Photo by Bo Huang (2019)

We can only dance with the one who brung us. Namely, ourselves. Try as we might to be someone different, wedge ourselves into a box that seems more palatable, our voices will always resist this crime against nature. I know, because I have resisted my true self in the past so often. If only my voice were bigger, higher, faster, more thrilling! I’ve longed to be someone else, and denied my own best, most original self. But it never works.

It’s the end of another term, and as my students go about preparing their final projects, the ugly head of perfectionism rears its head more frequently. Struggling with their limitations, they feel themselves falling short of their own unrealistic expectations and constantly compare themselves (unfavourably) with their peers (who are also comparing themselves to THEM, equally unfavourably!). Sadly, in so doing, they deny their own unique and wonderful attributes in the mad dash to be somebody else.

The thing is, we can only sing who we are. When we’re willing to surrender and open ourselves to our truest nature, our voices respond with vibrancy and immediacy. When we care more about the story we’re telling and how we’re telling it than the sound that’s coming out of our face, we stand a chance of communicating successfully and even beautifully. Our voice is such a powerful expression of who we are and what matters to us. If we sing with an open heart from that truth, our voices want to open up too. I’m seeing this lately with a few singers who have started to embrace their authentic nature instead of fighting it, and the results are astonishing. What might happen if we all gave it a go?