What happens if you spend thousands of dollars and many years or decades training your voice only to discover that the training process you have invested in doesn’t work? What do you do?
Can you “untrain” yourself? (Yes, many have). Do you blame your teachers? (Maybe, it depends). Do you find yet another teacher or school? (Maybe). Do you train yourself? Do you stop singing? What do you do?
No one can tell you what to do if you find yourself in such circumstances but it certainly would be possible to feel totally disgusted about such a state of affairs. It could make you feel depressed, angry, despairing, frustrated, afraid, lost and confused or any number of other things.
Along the way it’s possible to go down a path that looked good initially but somehow went wrong when you weren’t paying attention. It can be that you had problems with your voice that were undiagnosed as functional issues at the beginning and that they got worse as the training got more intense. It can be that you developed problems by training to do things that were vocally too difficult too soon. It could be that you were asked to pay attention to things that were not important until they became dominant in your singing with negative results. There are all sorts of possibilities of how things can go wrong. Worse, you could be blamed for all these issues and you could believe those accusations.
As I have written here many times, there are no rules about singing, about training for singing, about performance, about vocal ability- no rules anywhere. There are expectations in each section of the profession (out in the world) and sometimes a completely different set of expectations in academia. Academia can be very removed from real world music marketplace values and parameters. It takes a long time to know what you don’t know, what the profession knows, how it works, where to look for what you need, and how to assess what you are “purchasing” in terms of vocal education. One of the reasons I write this blog is to help make more information about the profession available to people who seek it.
Voice science is very important. It should prevent people from going too far afield in terms of what they teach, but unfortunately, it is no protection. I know some teachers of singing who are very big names in the world of voice science/vocal pedagogy who do not themselves sing well, and do not know how to make the science apply to themselves in a way that serves their singing well. This does not bode well for their students. So, sadly, science doesn’t automatically help us. You have to know how to apply the principles of vocal function to singing such that it helps you sound good and feel good. It’s not automatic.
Singing with your thyroid cartilage tilted and your vocal folds stiff might give you a good sound, if you knew how to tilt your TC and stiffen your vocal folds. Me? I don’t know how to do that. I just know how to sing a firm head dominant tone. It might help you to sing with your larynx in a certain place (down, up, held, or position #2, or #3) and good for you if it does. Me? I don’t know where to put my larynx, I just know if the sound I’m singing is the sound I want and the sound that feels good and belongs in the music I’m singing. You might like singing with your arms hanging limply at your sides like wet spaghetti. Me? I move my arms, my body, and anything else that allows me to be honestly expressive. I don’t think about it, I just do what seems natural.
If you had training for singing that did not serve you well, regardless of what it was or where it took place, and you want to keep singing, dump the old habits and behaviors and give your throat a chance to find itself. If you aren’t happy with your singing for any reason at all, go out and find a way to recapture your happiness. It’s worth the search. If you don’t know what’s good or bad, right or wrong, and you feel lost, know that there is a community of people that will be there supporting you as you fix that. It’s the community of teachers and singers who use Somatic Voicework™. We welcome you. We know how you feel. Let go of that old, not so good training and find what makes you happy. It exists. All you have to do is reach out.