Inner Voice.

People come to voice lessons for as many different reasons as there are people who come to voice lessons. That convoluted sentence means that every single person is so, so wonderfully unique. Including you. Including me.

I am incredibly interested in the way we all process events in our lives and move forward, taking command of ourselves in compassionate ways. I just finished a book on a certain psychotherapeutic technique, and though I am not a therapist, my work with singers has helped me lean into this already present interest. I am aware that my clients do not want a therapy session from me, and it would not be a good idea for me to give them one. I stick to issues surrounding the voice in very tangible language. But, as the voice is the sound of everything within us, our inner world is intrinsically linked to not only the sounds we make, but the way in which we grow, learning and processing new information. Study of these topics helps me to be at peace with the different ways people progress in their lessons, and to kindly play my role of relaying vocal feedback for them to integrate as they can.

I understand that the voice is incredibly important to some people -- whether it is how they make their living or just an intense passion that they cannot be without. I understand that knowing it, freeing it, coming to a place with it that it performs for them as they ask it to, is a priceless experience for some people, a gift they give themselves that changes their lives. It was for me. But behind all of that is a complex wealth of a person who has to balance a host of needs, making progress in the order that suites their diversified life.

I have seen a client break up with a toxic partner and suddenly have a break through in their ability to breathe deeply. I've seen ADHD muddle a client's ability to keep focus over the course of a complex exercise, yet this person makes the most ordered and beautiful music outside of lessons. I've seen tongue tension rooted so deeply (which I have come to at times associate with trauma or anxiety) that when the client began to release it, they began uncontrollably laughing. And of course, I myself have shed tears in voice lessons I've taken in the past. I know few long-term studying singers who haven't.

Study of psychotherapy topics is my way of understanding mine and others' inner voice. It helps me to be as balanced and beneficial as possible. Though I am no perfect teacher, I try to grow and learn. And currently, I'm learning the benefits of curiosity. It's easy to want to fall into the trap of labeling things as definite. It makes us feel safe. But if we do that, we will definitely be wrong sometimes, cutting off "what could be" for "it should be" when sometimes, it just won't be. But I find that if we let it, life will surprise us in wonderful ways.

Just yesterday, I was working with a client who's voice has behaved in a way that presented some concerns for me. Though there were no pressing issues (like hoarseness) that would have necessitated they see a laryngologist right away, their voice seemed to reject some of the basics of belting that we were working on. This led me to wonder if there was some vocal fold weakness that could only be diagnosed via a scope. After finally realizing that their voice would not work the way most of my other clients' voices would, I took a step back and decided to see what it was capable of, exchanging "it should be" for the opportunity to see "what could be." We had an amazing session where we agreed that the sound they were making was awesome, even if it worked a little differently. They verified that it felt really good, and we agreed to proceed letting them have a little biological technical irregularity. I still don't know why their voice moves like that. But I do know that being inquisitive with myself about my reactions to it led me to stop so strictly adhering to what I thought I knew and leave room to be surprised. And I was, very pleasantly so.

I encourage you singers to be inquisitive with yourself. Half of singing is listening. Listening seems to be the part we forget. We think it's automatic because listening to others often is. But for whatever reason, listening to ourselves often isn't. Take time to listen to yourself and be curious about your actions, reactions and motives. You might be surprised by what you hear.


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