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HI, I'M JORGELINA
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As in many other disciplines and areas of life, perfectionism in singing will inevitably lead you to one of two paths: frustration or robotic singing.
In 10 years of experience teaching, I have seen this just too many times. The famous, flawless singers that we listen to make us think that somehow we have to be able to nail it like them, and in a short period of time.
Remember that those famous singers you listen to have trained and performed for years, sometimes decades. Also, have in mind that recordings are produced to make the voice sound flawless as well.
I see way too often beginner singers get extremely frustrated because they can’t “hit” that high note. The body then becomes tenser, making it even harder for the voice to flow freely.
Singing is not about singing isolated high notes for the sake of it. Singing is about being able to successfully transmit emotion and a story. It is about communication.
Your voice will always reflect who you are, what your emotions are in that moment, and what emotions you have been accumulating or feeling during your lifetime.
A perfect voice from my perspective is any voice because it does what it has to do. Express. You can always shape it to your needs and wants, but your voice’s worth is intact.
When we train ourselves as singers what we are doing is building an instrument that allows you to express the emotions in the songs you are singing rather than blocking your emotions or reacting to them.
That is the first and most important phase in the singing training, a phase that many people skip, leading to frustration and to future voice damage. Once you build an expressive body and voice, virtuosity effects in the voice are just a matter of practice, and higher and lower notes become a natural consequence of an aligned body.
In the process, you build a resilient, vulnerable, and strong instrument, and you are able to do more things with your voice and have more tools available to you. But that doesn’t come from perfectionism in singing. In fact, if you mindlessly practice voice technique with that idea in mind, you will at the very best sound like a robot, because you will be driven by control and not from freedom.
You can feel his voice breaking at the end – that’s what happens when you are truly sad. It is part of the beauty of this song.
With this, I do not suggest that you should not train your voice. On the contrary, in my experience as a teacher and as a singer myself, the more you train mindfully the more you can express fully without blocking or reacting to the messages you are trying to say. At the same time, also in my experience teaching the more a student is obsessed with getting all the notes “right” and getting higher notes for the sake of it, the less they can connect with their voice.
Your voice will always follow what your mind says. If you are thinking about controlling your voice and about making it sound flawless, that is what you are going to show. A controlled voice, restricted, tense.
Do mistakes truly exist though? Your voice does not lie. It does what it is supposed to do. Your voice is perfect as it is. Your voice wants to help you express your emotions. That is why whenever we really want to say something and we don’t, we feel a nod in our throat.
If you want a shortcut in your singing practice, the best thing you can do is to learn to manage your mind. Learn to forgive yourself for the “mistakes”. No one starts a beginner dance class expecting to be the next Julio Bocca (dance genius) within one month. You have to be patient, tolerant, and emphatic with your voice.
Be willing to make “mistakes”. When you are training your voice, be willing to let the voice break, shake, sing flat, sing sharp. It is all part of the process. Your training sessions are the moment to do that without fear or shame or frustration. If you are willing to go through that, you will overcome it more easily.
Be willing to have “imperfect” performances. If you attempt to achieve perfectionism in singing, chances are that when you are doing a live performance you will be either frustrated or anxious about giving a perfect performance. You are set to an imperfect performance right away anyway because you are not in tune with the message of your songs. You are going to be saying words that don’t connect with what you are truly feeling.
From my perspective, when you truly connect with what you are saying, your performance might be or not be imperfect but it will also be perfect. If you are connected and you allow your voice to express instead of repressing or reacting, you will for sure see your audience connecting with you in a much genuine and powerful way. No one will care if you had more or less power in your voice than Bruno Mars or Beyonce.
In my experience teaching, chasing perfectionism in singing leads to the following pattern:
Eventually, the student will understand that letting go is an essential part of the voice training and that often comes with undesirable voice effects: breaking, flipping, singing out of tune. The faster you accept and welcome this, the faster you will get over it and achieve the free and powerful voice you truly want.
Here I offer you a couple of steps on how to successfully sing imperfectly and perfectly at the same time.
1- Understand the differences between:
2- Observe which one of them you are doing every time you sing or speak. If your voice hurts, it will be either blocking or reacting.
3- Build a body that is ready and willing to feel – posture and breathing are absolute essentials.
4- Forgive your voice for sounding how it sounds. At the end of the day, you are the one giving it instructions with your brain to sound however it sounds.
5- Set your brain to humble mode before your practice. Tune into your body and observe its tensions. Make the connection between your mind, your body, and your voice.
6- Decide what you need to change your mind – your body – then your voice. For example, if you want to have a powerful voice but your breathing is very poor, you should start observing that instead of just getting frustrated with your voice and thinking that your school choir teacher was right when she said you can’t sing.
7- With compassion, give your body what it needs today to release your voice.
8- Appreciate the little achievements day after day.
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