Clearing the way

There are several gems I've acquired from my voice teachers which inform my singing, and I'm thinking about one of them a lot lately, as I'm preparing new projects to wrap up this year (soon TBA!). It is one Carlos Conde told me. To paraphrase, he once said that nine times out of ten, the thing that holds a singer back from making progress and fulfilling their potential is caused by somehow distorting the instruments we already have. These problems are typically solved by removing the thing (or things) causing the distortion, rather than adding a new concept to the mix.

I think this applies a lot to real life, as well. There isn't anything like an art form in which we primarily express ourselves through phonation to make this point especially acute--after all, phonation is one of the most fundamental ways human beings express themselves! A lot of the things that get in the way of being our best (and honest) selves in our lives are things that distort who we are. These things are best solved by removing the problem, rather than adding something to the mix. For example, if one is an introvert (as I am), don't try and make yourself NOT that way, and instead embrace the great qualities this brings! It's best to embrace that aspect of who you are, and get out of your own way. This ties back to another voice technique gem, which also informs a lot of my approach to voice technique: that singing departs from speech. From your honest speaking voice, not from some distorted concept of what your speaking voice "should" be (whether it's a "deeper, booming voice" or a "lighter, more delicate voice"--if either of those are your natural speaking voice, though, more power to you!) :)

The human body is a fundamentally perfect instrument. (Think of babies who can cry for hours and hours without losing their voices!) So are we, as people--fundamentally amazing. If we can get out of our own ways and embrace who we truly are, then we can truly open the door to be constructive, happy, and creative.

I'm sure this is a process that will continue to be a main theme in my life, and yet it's SO worthwhile, both professionally and personally!

Develop who you already are, and don't fight your nature. Without fail, every single one of my biggest vocal breakthroughs have come about because I got out of my own way, rather than because I artificially "added" something to what I was doing. It's also about bringing forth your best and honest self, and learning to harness that so you can do MORE of what you're already doing right, and make a positive impact on those around you through it.

Also, recognize the things other people are already doing right, rather than trying to "fix" them to be something else they aren't. As "kumbaya" as this might sound, I really think the world would be a much happier place to live if we did that.