Imitation Versus Authenticity

Sadly, a good number of today’s most popular voice training methods use imitation as the basis for what they teach. They ask singers to “do this” and then sing, and it inevitably is the case that the singers are holding on to a particular vocal behavior while singing in order to get the “right” kind of sound. The musical and stylistic behaviors of any particular kind of music are part and parcel of the vocal production, so the imitation includes various “riffs” and “gestures” that make the music seem authentic. Seem authentic.

The problem with this, of course, is that only freely made sound can truly express deeply felt emotion and you virtually cannot (that is CANNOT) hold onto your throat deliberately and also sing freely. PERIOD. You must condition the throat to do what it does without your having to pay any conscious attention to the vocal production, until that is a reality. If you do not do that, you will sound like someone else’s version of you.

Why teach anyone to manipulate the throat deliberately? Isn’t the job of the singing teacher to take a student away from such behavior? Isn’t it the job of the voice professional to recognize wrong function and correct it until it is balanced and free?

With all the electronic manipulation of singing done both in the studio and live, how is one to know what a singer actually sounds like without help? When was the last time you heard anyone sing with so much emotion that you were actually touched by what they had to communicate? You have to search hard (though it isn’t impossible) to find artists like that. You would probably have to search even harder to find singers who even understood that that should be a goal of good singing, and that is really sad.

Yes, you can “make like as if” you felt something while you were singing. You can “act like” you were really feeling something in a song. You can “sound like” you have a deep emotional message to communicate in a piece, but if your throat is open and free to respond and you actually feel deeply what you are singing about, the emotion cannot help but show up, honestly, without any additional help, all by itself. You will sound like yourself, in your own voice that is instantly recognized, if you leave your throat to its own devices and sing freely from the depths of your soul.

That is what I want from a singer when I teach.

Look hard to find that, folks, if you take singing lessons.

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