REHEARSAL VOICEOK, let's define Rehearsal Voice as the practice one, your internal voice. It can be a lot of things, such as:
- silent. The forming of intention. You're thinking your message up and imagining yourself delivering it, all of which you can do without making a sound.
- soft, breathy, mumbly, inarticulate. This is an appropriate choice when you're just thinking about saying or singing something, because you don't want anyone to actually understand you ... at least not yet! It works for compiling thoughts and experimenting with verbiage... and drumming up courage!
- or it can be plenty loud, full of experimentation and stop/start repetition of phrases we're trying to 'get right'. We tend to focus on technique, but not quite on the 'big picture' of communication. This is an appropriate choice when learning a song or speech, creating and practicing the 'dance of the melody' to commit technique choices to muscle memory. It is something we actually need to do a lot when getting ready for the main event:
PERFORMANCE VOICELet's define Performance Voice as the sound that delivers the message. It is by that very definition, your external voice. To make the successful transition to this voice, a different goal must be aimed at and hit squarely. The goal of performance voice is not compilation and distillation of thought, word and lyric. It is also not perfection of technique. It is this and only this: to get the specific response you want from the heart to whom you are communicating. It matters more than technique, or even vocal health, though of course if one wishes to be in performance voice for long, technique and health are important.
Here's the thing to remember:
Rehearsal voice in all it's components should be in the service of the voice's true reason for existing... delivering the message with Performance Voice!
WHEN YOU GET THEM MIXED UPIf you need to figure out what you're going to say or how you're going to say/sing it, then prematurely going straight to performance voice can get you in trouble these ways:
1. Your voice won't have the confidence or clarity it needs to successfully deliver its message. You may even be confused as to whom you're supposed to be directing your voice. So it won't quite know how to choose the authentic tone, phrasing, volume or articulation necessary to get the desired response.
2. If you try to use Performance Voice power before you're focused on-message and ready, you may end up with vocal strain or damage. That's because when you have the ultimate goal of getting a specific response in mind, it puts your mind, body and voice together to accomplish that goal. In other words, if you have been in rehearsal voice enough, your voice has access to a big box of crayons. Your performance voice then picks from the available options the right colors to paint the sonic picture that successfully delivers the message. I know, it sounds complicated, and it is... because human communication is chock full of subtle nuances!
WHEN SHOULD YOU DO WHAT?Ironically, even though Performance Voice is our ultimate mode, we should practice many more times in rehearsal mode than performance. You can indeed practice performance voice... but not but a couple of times in a row, because your automatic nervous system will go 'why are we doing this? we already did it!'. Like the Olympic-level events of athletics, you should actually practice rehearsal voice with more technique and crazier options than you plan to use in performance. That way, your voice KNOWS it can do what it chooses when communicating for real. Sometimes it will even get cocky and do things you didn't even know it could do... but that comes from all that time in rehearsal mode.
Be careful about what I call 'singer/songwriter syndrome'. It's one of the biggest mistakes I see in Nashville songwriter rounds. This is when the singer is unknowingly still using internal voice. Often you can see that the singer feels the song, but not communicating it outwardly. Even a very intimate song, like a movie scene, should be delivered to the intended heart in such a way that the listening audience can understand it.
EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCES
Pick a song you know, and sing it in both voices.
- Rehearsal voice: Don't use communicative body language. How does that change your sound and delivery?
- Performance voice: Communicate with your eyes, hands, stance. Hear the difference?
- As keynote speaker at a business seminar, say: "Today I'm going to show you how to successfully get your list from 'to do' to 'done.'
- As a narrator of an audio book: 'When Jim saw Jane, he totally forgot his grocery list.'
- As a reporter for a TV news segment: 'the police have the highway and the off-ramps shut down, so if you're driving, you'll want to avoid that area until later this evening; Back to you, Sally.'
- As a history teacher: OK people, let's talk about how the Middle Ages moved forward to the Renaissance Period.
- As a voiceover for a documentary: The elephants form a circle to defend their calves against the lion pack. But the lions have cubs to feed, too.
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