Singers’ get a bad wrap for the neurotic behaviour and routines surrounding the voice, but almost anyone with a voice is a little vocally neurotic. Whether we are about to sing with intention or about to speak up in class, we all perform some collection of preparatory sounds, movements, or thoughts. These preparations usually reflect our lack of trust in what our voice might produce and the caution we feel before we so vulnerably release it into the ether and expose it to the judgement of a listener. Why are we so anxious about the possibility of phlegm catching in our throat or our voice cracking in public …… ? As with most events that lead to embarrassment, the cause is a lack of control...and that, to most of us humans, is a sign of infirmity, some mental or physical weakness that we are socially conditioned to feel ashamed about.
Controlling the voice is a slippery task: it is invisible, just sound waves . . . air from our lungs vibrates our vocal folds and then resonates in our vocal tract. We can feel this vibration and resonance in our body but the sensations shift and the source feels split between thought, breath, throat, mouth, and the outside world.
How do we gain some sense of security, a modicum of control over our rascal vocal entity?
Warming up as an observation and preparation ritual will help to prepare our mind and our body so that when we begin to add more to our vocal multitasking plate, we are more likely to proceed with ease and efficiency. It should give us a sense of control over our intangible medium, and hopefully, reduce some anxiety and neurosis so we can enjoy our voice and share it with confidence.
To hear me dig deeper into our neurotic vocal preparations and how a 4 step vocal "ritual" focusing on mind, body, sensation, and diagnostics can help you manage and trust your voice, check out my podcast Voice Lab and the upcoming Voice Lab Sessions available through my Patreon page.
When we really care about singing (or anything we’re personally invested in), we can resist or avoid engagement with it for fear of not meeting our own or others’ expectations. In avoiding disappointing ourselves, we can only end up disappointed. When we resist practicing, we compound our avoidance for feeling out-of-shape. When we resist auditioning or performing, we regret a missed opportunity. Whenever we succumb to negative thoughts about our artistic pursuits, we only add to our self-sabotage. The process of singing will always be ongoing with the bar for our expectations always rising. There will always be frustrations, blocks, and challenges along our creative path. As difficult as it is, we should look at these hurdles in our progress as part of our singing process. The next time you feel yourself disengage from singing, ask yourself why. Remind yourself that there will never be a perfect time or space to practice, share your work, or go for an audition. There will never be a finished “product” ready for presentation. If we can reframe our fears of disappointment as feelings of importance, we are more likely to see challenges and hard work as opportunities: we are less likely to give up. We will start to see the creative journey as the goal and payoff. Embrace your voice where it's at today and be disciplined in enjoying the process.