Monday, August 6, 2012

When students have PTSD

--> Recently, a singer came to me so bruised from her previous vocal experiences, that she virtually had post-traumatic stress disorder. Her former teacher was an expert in the "blame the student"  style of teaching, which left her with no self-confidence, and unable to sing in tune.

Alice (not her real name) was in such a state over her voice, that she was unable to produce a sound without paranoia. The effect of constant worry about sound is that you can’t sing. The first thing I tried to do with this student was to emphasize that there was nothing wrong with her voice; in my opinion, she had to learn how to let it out, rather than judging the sound before she produced it. If you believe your sound is intrinsically bad, and has to be “fixed” before it can be acceptable, you are stuck. No amount of fixing is going to produce a voice that is free, balanced and flexible. The problem is first and foremost, in your thinking.

Far better to see your voice as a potentiality that needs to be released. Once you get your mind off “sound”, you can begin to do the things that allow the sound to be produced in a healthy, balanced way. Sound is the ultimate effect of certain causes: balanced breathing, support, placement, a loose throat, a comfortable domed shape to the resonators, a sense of drinking in as you ascend the scale, a rounding to the vowels. Oh, and always, the feeling of speaking as you sing, which brings lightness, clarity and a forward feeling to the voice. Devote yourself to the causes, and the effect, a beautiful singing voice, takes care of itself. No amount of paranoia about sound will produce a beautiful voice, if you forget to care of the causes. After all, if you are too worried about your sound to do these things, who’s going to take care of them for you?