Today marks 4 months into a weight training program I never imagined I’d do. But, in order to change the body, you have to change your habits. This is what I tell my voice clients everyday.
But you can’t preach what you don’t know. Well, you can, but then you just sound hollow and boring after awhile. There’s no #truthjuice behind words without experience to back them.
I’ve witness several clients go through a fundamental shift in vocal function after approximately one year of doing organized voice exercises. Something in their bodies aligns in a new way, and they seem to have a new ground zero set point. In order to truly know what that feels like, I have to go through that process myself – at least that’s what seems logical.
Years ago, I was teaching jazz voice lessons to a recently crowned Miss Tennessee. It was for reals, she was actually a Miss Tennessee.
She was beautiful, confident, incredibly kind, and sang like a bird. On top of those awesome things, she also taught me one of the biggest lessons in my teaching career.
If you don’t trust that you sound fundamentally okay,
you are never going to be able to let go and enjoy singing.
We were in a lesson, and she was singing her jazz piece. Well. She was singing it really well. She also had a weird look of consternation on her face. So I asked her, “do you trust that you sound good?” Because I heard a skilled instrument! The pitch was there, her voice went easily to every note, she had the words memorized, all the “technical elements” were aces. But she was preoccupied, and it seemed like she was singing and evaluating simultaneously.
And she stopped. She paused. She took a minute to think about it, and then said, “no. I don’t trust that I sound good.”
This absolutely blew my mind! And it taught me that no matter how “good” you are, it’s possible to be focused on the wrong thing.
Tom Blaylock often asks the question, “does it get results?”
He has this lil’ gem of a thought provoker posted in 1001 point font on his studio wall in reference to vocal exercises. Do your vocal exercises get you the results you need?
I think this is a correct question to be asking. It requires a singer to dig a little deeper than just mindlessly doing a vocal routine from day to day, or picking and choosing random vocaleses depending on their mood.
It also allows for many answers! There are any number of ways to get the result you want, so don’t box yourself in to just one way of thinking. On anything, really. (Voice is a reflection of the cosmos, remember.)
In voice habilitation, we strive to teach the body to produce sound in a way that’s reliable. The ideal voice works when you want it to work, and does what you need it to do.
At a recent teacher’s meeting, one of the group’s participants sang for us. He did several jazz-pop style tunes, and afterward gave us some insight into his technique and methods for practicing. He said something I’ll never forget.
(and I paraphrase) “Now, because of the vocal exercises I do, my voice is consistent. It used to be that every day was a guessing game. Some days my voice would feel great, and others it was all over the place. But because of having a routine that works, I trust it. I know what my voice is going to do.”
After so many years of mixed results, he was finally able to trust his vocal function.
Kudos to him for putting in the work. This doesn’t just happen all on its own, people. He found a vocal exercise routine that allowed him to set up his voice so it was consistent, reliable, and trustworthy. And he applied it. Faithfully.
Isn’t that what we are all looking for in general? A sense of trust? In people, in ourselves, in the universe, in our voices? A place where we feel safe?
Thursday night I gave a class at the Nashville Jazz Workshop
called “Vocal Health.” This is a 3-week masterclass designed to introduce vocology to a wider audience, and hopefully get more people interested in learning more about their bodies and practical voice science application.
The 3-week format was chosen because we wanted to offer a half-session length interactive lecture. (Most classes at the Workshop are 6 weeks.) But, because things are generally working out for all of us, it turns out 3 weeks is a perfect way to divide the mechanics of the voice into equal parts. Magic scheduling.