Not personal (sourced at

A simple thought this week, from a revelation a student had: it’s not personal when you’re not satisfied with your singing. As she put it, “I mean, it’s personal because it’s you, it’s your voice and you identify with it. But it’s not personal in that it’s not an attack against you personally when your voice doesn’t sound the way you want it to.”

What she was getting at here is that we get very caught up in ego gratification when assessing our singing sound. It’s a good day when we feel like we sound good. It’s a catastrophic day (c’mon, we’re Drama Queens after all) when we feel like we don’t. But the thing is that such pronouncements about good, bad, catastrophic or whatever are irrelevant. Our voice is just what it is in the moment, and we can detach from the perceived “result” and just notice it for what it is. When we take the time to stand back and observe what the actions and physical sensations were that resulted in a certain singing sound, we assume responsibility for that sound. We have agency over it. In other words: we are not subject to the whims of some vocal gods. We are actually responsible for the actions we do that produce the sound, and we can learn from our missteps and choose differently next time if we weren’t satisfied (ah, the divine dissatisfaction that is the artist’s plight!).

This came as a quite welcome reminder after my admission of guilt in the last post about negligence in practice. I’m still not there yet (back in practice mode), but I’m allowing the hiatus to be a time of consideration of what the practice means to me and I’m not taking it personally.