What are singing lessons and voice coaching really all about?
There’s a common misconception that singing lessons or voice training are only for people who want to be singers, or who intend to use their voice in a professional capacity, such as speakers, teachers, performers, storytellers, voice talents…
In my singing practice over the years, I’ve learnt that this entire journey isn’t just about your ability to sing, speak or anything related to improving your physical voice.
It’s also about discovering your true Voice — what you truly wish to express with your entire being over your entire lifetime. This is intricately tied to who you are as a person, and what truly matters to you (versus whatever we think we’re supposed to want and what life is supposed to be about, because everyone else seems to think so).
Ultimately this is about becoming a more authentic version of ourselves, and getting more connected with our true selves.
The only way we are truly free to express ourselves is when we are so comfortable, aligned, and resonant with who we truly are that there are no longer any barriers to our expression.
When you work on and “improve” your physical voice through singing, it’s not just about correcting your vocal issues, or picking up some techniques so you can sing “right” (or learning how to belt the high notes like Idina Menzel).
It’s really about you being able to sing as YOU, and you being able to express yourself as YOU.
And part of this is about getting to know the present limits of your physical voice and your expression, which is also where your greatest strengths currently are!
If your vocal range is currently an octave, then that’s what you’ve already got, and that’s where you’ll begin. And upon further strengthening what you’ve already got, we can then explore how to take it to the next level, how to push your limits and comfort zone little by little, so you’ll start to expand yourself and your voice and expression — at your own pace and in your own time!
To me, this is what singing lessons and voice coaching is about: a process of getting you connected to yourself again, and for you to sing as YOU.
As much as we may admire our favourite singers and wish we could one day have a voice like theirs, the fact remains that your voice is unique to you, and you are the only person who can harness its power.
After all, even if you’re a Freddie Mercury or Diana Ross impersonator and you’re able to sound almost exactly like them, you wouldn’t be known for the singer you really are, but you’ll always be living in their shadow.
And really, it’s not so much the amazing vocals that singers possess that impresses their audience. (It is, to some extent, because nobody wants to have their ears assaulted while enjoying a singing performance!)
You may be the most technically proficient singer, who can easily switch between the various styles of singing, and incorporate all sorts of stylistic devices in your performance, and maybe initially you’ll wow people.
But if you’re not emotionally resonating with what you’re singing, your audience will lose interest after a time, and the only fans you may have are aspiring singers who wish to sound amazing like you, but is that what you really want to be known for?
Ultimately what resonates most with any audience is the emotional expression of the performer, and what turns them into fans is the connection you’ve created with them from the stage.
Your ability to connect with your audience stems from your ability to connect with yourself. Knowing what makes you tick, what moves you, what you value, what you resonate with, what you’re really feeling and going through in your life now… all of that is what makes your voice uniquely yours and yours alone, and your expression one that only you can put forth into the world.
And if you’re able to sing a simple song and move the room to tears or stun a room to silence, it’s also a reflection of your ability to communicate with the people who really matter to you, and say what it is you really want to say about how much they mean to you.
In voice coaching and singing lessons, we’re also looking at what stops you from being able to do that.
Because our voice is tied to who we are and our expression, we also have to deal with psychological barriers to our expression, such as performance anxiety, nerves, stage fright, getting tongue-tied, feeling embarrassed, fearing that others will judge you.
So singing isn’t just about working on your physical voice, but also for you to work on better managing and at times even overcoming the emotional and psychological obstacles you have towards connecting to yourself and towards expressing that outward into the world around you, and connecting with them.
It’s really about turning you into the best singer / speaker / communicator / express-er that you can be, at this point in time, wherever you’re at right now in terms of your vocal abilities and the limits of your expression.
After all, the most important communications in your life aren’t necessarily the ones where you’re on a stage in front of a roomful of people. Ultimately the most important communications and expressions you’ll have are with the people closest to you, and how you express your sentiments towards those who matter to you.
And of course, how you embody and express your true Voice — what really matters to you in terms of your dreams, what you truly long to pursue, what you consider as a worthy and meaningful purpose for yourself.