I AFFIRM

“I am a gift and so is my voice” – Singing My Life Principle #8

As singers, we are subject to constant scrutiny – especially in our early development when we are receiving daily feedback from teachers and coaches, and then as professionals when we become the subject of critics’ observations and our livelihood is based on our ability to be what other people want from us. Without consciousness, it can feel like we are under constant attack. Even when we are consulting ourselves, we are known to be our strongest critics. It is important to remember that our voices are our gifts. To be gifted with the ability to sing in a way that touches the hearts and minds of others is truly unique and special.

The Principle: I Am A Gift and So Is My Voice

Our SML Principle #8, “I am a gift and so is my voice” is an affirmation of what it means to be a true singing artist — gifted with a voice, studious and specific in our desire to deliver meaningful performances; sincere in our willingness to provide inspiration, comfort, joy and transformative experiences for others through our singing.

Within the realm of talents we all are imbued with certain unique gifts, what I like to refer to as our True Gifts. The singing voice is a specific gift that is given only to some. And even in the gifting itself, each person is uniquely graced. While voices can be categorized into groups of similar qualities and abilities, no two voices sound exactly alike, and no two voices are given the same exact innate abilities and design.

As we study and grow, our charge is to find the things that make our voices most unique, most special, most individual – and embrace, celebrate, and develop those things. Ultimately, the most important element that we bring to our singing is our SELVES, and the expression that we find through our unique experience, unique listening, unique personhood. Where we find musical, dramatic or technical emphasis, is different from what touches us and how that is expressed at the individual level. For example, if we put 3 sopranos singing the aria “Ach ich f​​ühl’s” side by side, they may use similar musical and linguistic gestures, but each will express those gestures in unique ways simply because they are different and unique individuals with different experiences to bring to the moment.

A Voice for All Time

I recall being in the audience when the National Endowment for the Arts honored Leontyne Price in 2008. She took the stage and we were already awestruck with her magnificent presence and I will never forget the sound of her voice when she stood at the microphone and deliberately delivered a short and sweet speech. Quite honestly, I do not recall what she said – and it was really unimportant. I’m sure it was something like “thank you for honoring me.” What I do remember is that even her speaking voice at 81 years old had a transcendent power that simply can’t be taught – a distinct color and empathetic vibration that touched my very soul. Importantly, she understood that power. She knew throughout her prolific singing career, and in that moment speaking that she had only to open her mouth and make sounds and she would reach people in our core.

This is the power of the voice that we must latch onto as we wade through the feedback, the critique, the opinions coming at us from every direction. When you go into the space of singing for others– be that in performance, auditions, even in lessons and coachings — you must understand that YOUR voice is unique and special. YOUR voice is unique to YOU, and ALL voices are unique unto one another. The level of training that we have is not relevant to that. The gift is given at birth and can’t be extracted. It can be misused, ill-trained, and many other things, but it can’t be detached from your being, except through physical catastrophe. If once your voice was special, it is still and always will be special. Hold onto that thought and remember that in the times when you may question your journey as a singer.

Affirm Yourself

In addition to our SML Principles, today, I offer you this affirmation:

“My voice is unique, special — a gift to others. I practice and study to earn freedom of expression, but not to earn my voice. My voice is a gift that was always meant for me.”

Affirmations are a way to support you in being peaceful, joyful and confident in your contribution as an artist. You can recite affirmations as often as necessary to remind you of the gift that you are to the world through your voice. I like to recite affirmations immediately before performances, auditions, coachings, lessons, and even sometimes before my own practice sessions. This particular affirmation is a reminder to me to value my instrument, and to go into the singing process with grace for myself, grace for my colleagues and open listening for feedback. I hope you will incorporate this into your artistic practice and find some grace for yourself.

Love in Song,
Lis

Does this resonate for you also? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

The iconic soprano Leontyne Price understood the power of her voice early on. Her legendary career was built on the immediately distinguishable character of her sound.

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