Why You Should Question Everything You Know About Singing
Do you remember your first singing lessons? Or the first instructions you took on board?
Maybe you can piece together vague phrases like "lower the breath" or "lift the soft palate" but can't quite recall the specifics.
Even if you can't remember what you were told - your body does.
WHY IT'S WORTH HUNTING
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The first time I meet a new student I feel like an interrogator. Question after question comes tumbling out, diving into every little thing they were told or that they believe about the voice.
Sometimes they confidently explain techniques like 'support' and sometimes they start hesitating, second guessing every answer they give.
Almost every time there is a bug, hiding in plain sight. The one thing (or perhaps a few more) that they think they are doing 100% right that is causing the majority of their singing frustrations.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
#1: The information may not be all that current.
The study of singing is evolving all the time, so if you're following instructions that you received a decade ago, there may be new research and a better way of doing it now.
That's why it's so important to continue learning and upgrading your knowledge (or investing in a teacher who does this).
#2: The way it's explained
Every singing teacher is different. Even if they were taught by the same teacher in the same style, they will explain things differently. You want to find someone who can get the complicated idea across in a way that MAKES SENSE TO YOU.
When I was growing up, teachers would focus on visualisations or (what I found most confusing) catch phrases like "sing from the diaphragm".
The problem with that is that I then created my own understanding of what that should feel like, which in fact caused MORE tension and vocal fatigue.
Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons so many trained singers have bugs hiding in their technique...
#3: We don't tend to ask questions.
I don't know about you but I felt too scared or stupid to ask questions in my first lessons. I was embarrassed that I was confused. I felt like I should understand the technical terms and know HOW to stop straining.
AND we often don't know WHICH QUESTIONS TO ASK. Some of us wouldn't know that asking "are my abdominal muscles meant to suck in and tighten a lot?" is a good question and so if the teacher doesn't catch that habit, it's never fixed.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DOING TO HELP?
Make sure you're keeping up to date with what coaches and scientists are discovering about the voice (Google is a pretty incredible tool y'know) and if you take a lesson with a teacher PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS. Tonnes of them.
You might go a shade of deep red when having to ask what the teacher means by 'insert-technical-phrase-here" but it's much better than interpreting it wrong and struggling with your voice for the next few months or years.
Be brave and ask for a different explanation or exercise to give you a clear sense of what you should be doing/feeling.
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