Having technique

A lot of singers talk about ‘having technique’, which I usually assume means ‘having the capability to manipulate our bodies in such a way that we produce a marketable operatic sound’. Ignoring that minor complication that such manipulation is supposed to be relaxed and natural, we can still conclude that technique isn’t really something we attain or achieve but something we practice.

And practice, and practice, and practice.

One of my coaches has been working with me on middle voice. A lot of sopranos have trouble with that part of the voice, and I am no exception. I know that dealing with less-optimal vocal qualities is the only way that any singer improves, but making those improvements usually includes someone harping on your flaws over and over. For me at least, no matter how hard I have worked to get everything else to line up, whatever it is we are trying to tweak or fix makes me feel like my flaw is the only important thing.

Some of you may remember my multiple proclamations last summer that most singers think about quitting at least five times a day. That’s why. It takes a life-time to “have” technique, which one then needs to refine & practice. I know lots of gifted singers who for whatever reason decided not to pursue a career. I have to wonder if the stress of constant self-improvement is a reason some people decide to call it quits (rather than just dreaming about it like the rest of us).

That’s not to say that all people aren’t called to self-improvement in one way or another. Still, knowing that I am pressured to ‘improve’ something as fundamental to my identity as how I sing creates a constant tension between the part of me that wants to be lazy and the part that wants to be excellent.

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