About two months ago, I began working with a new student. During our trial lesson, this student immediately said that she was a) not a real singer, and b) definitely didn’t have a voice. She was here because during a group meeting at the library, someone had said to her that her voice didn’t seem to match her. This seemed a particularly ominous proclamation to her as speaking in public was already a new and challenging part of her life. In her retirement, she was now doing a lot of public speaking and was having to learn to be comfortable taking the spotlight and being listened to. Her friend had suggested singing lessons as a way to “find her voice”, and this had brought her to us at Sage Music. She didn’t feel confident speaking in front of others, her voice often cracked or broke, and she came here hoping to find a way to connect to this most basic human ability to communicate.
This goal: “to find your voice” is an essential part of singing lessons at Sage Music. We are not a school built on outdated systems, or relying on techniques that are rigid or unadaptable. At Sage Music, we make sure all of our students have lessons specifically designed to meet their goals. Why are you here for lessons? What are you looking to achieve? How can we help you accomplish your goals? Our students come here looking for all sorts of different things: confidence, technique, performance opportunities, and to be a part of our vibrant musical community. When listening to this student’s story, it struck me that “finding your voice” is the goal for all of our students – not just singers! Sage Music is here to help you develop, grow, and find your inner ability to make music. Your voice.
As a child, I developed a horrible stutter in middle school. What began as a hesitation became an inability to get through certain sounds and a chronic catch on all of my consonants. There were times when I couldn’t speak. I would be stuck on words, get flustered, feel trapped by my inability to express myself, and shut down. Making friends was terrifying; class presentations were impossible, and I had this awful feeling of being invisible. After about a year of this, my mother signed me up for an opportunity to sing in a musical. While I had always loved singing, I was terrified; what if my stutter had taken away music from me as well?
It had not! I was astonished to find that singing opened everything up for me. I was confident on stage, I was comfortable making noise, and being present in the room. Words that would be virtually impossible for me to say were effortless when set to music. I started learning how to breathe, how to project my sound, and I learned to be secure about making noises again. Singing lessons literally set me free; they gave me back my voice.
No matter whether you are working on preparing for an audition, working towards a performance, singing for fun, or just trying to learn the confidence to speak up for yourself, singing lessons can help you too! Your voice is a beautiful, unique, and vital part of you. It is how you express yourself, assert your opinion, and connect with the world you live in. When you understand how your voice works you learn how to speak and sing healthfully, and to be connected to one of the core elements of yourself. When you are connected and in control of your voice, you will be more confident, more assertive, and better equipped to express what you want!
For performers of any genre, understanding the mechanics of your voice is critical. Not only do singers have to learn to play our instrument, we have to learn to put it together everyday with different materials! Maybe you didn’t get a full night’s sleep? Maybe you are recovering from a cold? Maybe you have been singing really high for a few days, and need to be able to belt? Having a solid vocal technique is the only way to reliably do this without hurting yourself, and pushing your instrument. With this technique, no matter what is going on, you will be able to check in with your voice, understand what you need to do to accomplish your goal, and build the ability to take charge and know your voice will do what you need. Too often, singers can fall under the idea that their voice is either “there or not there”, or “good or bad”, because they don’t have the tools to be in control. Sage Music understands that it is not a question of having a “good” or “bad” voice. It is about learning to build and play your instrument with a reliable technique every day.
This particular student is taking lessons because she wants to learn to have a voice. For her, voice lessons is about reclaiming the feeling that she is in ownership of her sound, and her space. For many years she felt that she didn’t have a voice, that she wasn’t listened to, and that she was unable to assert her personality in situations. In our lessons she is finding the confidence to reliably accomplish her goals, and to have a system she can always rely on. She is fundamentally changing her approach to not only singing, but to learning, to practicing, and to new ideas. The systems in place that we have developed for her, work for her – because they are tailored to meet her goals!