There is a lot of information out there about how to take care of your singing voice but did you know it is equally important to look after your mind?
In fact, singing is a neuromuscular activity, which means that our brain is essentially our instrument. It tells our body what to do in order to make the sound we want (and to make sound full stop).
So we need to be aware of what we think and say about our voice as well as our ability to use it.
I'm a big believer that our thoughts and words shape our experience. Our subconscious mind is extremely powerful and pretty much runs the show, which we call ‘our life’. Therefore, what we say and believe to be true about our singing voice is what we are going to experience.
Let's go deeper here... What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think about your voice?
Is it words and feelings such as: "Oh I love it!"; "It's unique"; "It's strong"; "I'm getting better at developing my voice. I can hear an improvement every day."?
Or does your inner monologue sound more like this: "I'm tone deaf!"; "I can't sing to save myself!"; "I can't hear any improvements. I should give up.”?
If it’s the latter, just giving you the disclaimer now, I’m going to get all Louise Hay on you.
Keep reading if you like all this self-love stuff…
I can tell you from personal experience not to give up – YOU CAN improve your voice by adopting a set of healthy beliefs. That means loving the shizzle out of your voice, despite it’s apparent weaknesses.
Let me tell you a story. In the past, I struggled with a weak chest voice, which makes it pretty difficult to sing contemporary music, especially jazz. I struggled to sing notes below a middle C and sometimes on a gig these notes would completely disappear.
This caused me a lot of frustration. It didn’t matter what exercises my singing teacher (a head honcho, internationally renowned vocal pedagogue in contemporary music) gave me to strengthen my registration, my body was not complying. And why? At the time, I had no idea either, which of course kept feeding my frustration and to be honest, sadness.
When I got to a particularly low point (excuse the pun!), I realized that I had some major self-enquiry work to do. And what did I discover? An icky web of beliefs that can be summed up as:
I didn’t believe I could change.
I didn’t believe the exercises would work for me.
And that my voice was inherently flawed.
So What do you do when you get to this point?
You start to exercise your love muscle! And I don’t that mean in a sexy-time kind of way. Moving on quickly…
I mean that you start practicing thinking and saying positive things about your voice.
That doesn’t mean proclaiming “I sound like Whitney Houston, therefore I am!”, when you are still developing your sense of pitch. On a side note, it’s always best to sound like yourself but that’s another blog post.
It means saying things to yourself that you will actually believe straight off the bat. You need to see it as those you are trying to brainwash a sceptic. Therefore, it will be easier to believe affirmations like, “I don’t care what my voice sounds like, it’s cool. It’s me. Bob Dylan or Marianne Faithful don’t have the most polished sounding voices, they have things to say and they do it well.”
“I like how my voice sounds in the higher register.”
“This song suits my voice.”
“I like learning about how to build my voice.”
“I’m starting to hear some improvements.”
“It makes me happy and fulfilled that I’m even pursuing this.”
Eventually your negative beliefs will begin to morph into positive ones and that is when the real magic starts to happen, my friends.
Your new beliefs will just get stronger and so will your voice. Your body will begin to integrate your technique practice, which will continue to reinforce your positive beliefs. It’s the gift that keeps giving!
Of course from time to time, negativity will rise it’s unfortunate looking head. But see it as an opportunity to do some weeding and the planting of new pleasing thoughts.
More on this… I was at a Vince Jones workshop once. If you don’t know who he is, Google him, he is an incredible musician, national icon and top bloke. Anyhow he made reference to a wonderful piece of wisdom from David Suzuki which went along the lines of “Your body will do what you ask it to do, and why, because your body loves you”.
And as for me and my weak low register… Well I continue to strengthen it daily however it has become much stronger than it was. I no longer see it as an issue and those notes below a middle C stay put over a three to four-hour gig.
Now I want to hear from you – have you stopped ‘hating on your voice’ and learned to love it quirks and all? Have you seen major improvements in your singing practice and life through changing your mindset?
Please leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you!