How to Woo Your Voice

Whew! I have worked with a lot of singers since the start of the year. Between teaching at MCTC and in my own teaching studio and coaching the kiddos at Northeast Middle School, I am talking to a lot of people about the fundamentals of singing. (Yay!)

Sadly, some of these singers don’t like their voices. (*sad face*) This means they’re missing out on all the joy and fun of self-expression that singing can provide.

When we sing, especially when we start singing, it is important that we allow our voices to do things that may feel out of character to us.

If you’re working with a teacher or choir director, you might be asked to sing louder than you are comfortable singing, or higher than you think you can. You most certainly will be asked to exercise the underused (and therefore unfamiliar) parts of your voice.

Imagining your voice as a separate entity (with its own personality) can help. It doesn’t matter if you don’t sound that way, your voice does.

And, as I have said to many students, this is the voice you have. In the same way you are this tall or have brown or blue or hazel or green eyes. The same way your hair is straight or curly. You can spend your time wishing your voice were different and mourning the things it isn’t, or you can start appreciating your voice for all the things it is.

Imagine your voice as a child (or a pet or a plant *smile*). When you begin to critique your voice, ask yourself if your self-talk will help your voice thrive and flourish (or wilt and wither *grimace*).

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t ever be critical of your voice — critiquing ourselves is how we improve. But the critique has to be objective and productive. (And, “Ugh, I sound so bad.” does not fit the bill.)

So. In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I invite you to woo your voice.

  • Do nice things for your voice; drink more water, take some singing lessons, get enough sleep.
  • Compliment your voice. Make a point to notice your improvements and vocal progress.
  • Set aside time for the two of you to really get to know each other (also known as practicing *grin*). Get really comfortable with each other.
  • Take your voice out on the town. If you feel ready, take your voice out singing (see places to sing at right) – join a choir, go to an open mic or a sing-along.
  • Most important, have fun together.
    Indulge in no-holds-barred vocal jams in the car or shower. Luxuriate in the spaciousness of parking garages and cavernous staircases.

Shower your voice with love and attention and pretty soon you’ll wonder how you ever got along without each other.

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