What I Have Learned in the past few days of reading and practice is that singing, the attitude around it, is a litmus test for self-regard. Seems like kind of a wild theory, but experience and reflection and a litany of internal a-has seem to bear it out. I sing and then apologize. What does that MEAN?
I wrote to Jennifer Hamady after I read The Art of Singing. We're doing an email consultation (!) based around two tracks from MaWtBaL. (The weird thing--well, a weird thing--about this is that I am submitting final, about-to-be-released music as the impetus for correction. So I will just monitor my freakout about that as it unfolds.) In my note to her I thought, out loud, about my voice and my past as a singer and BOYOBOY did I discover some things. All of the markers on the path were moments of critique, embarrassment, even betrayal in a sense, though that feels like a really strong word in a post about going la la la. I remember starting to sing and loving it and doing it everywhere and saying "I like you" to the voice I was discovering. But then it became a numbers game: how many of my own "I like yous" would it take to counter "you need to work on your intonation" ("what's that?" "It means you sing in the wrong key") or failing to find re-do in my first eartraining class, over and over again, in front of everyone, or any number of other subtle cracks, comments, questions over the years, or, and this is maybe the worst one of all, being ignored, disregarded, the omission of the fact of the voice?
More than I could supply, it turns out, and so somehow the story became that my singing, in my own work, was a bug rather than a feature. A necessary evil. I am about to release a record on which I sing, and going into it feeling like I ought to apologize or explain doesn't feel like a comfortable or sustainable posture. I am about to play shows on which I sing, sometimes for my colleagues who, supportive though they are, structurally sit in judgment of my work. It is not going to go well if I recoil from my own sound. Others sense that. And regardless, the voice knows, the tenor of the performance transforms. It is disquieting to watch someone struggle with their voice, to publicly take issue with the sound one makes upon opening one's mouth. Partly, perhaps, that is because it is a public display of How We Feel About Ourselves.
So I am wondering if I can feel better about myself, I suppose, and use being curious about the voice, experimenting, learning to say "I like you" again, as the armature, the platform. I also wonder, a lot, about the point of writing things like this and sending them out over the internet via cryptic twitter posts or instagram photos with a "link in bio." Is that part of the voice, too? Regardless: what got me motivated today was to think about how this might make someone else's day better; rather than the overshare-as-value model I typically adopt, what if this was something you could actually use? Do you like you? I like you.