Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Over-thinking Vocal Training... "Trying" instead of "Letting"

Some of my most eager vocal students paradoxically sabotage their progress by over-thinking their vocal training. This is a common saboteur in other kinds of training as well...musician, sports, acting, crafts, etc. As vocal coach and producer I find it particularly vexing because I know my client is getting frustrated "trying" so hard to get it. This is the way I help them get around this brain-tangle:

The key is the word "Trying". The voice has too many "parts" that activate it... if you try to apply too many new vocal technique changes manually/consciously, your voice will freeze as frustratingly as a computer with one too many apps working.

"But Judy", a student may say, "you're telling me so many things and I'm trying to remember to do them all - how can I do that?" Fair question, and a common one in my studio because I try to move people along fast.

Here are some points I will share that may help make this process of changing your vocal habits understandable and less frustrating... in other words, More Let and less Try:
  • Vocal training IS a process. You should be able to see some instant progress, but not expect to get it all and be able to remember it without spending some time integrating the training.
  • The voice runs primarily on "auto".  That means you will experience a bit of frustration because you WILL have to "think" in order to do something differently, but you must practice this new way enough that you no longer have to focus on "thinking it" and can just trust your new instincts. This is what vocal exercises, done with excellent form, should do for you. That's why...
  • Vocal exercises will probably be physically and mentally frustrating and energy intensive... in order to do them in a way that will strengthen and coordinate...NOT strain... your voice. 
  • When training your voice, stay present in the moment.
    Don't live in the past, thinking about what your vocal coach just asked you to do, but instead trust that you will integrate the previously suggested change along with the new suggestion. Trust that if you get the previous thing wrong, your teacher will let you know, and will help you re-correct that one thing. Or, as I used to tell my son, don't try to re-order the whole room instantly, just "pick up the sock closest to you".
  • The good news is that Power, Path and Performance training is "synergistic". Meaning, integrating breath, open throat and communication techniques will ensure that if you get even one small area of vocal techique better, it will start to positively affect other areas. So relax. Let yourself learn, much like a baby learns to make vocal sounds.
Bottom line: Don't try. Instead, let. For instance:
  1. Don't try to make yourself stretch... instead, let your jaw, shoulders, upper back, face, etc. be relaxed, stretchy and flexible.
  2. Don't try desperately to project sound to your audience... instead, let your single-minded, focused intention to communicate with passion cause the body language necessary to resonate sound that causes rapt attention.
  3. Don't try to breathe. Learn how to let go of that which keeps you FROM good breath support and control, and you'll have all the breath you need.
  4. Don't try to be a perfect or speaker. Let yourself learn, being kind and nurturing to yourself as you do so your voice can trust itself.
Does this make sense to you? What is frustrates you in vocal training you've done?

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