Well, not really, but here goes the analogy.
What if I DID want to be a ballerina? Do I have the right body type? No. Do I have the physical attributes for that particular style and genre of dance? No.
Could I still take dance class and barre class and stretch my body in that genre? Yes.
Does that make me a ballerina? No.
The same goes for voice.
Figuring out the physicality of the instrument is the first step to discovering where it is best suited, and what is best suited for.
Just because we like a certain genre, a certain style, doesn’t mean we are best suited there to perform it. Can we learn the technical demands? Yes. Can we sing the notes. Yes. Can we sing it in the shower, in the car, while vacuuming? yes. Does it mean we can lead with it in an audition or put it on our rep list? Not likely.
Is that okay? Of course it is!
Part of discovering vocal authenticity is finding out what that voice is capable of, and then how you develop it to claim it fully. Part of that discovery has to do with the sheer physicality of the instrument, and part of it has to do with how your psychology informs that physicality as well.
Just because you took rep classes in school and had to have every sub-genre in your book, doesn’t mean you are actually going to sing it!
Just because you did a classical voice performance degree and had to jump the repertoire requirements hoops for your juries and your recitals, doesn’t mean your voice is ready for opera!
It simply means, you took the time to learn about, try on, discover those genres, and styles and present them within a closed environment.
Now, once you leave said environment, you have to discover the differences of what you truly are best suited for professionally, versus what you might keep exploring in the studio or in your living room!
The more you can hone in on what styles and genres inform your voice and how your voice is revealed most authentically through, the more you claim your place!
Similarly, if you are a singer/actor who moves well - why would you focus so much time and attention on dance classes if you are never going to go to a dance call? Focus on what you DO, and then take the appropriate dance classes for what you NEED.
As a singer, you can explore these possibilities as well, within genre and style. Try it on. See how it fits. See what it reveals - possibilities, perhaps, which then means a more concentrated focus to develop something technically to access that possibility; or that you may want to sing that genre, but it’s not authentic in a professional situation, so explore the technical aspect of it, as that strengthens the voice anyway, and let what you DO become stronger because of that realization!
Find out what your voice does as you build the technical behavior. Observe it. What can it simply DO without any genre or style to inform it yet?
The size, the intensity, the tessitura, the colors, the textures, the facility, the balance of resonance: What does it do?
Then begin to explore what genres it is most and best suited for. If your voice simply doesn’t have the size to sing opera, no matter what you do, that is not a professional possibility. Can you learn an aria for fun or for the technical balance it can reveal? Absolutely. That, however, doesn’t mean you will be an opera singer.
See where I am going?
Know you don’t have to, nor will you be able to, live in all genres and styles. And guess what? It’s okay! Find what fits - both physically and psychologically. How does it feel vocally? How do I feel wearing it? Is it authentic? Am I authentic?
Present YOU through the repertoire. Reveal the authenticity of your voice by choosing the genre and style that is truly what your voice is capable of. Honor the authenticity of the genre, the style, and honor yourself in the process of discovering it all!
In the meantime, ballerina or not, take a barre class just because you can feel better doing it, without the pressure of being it.
Be who you are.
Breathe into who you are.
Wear the repertoire that serves you fully, and claim it!
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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