For some, the most terrifying nightmare is to find yourself naked in the middle of the supermarket where anyone can see you. For me I have no intention to put myself on public display for all and sundry to see, but this is exactly how I felt when I first heard a recording of myself. Now obviously this is not the same and it is quite acceptable to sing anywhere you choose. Looking in the mirror you come to accept yourself and perhaps note any improvements that you’d like, but you don’t ever hear your own voice. Of course you don’t. When you listen to your own singing you are inside your body, and none else can hear what you hear. The song you project is different. It sounds different, and I only know that voice is mine because I know what I sang!
But this is my voice; the one you hear every time I sing, and just as I will try to look my best for special occasions, I also want to be the most fabulous version of myself when I’m singing. Now, preening is easy and there is a whole fashion and beauty industry based around our desire to be perfect. But knowing how to improve your voice is quite different. It takes practise. It can not be achieved by buying a new dress, or applying makeup. It requires training, breathing exercises and physical effort (no wonder it’s good for us!).
Whilst talking to my singing coach I explained how I felt about listening to recordings and she agreed how utterly naked this can make you feel as every subtle nuance and detail is recored. I’m my own worst critic and of course I want to sing better. I’ve come to realise that I am never going to be able to sing like that girl I heard with the most beautiful voice, because basically I’m not her. I’m me. I can only sing with my voice. I have to get over myself, stop worrying that she’s so talented and better than I’ll ever be, appreciate the beauty in others, and learn from them. This is about me. It’s not vanity, it’s a journey of discovery about me and my voice and what I am capable of.
Five years ago I rediscovered singing. I hadn’t really sung since school, until my sister and her fiancé asked me to sing at their wedding. Of course I said yes, before I thought about exactly how much work this would take. It turned out to be quite a lot. But I enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve been singing with a various choirs and sometimes we are recorded by 4 Part Music. Then I can hear what you hear. It allows me to appreciate what our conductor has been trying to get us to do; balance, dynamics, WORDS, being together, telling the story, keeping the energy throughout the song, singing through the phrases, breathing… this list goes on (see how much work).
About the Author : Shelly Warde is a Singer, Teacher and Mother who sings in two local choirs near Pewsey.