I decided to focus on vocal technique when I started teaching singing at MAINZ a couple years ago after needing to put together a singing syllabus. I had to get my voice in optimum shape so I could demonstrate & teach others the curriculum.
“Letting go & staying in control” was the title of a small paragraph within a module on Advanced Breath Management in the Voice Technique 101 class that I am currently taking via Berklee Online.
There have been a couple of things that have really resonated with me on this technique ‘up skill’ journey I am on. This was one of them.
Why? A couple reasons.
Firstly, it is fair to say that I am a massive CONTROL freak. There I said it – not as ashamed as I used to be cos I am now one with my flaws and strengths after nearly 40 years on this planet.
Secondly, I had been STRUGGLING, up until this week (more on that in another post!) with learning new things and applying them to my existing singing style & habits formed over roughly 25 years.
Like, REALLY STRUGGLING.
I hear you all saying “well, you can’t teach an old diva new tricks…..” & that’s just the kicker – we can & should ALL, as singers be constantly researching, self-assessing & applying new tricks to our arsenal cos in this game, it is a use it or lose it situation (ESPECIALLY as we age – again more on that in another post!).
However, I was prepped mentally & physically to attack this full time study & open myself to all that was thrown at me.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the battle that ensued taking in the new & making it work within the existing framework.
Every gig felt like I was THINKING so hard about technique I was almost disconnected from the lyrics, audience & band as I was trying too hard to apply the new skills I had learnt (i.e.: tone, placement etc).
My singing felt heavy & CLUNKY when submitting assignments as well, my voice cracked, I couldn’t get my vowels to sound the way I wanted them and so on & so on….
It all culminated in having an assignment to sing of my own choice.
I decided on “Let it Go” (yup, life imitating art imitating life strikes again) the Demi Lovato version. I was sure it would be a piece of cake….not so much…..I bombed!!
I had a vocal melt down where all my functions old & new just had a massive stand off & music was NOT the winner at the end of the day. It was unbelievably humbling.
I felt so out of control. I could not get my body to do what I wanted. This all after choosing to advance my learning because I finally felt in such a good place vocally!
My lecturer was so kind & my lovely classmates supportive as always with their comments but I knew…. it was not my best work.
I carried that with me until I stumbled across that little paragraph.
The jist of it was this: “there is a fine balance between releasing your body to allow it to function freely, and still maintaining control”
It was a lightbulb moment. I was expecting the study process to make me soar as a vocalist, the wind beneath my wings (see what I did there….) with no lightning to strike me down! Not the case as I now know. That paragraph allowed me to let myself off the hook knowing that others before me had also found it all a bit hard!
Whatever stage you are at – be it the first stages of learning to sing, adding new tricks & developing your voice or keeping gig fit as a professional singer, it’s a life long process & a challenging but very rewarding one! It just simply isn’t a singular assignment, singing lesson or four year degree. It’s a LONG end game.
That is in a nutshell what the Big Note Get Votes blog & community is all about.
Highlighting our singing wins (& commiserating over the ‘draws’) fueling that passion for our craft & creating momentum to learn new things to apply, share, rinse & repeat for the long haul.
I hope to share stories that turn a few lights on & encourage you to sing your heart out daily with good technique, challenge yourself & enjoy the process all whilst not overthinking too much! 😉
So the moral of the story is this… my name is Cherie Mathieson & I am still a massive CONTROL freak who is now one with my VOCAL flaws AND strengths after nearly 40 years on this planet.
Here’s to 40 more years filled with learning cos I still need to hit that damn D5 in my high mix……..
Damn you Demi…