voice, taught me how to listen to a voice instead of superimposing preconceived ideas or judgements onto it during a voice assessment. This requires the judgemental mind (ego) to take a back seat so one can relax and observe. The observation period of an assessment often requires closed eyes in order to focus entirely on the sound and empathic/emotional feelings associated with the voice, with some quick visual checks to see if what is heard matches what can be seen in the body.
We are talking about 3 levels of helpful information here: auditory, empathic or feeling perception, and visual. I realize not everyone feels empathically, so that element might not exist for you.
If I am successful in truly observing a voice, it will speak volumes about what it needs and where it enjoys “hanging out.” Often this manifests as a female voice demonstrating a joyful and free expression much higher in pitch than would be expected based on the client’s description of their vocal experience. Or, a voice demonstrating resonance in clusters of notes that surprise the singer because they have never been experienced before. These are just two quick examples.
Here’s the trick to getting into what I call observer mode: you have to let go.