“If you are your authentic self, you have no competition” – Scott Stratten
Every singer has 1 to a handful of artists they are inspired by and strive to become in their study, practice and development as vocal artists. From the way they connect to the music, the emotions of the song, the lyrics, their coloured vocal lines, the way they look, how they present on stage, how they connect to themselves & their fans, how they make us feel and their vocal artistry (the list goes on). Everything about our favourite artists permeates not only our senses but our heart and soul – leaving us both inspired and in awe of what they give to the world with their instrument and performance art
Naturally, because of this, singers who come to study at The House of Voice often want to pick and choose aspects of what another singer has in their voice to be evident in our own. But the thing about that is, when you entertain making yourself into another artist, the world looses what is unique in your voice and the qualities you have to offer.
We already have a Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Florence and Machine, Bryn Terfel and Kristen Chenoweth.
This can gripe on some students who so badly want to sound like their favourite artists and don’t particularly want to embrace, accept and celebrate the differences, depth/quality or size of their own voice to that of their idols.
All styles and tricks can be learnt, but all this should move through you and your fundamental sound, quality and size.
Not the other way around.
So in the pursuit of discovering what the “you” in your voice really is, here is a couple of tips eluding to what singers need to “GIVE UP” in which to allow their real voice to come through.
Give up on imitation
Make a pact with yourself, that vocal imitation must stop today!
That you are going to value what your voice brings to the table as a singer, embrace and enjoy the journey towards your own vocal authenticity – no matter what!
Your voice might not end up having the exact soul depth of Sam Smith, it might not have same distinct qualities of London Grammar, but we don’t want it to. And neither do you!
The world really wants what is special in you, as its going to give us all something new to listen to and enjoy. Think about it, does your favorite singer sound like anyone else?
Whilst it wont be an exact replica of what someone else is doing. Its guaranteed to be unmistakably you and will be unlike anything anyone else – no-one is comparable when you accept this.
So begin accepting this truth, embracing all that is your sound and developing a playful sense of curiosity as the new developments in your voice unfold.
Your voice is something that no-one else possesses in exact measurement. So claim your vocal place in the world, its certainly up for grabs with your name on it!
- Give up on trying and will
- If you are trying to make a sound
- If you are willing your voice to be something
- You are pushing past your own sound, or what your voice truly is at this point in time.
What “is” , is the point you need to start from to get those improvements and integrate processes learnt in vocal lessons.
If I am “trying” to get that note, “trying” to coordinate those breathe points, “trying” to get that quality or that accent, I am going to be driving my muscles to the max, moving outside of my voice’s balanced capacity and overestimating the effort level.
Trying underestimates what your body is truly capable of. And being alot of the techniques at The House of Voice are teaching you how to let go of muscle tension for sound to be released- controlling the experience of singing by “trying” will only be counterproductive.
So if I will my body and try hard to attain a sound I have heard or perceived before this will get in the way of my bodies natural ability to action the instructions, tool or phrases before I have even opened my mouth. I will not be singing in my true voice.
As even before the phrase has begun, there will be a “push” that is not required. The only thing I have successfully done is gear my body into a state of stress.
Often students will say to me, “ok I will try”. But I tell them I don’t want them to try.
I want them to choose: will they or wont they?
And if you have made that decision then you can get on with whats required without the opinion/dialogue running that you might fail.
Replace “trying” with energy, clear minded action of the techniques being used in lessons and above all else clear focus which stays with what is truly going on in your body.
“listen to yourself rather than the noise of the world”
Give up on listening to yourself
This is controversial for most new students, even singing teachers who might not be able to direct students away from their ears, and have always been taught to tune into their sound as opposed to their muscles and the mechanics of singing in which to get their voice into gear.
Any good singing teacher will agree that if you are listening to your singing voice and trying to tune into the piano and your voice from the outside, you are not going to be in full vocal alignment. As half your concentration has been propelled into listening through ears that are acoustically not set up to hear what the audience hears anyway. A bad ally. Period.
If you don’t go for a jog and monitor the technique of how to move your legs based on what you see or hear from the outside moment to moment then STOP listening to your sound. Its doing your voice more harm then good.
“all the art of living, lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on”- henry ellis
Give up on expectation
In which for you to get to know your true voice, you have to give up the need to control the outcome of what your voice will actually be for it become what it is.
Believe it or not we are clever creatures and can mask a whole range of things – deluding ourselves as to what is our true sound.
Worrying about whether you will like what you hear, be able to sing the things your want to, achieve the things you want, get to this point – by this certain amount of time…is only a mechanism which will delay you.
The truth is your real voice will be what you had always dreamed PLUS some. But of the trick is you wont know that until you get out of the way. Which means you need to be willing to run the the risk of something new, operating your voice and neurological patterns in a new way which may be quite foreign. But this is half the fun if you embrace it!
Our bodies create the same actions required in singing when we sneeze, grunt, cough or yell out in an emergency in which to support our sound. Give over its all going to be ok!
“the day you stop racing, is the day you win the race” Bob Marley
Give up on competing
The only competition we are in, is with ourselves.
And I actually debate this with students, and ask is there really is one at all?
A competition is based on the assumption that you didn’t have it all to begin with.
You are not actually acquiring your voice, you are bringing it out!
Instead of competing, give your body more space to learn, endeavour to be less critical – open up and maintain your focus, rather then compressing your sound under the stress of self competition.
I love the saying the best way to kill competition is to partner it.
So being in your true voice means embracing yourself, encouraging yourself and accepting yourself in the process of learning, your body and the joys of the singing journey.
The competition is over…because you have already won.