For a long time, I’ve seen connections between what we do in voice lessons and real life. This has become especially true in the last year as so much of life has been out of our control. Trying to force the pandemic to not be there, well, that would’ve been, let’s just say frustrating, lol (to say the least). So, when I feel like beating my head against the wall yet again as the pandemic continues to rage on in so many places in the world*, I ask myself, “is there some wisdom I teach in voice lessons that I can turn inward as I face the unknown and uncontrollable?”
And often the answer to this question is yes.
IN LESSONS: When we struggle with something in singing, rarely will tensing up and “trying harder” (translate = muscle it!) be the right answer. If we can’t hit that high belt note, the answer isn’t to push harder, and yet, what’s the first instinct for most of us?
To push harder. Squeeze. Tense. Frustration. Squeeze more. MORE TENSION.
It’s a vicious cycle, and, literally the opposite of what will actually help.
We need to let go somewhere, and re-coordinate something, and try again.
IN LIFE: Just like life, right? Muscling through our issues usually creates more issues. Think about relationships. If something with our significant other isn’t going the way we’d like it to (this never happens though, right? HA!), if we double down and press the issue, everyone puts up walls and nothing gets accomplished as you both continue to butt heads and not listen. We just push, push, push.
But if we can stop, release our expectations (let go), and listen (re-coordinate), really hear what the other person is saying, then there’s a much better chance that we’ll get through it (try again), and with a better understanding of our partner. Hell, we may realize that what we thought we wanted isn’t what we really wanted but because we’ve dug in our heels, well, there’s no turning back now! (Not that I’ve ever been guilty of this...don’t worry,
I doubt George will read this lol.)
IN LESSONS: Or when you sing something that doesn’t come out the way you want it to, then trying over and over again without thinking about the process will rarely improve our skill. Sure, we may be able to sing it the way we want to a couple of times but it’s almost never a reproducible product because we didn’t stop, think, and change something intentionally--we just kept throwing spaghetti at the wall (I’m an award winning spaghetti thrower! lol). And often, we’re increasing tension levels as we do this. Not great for singing, or life. (I feel my sympathetic nervous system turning on just thinking about this!)
We need to stop, think, and try again with an adjusted approach.
IN LIFE: So many times in my life, I just rush to try over and over again without stopping and considering how I could’ve made an adjustment for a different outcome. This can be something as simple as trying to turn a key that’s stuck. If we just try to turn the key over and over and over again without making an adjustment we’ll get frustrated, tension will creep (or rush) in, and we could end up breaking the key in the lock. Not fun. If we can stop the cycle, take a breath (think), make an adjustment, and try again, we’re much more likely to get the key to turn (or decide to call a locksmith before we break it in the door!).
The through line in voice lessons and life is that if we don’t stop, think, adjust,
and try again, then we’re likely to beat our heads against the wall
and just keep ending up with the same outcome.
I don’t know about you, but the hardest part of this for me is the stopping. I just want to go-go-go and not think. JUST DO. (I'm working on it!)
And the beauty of this journey is that it is, in fact, a journey.
I can always just stop, think, adjust, and try again. There’s usually a laugh in there somewhere, too. I mean, we want to enjoy the ride, too! (Ok, there’s usually a laugh.)
How do you see the wisdom of voice lessons in your own life? I’d love to hear from you!