Don’t be shy ! Find Your True Voice!
As a vocal coach, I see so many singers who are in an unhappy place with their voice. I mean, if they wasn’t, they wouldn’t need to see me, right? They often have an issue that needs to be fixed. And usually they want it fixing NOW!
Often the issue could be they want to sound different some how: Perhaps they are classically trained and wish to sound more contemporary; sometimes it’s getting a better vibrato; often it’s getting a stronger beltier sound. But quite often it’s because they’re feel there is something wrong. Something that’s broken that needs to be fixed.
And these singers have probably been singing for years, never had a single coaching session, gigging, touring, recording, and been absolutely fine. And all of a sudden things just change somehow. Crazy, right? It’s a bit like knowing your eyesight isn’t quite what is used to be, but just carrying on, putting up with squinting or holding your phone at arms length to see the screen. Until, you come to realise you really should see an optician. Or, in the case of your voice, a voice specialist.
And that can be a scary thing, right. I’ve had to wear glasses since I was eighteen years old (yeah, yeah, only a few years then…) but I still put off the need to have varifocals recently because, in my head, it was a clear sign of ageing! For a few years, I knew I needed them! But the stubborn defiant me refused to give in……until I could no longer resist. I had to admit defeat.
Daft! What a mad mind set! Because how much better is my life for having had my eyes checked and given the right prescription! How much easier it is for me to read the music on my music stand and the lyrics on my sheet! No more blaming the rubbish lighting for getting the lyrics wrong! It was simple and painless to visit the optician, and guess what…I can see clearly now!
And just think, while you’re busy being stubborn about your voice, carrying on regardless, pushing out those high notes, belting your guts out, singing loudly because the PA is a bit rubbish…..what damage have you done? What bad habits have you created?
HAVE I DAMAGED MY VOICE?
I think this is the most worrying issue singers think about. Singers often think they have damaged their voice so bad they’ll never be able to sing again. Yes, extreme vocal injury can happen. Sometimes it can mean surgery. But quite often, it’s not that severe. Your vocal coach will thoroughly asses your voice if you feel you are concerned, and will direct you to a qualified specialist like a voice therapist and laryngologist if necessary. They will pinpoint exactly what has happened to your vocal folds and put a plan into place to aid your recovery. And a fully qualified vocal coach experienced in voice injury and recovery will also be able to put you back on the straight and narrow. With help from these voice experts, you’ll be singing again before you know it. If you want to avoid injury in the first place, making sure you have good singing strategies for your style is key.
HAVE I BEEN DOING IT WRONG?
Yes, probably! It’s highly likely that you’ve not caused any severe physical damage to your vocal folds, but more likely that you’ve been pushing through with a bad technique. Our bodies and our minds are very adaptable. We subconsciously make adjustments in order to achieve a task. Sometimes, we subconsciously over compensate and maladaptations occur, a bad habit.
Fortunately, because our minds and bodies are super flexible, given the right input, we can easily (ok, there might be a little effort involved) adapt and fix those bad habits. We can learn to replace them with great fixes, sometimes instant fixes! With a little time and effort, you can replace those bad habits with fabulous new ones that will transform your voice forever. Your vocal coach will arm you with great development exercises targeted at your voice needs to get you where you want to be.
BUT WHAT ELSE MIGHT I DISCOVER ABOUT MY VOICE?
I get it. Seeing a vocal coach can be a scary thing because we’re worried we’re going to open Pandora’s Box. But, just like the optician is there to make our eyesight work better, the vocal coach is here to make your voice work better. If that means uncovering some voice issues, bad singing techniques, or signs of wear and tear on the vocal folds, so be it. But you can be assured a good vocal coach will know how to check for major issues and help to fix them, arm you with good techniques, and get your voice in tip top shape. You might even discover – no – you WILL discover new and improved strategies for more efficient singing. You really can find your true voice with a little help, time and effort.
CAN I CHANGE MY STYLE.
Sure thing! Lots of classically trained singers make the cross over to contemporary pop or musical theatre. Just make sure you choose the right vocal coach who specialises in your desired style. Again, your vocal coach will give you good development exercises to work on you can put into practice immediately.
QUALIFIED VOICE COACH
If you are a professional or semi professional voice user (singer or actor), you would be wise to protect the very thing that earns you your crust. Even if you’re not professional but regularly gigging or recording, your voice will be worth looking after professionally. Finding a good coach who is not only an experienced singer, but also an experienced, skilled, knowledgeable AND FULLY QUALIFIED voice coach is imperative. There are lots of “singing teachers” who may be very experienced singers, but don’t necessarily have any professional qualifications to teach voice, or indeed simply teach. A good singer doesn’t necessarily make a good coach too.
Check out your coach’s credentials. Make sure they have listed where they’ve been trained, and who they have trained with. Look for testimonials from singers similar to you, or other artists.
If you want your singing voice to hold up through that two hour gig, or four hour recording session, or daily live performances, you need to be sure you have a solid grasp on reliable strategies your voice can depend on time after time. You’ll only get that from someone who really knows their stuff.
I have trained extensively with The Voice College (with Dr Ria Keen), with certificates to boot, and also with top class vocal expert Chris Johnson of The Naked Vocalist and founder of Teach Voice. This means I am fully qualified to teach voice and coach singers, I have researched and experienced thoroughly how the singing voice works with the body as a whole system, and I have tried and tested real life practical strategies singers can implement into their every day singing voice. Quite often results can be heard instantly! Having said that, you’ll still need to make a bit of effort if you want long lasting results.
So whether you’re a professional singer or not, checking in regularly with a good qualified and experienced vocal coach who specialises in your desired style will do wonders for you and your singing career. A vocal coach will help you unload the baggage stopping your voice being what it can be and uncover your true voice potential.