Singing - It's All In Your Head

As a vocal teacher, I tend to use a lot of visual images when I teach and am constantly surprised at the results. Simply placing a new picture in someone’s mind can dramatically alter the tone, pitch and intensity of the note they are singing. I think part of the magic is that it stops them focusing on how difficult what they are doing is and allows their instrument to really be free.

To illustrate, I have one vocal student – I’ll call her Cheryl. She is very shy and quiet and is always very reluctant to allow her voice to produce a big sound or a strong, clear tone. During her lesson last week, I asked her to imagine that her voice was a golden laser beam and it needed to go right through the window and touch the house behind mine which is visible from my studio. She took a deep breath, and the sound that came out of her absolutely gave me shivers. It was by far the brightest, strongest and clearest tone she had been able to produce in the last month of lessons. The exciting thing is that it showed her that THAT voice exists within her and that she just needs to use the mental keys to unlock it.

Another student this week is struggling with singing on pitch. I had him imagine that his voice needed to land on top of each note as though there were a frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. Just incorporating that simple visualization helped him to stop scooping underneath the notes which made him consistently flat and clearly land on top so each note was right on pitch.

Years ago when I taught in Connecticut, I had an adult male student who jokingly once said “you’re teaching Zen singing”. If you consider the definition of the word Zen: “enlightenment through meditation and intuition”, I think he was right. Much of the work I do involves helping people find that inner “a-ha” moment that puts wheels into motion and allows them to discover their true vocal ability.

What comes completely naturally to one person does not to another just as using one visual might work for one person but not for someone else. I would encourage all singers or aspiring singers to regularly use imagery that resonates with them and feels right. One size most certainly does not fit all and remember, it’s all in your head!