Liberate your voice
The voice. Many are fortunate to own one. Some use it wisely, while others use it in less profound ways. The tone differs from person to person and vocal faculties are diverse. For some, like Mariah Carrey or Vitas, vocal abilities are entirely unique and arduous to mimic. Nevertheless, the voice is a distinct thing and needs ample appreciation.
The ability to speak, sing, and even shout, is magical. These abilities allow for an insurmountable amount of expression and edification. In other cases, it provides people with career opportunities. So many are highly revered and doted because of their voice - people like famous singers, spoken word performers, music teachers, public speakers, and even your favorite university lecturer. The value of the words that leave their mouths, carried through sound waves into appeasing ears does play a vital role in why they are well liked in the first place, as well as the entire realm of physicality necessary to convey that specific message, but the voice is what makes those valuable words even more paramount, and what sanctions this gravitational shift in fondness for a person of such standing.
In a world filled with as much silence as there is noise, wouldn't you say there is resplendency in hearing someone speak or sing, even when the tone of their voice may not be as pleasing to the ear as someone else's? I think so.
But, what is all the more fascinating, is the distinction between a talking voice and a singing voice. As a singer, this remains far from unorthodox. My singing voice and talking voice oppose each other - they sound very different. And as happy as I am with my talking voice, pretty much since birth, the same cannot be said for my singing voice. It took many years to feel comfortable. Shyness and a general dislike for its sound overruled any other sentiments. Ironically, since childhood, performing alongside peers at numerous music festivals and singing competitions were commonplace, and non-problematic. Why? Because it was a team effort not solely an individual one, but once solo singing became a part of life, embarrassment, negative criticisms, and on most days, shyness crept in, overruling the sublime compliments from peers and vocal teachers. This way of thinking obstructed progress and desire to pursue that teenage dream of becoming a famous singer grew distant. Granted, other factors contributed to this dismay, but, the most consequential of them all, is the aforementioned. Sometimes personal thoughts can authentically inhibit pursuance, especially when allowed to do so.
However, as time passed, the desire to break free from these weighted noetic conceptions, sanctioned one to push into new avenues, like recording my first EP, and as a result, the opportunity to perform on stage, in front of a live audience.
A friend of mine was hosting an event and he asked if there was any interest in performing. Honoured, I accepted the generous offer. Immediately upon acceptance, preparation and rehearsals stretched across many hours. For days, nervousness and dubiousness battled against each other, as well as opposing, more inspiriting emotions. Being on stage, never posed a quandary, nor did singing on stage with others in choirs or ensembles. But, in this case, performing solo, without backup, other voices or even a choir conductor, harbored feelings of fright, among others. Questions about amiability peeked into view. At the time, even personal opinion of my voice was derogatory, so the natural process of thought was, how then would an audience enjoy its sound?
A few days before the show, self-consciousness was as contemporary as the sun on a sunny day, but thankfully, tenacity prevented abandonment. Rehearsals continued up until the event, while siblings and close friends provided a solid support network, as they all huddled around the stage come performance time, and as the backing track boomed over the sound system, space for doubt or uncertainty grew thin and unreliable. Memory indicates slight worry during the performance after messing up a dance move or two. Internal moral dropped just a tad, but once eyes locked onto swaying bodies and smiling faces, and ears heard cheers from the voices in the room, ego received the fuel needed to push through. No one in that room knew the extent to which negative forces of thought kept trying to sabotage this fresh boost of ego. And, even within that internal struggle, a smile or two between verses and choruses made appearances, encouraging the audience to smile back, which ignited a greatly needed overflow of positive feelings. As the last few lines of the song came to pass, instant relief coursed through a previously tense body and mind, and feelings of success encouraged bravery.
After the performance, audience members swooned and came over to express pleasant sentiments. My friend "Vaashish" expressed his feelings of appreciation, as siblings and other friends rushed over to give hugs, kisses, and compliments. And even after achieving success, tiny slivers of doubt still permeated - a challenging feeling to defeat.
At this moment, and particularly because my career as an enrichment teacher encourages consistent utilization of the voice - both talking and singing - I have grown to love the sound it emits. All those years ago, this voice of mine was not ready to be heard. It still valued privacy and secrecy. But now, through evolution, maturity, and the nurturing of self-love, a new love for all that was once disliked is abundant, and the opinions and compliments of others that did nothing but encourage, are now given utmost significance. If anything, the trepidation that lived within and instigated worry about the opinions of others is no longer an obstruction, it is a motivator. To have the ability to speak and sing is something that is embraced now more than ever. It is something that is appreciated and understood. The power it holds and the beautiful work it can create is valued. The impact it has on listening ears, especially the little ones I teach is experienced on a daily basis. The personal impact is simply gratifying, and the eagerness to share my voice with more people in new and different ways excites the essence of my human existence.
Before fingers could even type the last two letters of the previous word, regret beseeched to express wishes of understanding these things sooner. Maybe a career as a singer would have come to pass if it transpired that way? Who knows. Simultaneously, the journey to claiming my voice is understood. Time was needed. Comfort had to be learned. That is just how it goes for some, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Now, in present day and time, my soul lives in this space of feelings of goodness about self and voice, as a mantra chants "no more waste of mind space on negative feelings, especially when they inhibit progress", because empowerment of mind means empowerment of voice - a voice that stayed silent for way too long and only felt like it shined when it was part of a group and not when it stood alone. So today, arms are raised to the sky, a head tilts back, a vocal passageway is open, lips part and sounds emerge, raw sounds like that of a warriors' ready to face fate. Today is the day I open my voice to a new sense of liberation - one that ceased to exist up until this moment. I am deserving of it and so are you.
It is a personal assumption that many others have felt or feel the same, maybe even you. Lack of confidence, among other emotions, contributed or currently contributes to personal insecurity about your voice. Worry about the subjective opinions of others also plays a part, and interferes with opportunities to find comfort in engaging in simple conversations with peers, excel at work presentations, follow through with a career as a music teacher or even audition for that perfect musical theater role. Then there is the negative comparison, which does nothing more than embolden a decline of any vocal self-confidence.
How familiar these sentiments feel, as they too interfered with personal acceptance and liberation of this voice of mine - particularly as it relates to singing. At the same time, different facets of knowledge and understanding presented themselves, making the journey all the more necessary, and after years of growth, this is the literary support this mind of mine wishes to share.
As it relates to singing; embrace the process even if it is lengthy. Even if it feels exhausting and filled with negativity. Even if it means a career as a famous singer or vocal/music teacher begins much later in life. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow and when that comfort with and confidence in your vocal abilities are abundant, then share it openly, and be open to both objective and subjective opinions others may wish to share. Additionally, and as cliche as this sounds, practice makes perfect and builds confidence and knowledge as well.
As it relates to speaking; trust in the value of the words and message being conveyed. Also, use simple scenarios as a foundation for practice. Scenarios like engaging in conversation with peers or even a stranger, maybe even giving someone a call versus sending them a text. Use any and all opportunities as a means of growth, and as a way to develop the skills that will allow you to understand, use, cope, and in some cases rid oneself of any other inhibiting factors, such as nervousness or poor breathing techniques.