You Are Not Your Voice

Even though the larynx is an organ in your body from which comes your unique sound expression as a human being, it is not YOU.

The reason I say this: If you’re a developing singer who receives criticism or coaching on your sound, your natural tendency is to think it’s about YOU. But it’s not. If you think of your voice as a separate instrument and don’t identify with it personally, you have a much better chance of being open to suggestions and coaching that can improve your performance.

I know this because I went through it in college: I thought I was hot stuff as a singer going into choir auditions, but the first time I was given suggestions to improve my tone, I thought it was an attack on my very person. When my voice teacher gave me my first practice assignment, I discovered just how personal I was taking things: I went into a windowless practice room, locked the door, and turned out the lights because I realized I couldn’t be with myself. As much as I thought I was a good singer, I wasn’t on good terms with my voice.

Instrumentalists have an easier time depersonalizing their music-making, because their instrument is not a biological organ. Out of tune? Just adjust your fingering, your mouthpiece, your strings, or your embouchure. But if you’re a singer? Whole different story. You think, “There’s something wrong with ME.” And it’s that kind of self-talk that can kill your love of singing.

Don’t let that happen.

Even if you were told as a child that you were “tone-deaf” or “monotone” (which is a travesty and simply not true in all but a fraction of a thousandth-percent of the whole population), you must not take a criticism of your voice as a criticism of YOU. When you separate your voice from yourself, you can open it up to possibilities that can make a difference in your singing. And whether those possibilities are presented to you from outside feedback or your own self-evaluation, they should help you become more self-expressed and authentic as a singer.

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