Why you don’t need to find your voice
Confession: The phrase ‘find your voice’ kinda makes me cringe 😖 Simply because it’s inaccurate. I mean… did you wake up speechless? Did it disappear in the washing machine, chilling with your favorite socks? Or did you leave it in your jeans pocket?
Darling… you already HAVE a voice! You don’t need to find it.
What people usually mean when they say ‘I want to find my voice’ is:
I don’t like the sound of my voice
I want to sound more unique
I want to sound more like ME
I want to sing with more ease
I want to sound more professional
I want to sound more polished
This, we can work with. But saying you need to find your voice is saying you don’t think YOUR natural voice is good enough.
You don’t need to find your voice. You need to ✨allow✨ your voice.
‘Ok, that’s all well & good, but HOWWW’, you may wonder.
Here is a rundown of my favorite tools, mindset shifts & exercises.
Accept what comes out
The basis of it all is: you have to accept yourself & your voice as it is right now. What comes out of you may not be the end product, but if you judge every sound you make, that is only going to create tension in your brain & body. And as we all know, tension is the arch nemesis of resonance. Tension is going to take your vocal control away.
So, first, we need courage. The courage to just sing without judgement. There is no contest, no prize to win, and you’re not performing at the Grammy Awards (yet). Nobody is here to judge, so just let your voice do its thing. Don’t expect perfection. It’s not about sounding like Adele right now. It’s about accepting your voice in its current, natural state.
When you tackled the courage part, next is curiosity. Instead of expecting mistakes, flaws, failure, can you move your voice in different directions for the fun of it? Go from intimate to powerful, from dark to light, from sad to joyful, from low to high, and just….play.
If you do this on a regular basis, the next phase you’ll enter is confidence. The more you get to know YOUR voice, the more you can predict what comes easy to you, what needs a little support, and what is just not for you right now. (Whistle tones, for me.)
If you make acceptance your default, you can grow much quicker from there. You can then stretch what comes natural to you, instead of reaching for something that you think you SHOULD be capable of. Eliminate as much mental & physical tension as you can, and your voice will reward you.
I was debating whether or not to put this on the list, because it’s like: duh. But it’s not ‘duh’, it’s actually an essential part of the whole thing. Vocal technique is NOT the end goal, but if you understand how to utilize your body to maximize your sound…well, obviously that’s going to help you express your authentic voice in the easiest and most pleasing-to-the-ear way possible.
Now, vocal technique is not just a physical training of the voice. You will encounter many moments where you feel stuck, and usually (almost always) that is not because of physical shortcomings, it’s because of a thought like ‘I can’t do this’. Those thoughts can create tension in the body, and block the voice from coming out, leaving you with good old: ‘See! I KNEW I couldn’t do it…’ We humans have a talent for holding ourselves back!
What many singers forget is that our job is to tell a meaningful story. This can be a sad story or a joyful one (or any of the other emotions), a concrete or a vague one, but it is definitely a story. I encourage my clients to read the lyrics out loud, relate it to their own emotional world and then sing it again. ALWAYS works miracles.
There is a difference between ‘functional’ singing and singing in that mesmerizing way. I grew up listening to Mariah Carey, so I learned about embellishments very early on! Runs and ad libs are one way to make a song your own. Other options are: vocal fry, breathiness, groove, grunts, moans, bends, vibrato, and wow, so many other things.
If you want to polish your voice a little, it’s usually a good idea to pay a little more attention to the way to start and end your words. If your onsets & offsets are embellished, they will usually sound way more professional. Try out different ways to begin and end your words, and see what feels like ‘you’.
A big disclaimer, though: if you use these embellishments in a very calculated way, it will sound…calculated. At the end of the day, experimenting with decorating your words should be seen as an expansion of your singing lexicon. Some new tricks up your sleeve, if you will. But if you want to sound natural, and are looking to really get to the heart of your voice….try the following exercise:
Let me share one of my absolute favorite exercises with you. I do this one my clients all the time. It’s laugh-out-loud fun, extremely effective and…100% primal. (I call it my Neanderthal exercise.)
I developed this exercise to make the singing voice more authentic. Over the years, I’ve noticed that we singers tend to limit our singing voice to sounds that we think we should make. But what if we lead from the sounds that we naturally use to express an emotion?
Think of the primal sounds you make in your day to day life. When someone tickles you or startles you (waah!). When your friend surprises you with chocolate (aaaw!). When you smell a fresh donut (mmmm…). When you take a hot bath after a long, stressful day (aahhh). I bet you can think of a bunch more! You make a lot of these primal sounds throughout the day. Let’s see what happens when we make these sounds the core of your singing voice:
1) SAY THE FIRST LINE of your song out loud. Don’t sing it, say it. Understand what you are saying. Let the words sink in.
2) MAKE A SOUND that encompasses the feeling of the words you just said. ‘I love you’ can be sad, ecstatic, angry, giddy… so what is it for you in this song? Is it a ‘hmmm☺️’ or an ‘aaargggh😡’ or a ‘sigh😓’ or a ‘yay!🥳’?
3) SING YOUR LINE and infuse it with the sound you just made. Better yet, lead from that emotional sound and just see what comes out!
This exercise makes your singing voice instantly more interesting, more authentic, more compelling, more of every good thing.
So there you have it… No need to find your voice. Focus on befriending and expressing your natural, authentic voice!
Your mind, body & voice work in their own unique way. Want to find out the source of YOUR singing challenges and overcome them once and for all? Check out our online Vocal Psychology® course or book a private online Strategy Session with Maru
Disclaimer: Vocal Psychology® coaching is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counseling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations on my website/blog/email series and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the coaching services purchased as described.