When I was in college my boyfriend told me I sang with too much attention to technique, like I was in some kind of recital. I was singing along with Nirvana, probably using my head voice (with vibrato). He was so very right. And in that way, my punk drummer boyfriend became a new kind of vocal coach in my life.
In middle school and high school I learned the “right” way to sing and got a bit caught up in that mentality. We had Regionals and All-State auditions, and it seemed like the kids who were in bands, who sounded fantastic and fun, were rejected in favor of those who had well-trained, plain sounding voices.
This is not to say that good vocal technique must make you sound plain – quite the opposite – but focusing on what is “right” rather than what is natural, authentic and real within you certainly will. Technique should keep your voice healthy while you explore your musical emotions and allow your own sound to develop.
After my boyfriend made that comment I started to think about who my favorite singers were, and they weren’t vocalists with perfect technique. My list at the time would have included:
While I appreciate a well-trained voice that is open, flexible and sounds completely flawless, I want to hear songs fueled by raw emotion like any other music lover.
Magic happens when you can connect vocal training with that kind of feeling. Then you can inspire others and create music your entire life, using your entire vocal range, with a healthy voice that is free of issues.
My passion as a vocal coach is to take those with that kind of natural connection to music and help them emote bravely, effortlessly and effectively.
Take it from my punk-rock-college-band-drummer-boyfriend: Reaching your potential as a singer doesn’t mean focusing on a singular idea of what is “proper.” It means mastering your instrument so you can express yourself in a meaningful, perhaps earth-shattering, way.