I get it. As singers, we are hypercritical of ourselves. We fall into the trap of comparison, we get preconceived notions of how we think we should sound, and we beat ourselves up if we don’t fit in the boxes we’ve made for ourselves.
I can’t tell you how many years I spent hating my voice (ok, I can – it’s been about 30 years), and wishing that I could sound like other sopranos. I wanted to keep my 20-year-old light lyric voice because that was the voice type that appealed to me most. I wanted to forever be a “Susanna”, even though I was growing into a “Countess”. I didn’t want to “grow up”. Because I somehow thought that being told I had a big sound meant that my voice was “heavy” and “woofy” and that I’d never be able to sing coloratura again.
It wasn’t until very recently, like literally 3 lessons ago, that something changed. Though, to be honest, I think my mindset was already slowly starting to shift a bit thanks to my current voice teacher.
I decided to listen to my lesson recording with 100% objectivity, rather than my usual subjectiveness. And do you know what? I started hearing my voice truly for the first time. I noticed things that I never heard before and for the first time, like ever, I had nothing negative to say! It’s funny how when we get out of our own way we can finally see or hear what other people do!
Is my voice exactly where I want it to be? Of course not! I still have A LOT of work to do – but at least I am at a point in my journey where I no longer hate the sounds I make. I actually like my voice now. And one day I hope to love it. But for now, I’m getting to know it better and nurture it and become friends with it. And I’m excited to see it grow up. I’ll make a kick-ass Countess someday!
Because I know that I am not alone in these feelings, I wanted to share all of the things that have been helping me to learn to love my singing voice.
Stop comparing yourself to other singers!
I know this is an easy mindset to get yourself into, but try not to! Your voice is a unique and beautiful one-of-a-kind sound! No one else in the world sounds like you (and that’s a good thing!) so own your uniqueness!!!!
Stop listening to haters!
Not everyone is going to love your voice and that’s ok! For every one person that doesn’t like your sound, there are ten others who love it! As long as you are singing what makes you happy and telling the stories that you want to share, who cares what some jelly belly thinks? Because it’s usually jealousy that causes people to react unkindly in the first place!
Practice, practice, practice!
Your voice isn’t going to magically become technically sound overnight – though it would be so cool if it could! We need to show up for our voices to grow up! Just like any other muscle in our bodies, our voices need to be worked out to get stronger and more developed. Of course, part of practicing is also taking care of our voices too, so be careful not to overdo things (speaking from experience!).
Instead of listening to recordings of yourself subjectively, be objective! This was a game-changer for me! When you get out of your own way, you’ll start to hear all of the beautiful things about your voice you never noticed before because you were too busy looking for every little mistake or negative thing. I challenge you to try this! Listen to yourself as if you are a teacher listening to a student and see what you notice! I bet you’ll be amazed!
Be Kind to yourself!
I know it’s easy to beat yourself up over every little mistake, missed opportunity, rejection, etc. But instead of getting down on yourself, be kind. Understand that singing is a complex and difficult art form and that you will always have something new to learn and more ways to grow and hone your craft. If you didn’t get that role you wanted so badly, don’t let that set the stage for the rest of your vocal life! Know that there will be other and better opportunities waiting for you!
Sing what makes you happy!
I probably get a lot of eye-rolls because I pretty much only sing Mozart. But you know what? I don’t care! His music, while challenging and deceptively difficult, makes me happier than any other composer’s music. I feel less stressed and I love singing the most when I sing Mozart. Find your Mozart – find what makes your soul the most content and satisfied to sing! Make that your vocal niche.
Any singers out there – how are you learning to love your own unique sound? Is this something you struggle with? Let me know in the comments! Also, get more vocal and singing tips at my other blog, Diary of a Soprano.