We are often told that within the business, we are part of the equipment. In other words, if something isn't working, or we break down, we can be replaced with a newer, more reliable model!
As much as that sucks, and the truth is, we are expendable, how can we develop a more reliable, more athletic instrument? And I'm not just speaking about the voice. The voice is what I call, an "intangible tangible". It cannot function without your physical body. Your body houses that voice and if it's not optimal, the voice will let you know!
Some great articles recently about the ATHLETICISM of the singer have come out:
And, a colleague of mine, Claudia Friedlander, who is a voice teacher and personal trainer, is writing a book, "Complete Vocal Fitness", coming this spring.
Singing is an athletic activity. It is also an athletic mindset. I often use sports analogy in the studio as the athletic work is key to how we function as singers, and frankly, as anybody who uses their voices for their work.
The athleticism isn't just physical, but it's also psychological. The health of both the mind and the body are crucial to how the voice can continue to develop, and thrive.
This doesn't mean you have to be a body builder, or a marathon runner, or a triathlete, or do an Iron Man competition! (Although many singers do or have done some of these, in some form or other!)
It does mean a consciousness. It does mean a commitment. It does mean a daily attention to the health and well-being of your body and your psyche. If you want an opportunity for longevity, for sustainability, for growth, then you really need to address all of it.
The voice itself responds to what is or isn't happening physically, and often, what is or isn't happening in your mindset.
Even from a technical perspective, we return, and re-group back to the foundational balance of breath, core strength and support, and the like, as the voice continues to develop, grow, intensity. It should be our starting off point, and our loop back. It isn't starting OVER each time we re-visit it: it is adjusting the physicality to house what the voice demands of us.
As we hit different demands and road blocks in our mindset, those blocks in our psyche can often cause issues with our physicality and in turn, affect how our voices respond. Recognizing that, and dealing with it as soon as it becomes conscious is crucial to keeping yourself healthy and available to all things voice!
Singing is simply not just about the sound you make, or are striving to make. If you don't acknowledge the physical athleticism and the mindset, you are not integrated yet.
We are constantly addressing those intangibles to created tangibility! This is a life long process that should be something to look forward to each day, not dread.
So, find out what your body needs - for health and well-being. Then begin to discover what it needs to house your voice fully: strength, mobility, sustainability, flexibility, endurance. This happens away from singing and WHILE singing. The interesting thing is, when adding vibration and sustaining vocal energy, the body responds differently and the intrinsic physical energy necessary for balance and tenacity and elasticity will need to wake up! There is another level of subtle adjustment in the physical body when we add sustained vibration and power into the voice!
Where's your head? That mindset is CRUCIAL to how you do what you do. If it's not right, nothing is quite right. Nothing is quite accessible. The athletic mindset is on par with the athletic physicality. Start to consider how you speak to yourself; what voices are in your head (!!); what they say, what they DON'T say; how you approach your work, your study; how you approach HOW you learn, how you approach the rehearsal process, the audition room, the practice room. What are you NOT saying to yourself? Do you talk yourself out of things, or into them? Are they healthy? Are they getting in your way? How do you change your mindset to become more athletic and focused in how you approach your work?
There is no shame being you.
There is no need to make excuses for what you do. There is no need to make excuses for what you are unable to do.
As we recognize how our bodies respond, where we hold tension, what needs to strengthen, what needs to elasticize more fully, we simply DO what needs to be done. This allows our mind to focus on the ACTION which then creates BEHAVIOR which then allows the voice to respond and develop a TECHNICAL behavior that is reliable, repeatable, and will develop further, within the parameters of YOUR ability.
You cannot change what you do not have. You can DEVELOP what you DO have, should you take on the task of finding out what that actually IS. This is your authenticity.
Perhaps we are part of the equipment, from the business' standpoint.
I, however, want to make sure that as a singer, I am aware of every level of consciousness I can be, to make sure I am healthy and strong and can do my work consistently and at a level that I am accustomed to. I then want to see how much more I can discover, assimilate and develop!
As a teacher, I want to make sure that every singer that walks in my studio has the opportunity to find out what that athleticism could mean to them, and for them, provided they put in the work and the consistency to find it, and then to CLAIM it.
GO GET IT. It's yours, and only yours!
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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