If you take voice lessons, you’re probably hoping to improve the sound of your voice, and whenever you’re focused on sound, your tendency is to start listening. But when you listen to recordings of your voice, you realize that the way you sound to yourself inside your head is not the way you sound to others. That’s true for every human being. You only hear a distorted version of your own voice.
You hear the sound of your voice primarily through the bones of your skull. Your listeners hear the sound of your voice transmitted through air. Those are two very different modes of sound transmission. So your voice typically seems stronger and deeper inside your head than it actually sounds to your listeners. That’s why most people dislike hearing a recording of their voice. It seems unfamiliar and the version inside their head sounds better.
For that reason monitoring your speech by listening to yourself is actually a trap. You can’t hear the way you sound anyway, so you end up working with false information. The moment you start listening to yourself, you’re headed down the wrong path. So good voice lessons teach you to shift your attention away from listening to the sound you’re making and pay more attention to how it feels to produce the sound. Feeling sound.
What does that mean? Well, sound is vibration and vibration is tactile. You can feel sound by touch. Place your hand on a piano while someone is playing, close your eyes and pretend you can’t hear. You can feel the sound under your fingers. Stand in front of a large speaker at a concert or a club. You can feel the sound vibrations through your clothing or against your skin.
Most people pay no attention to the feeling of sound. Voice lessons require you to pay a lot of attention to that because feeling sound is the best and most reliable way to monitor your voice. The better your voice feels to you, the better it sounds to your listeners. When your voice feels strong to you, it sounds strong to them. When it feels easy, it sounds easy. When your voice feels great, it sounds great.
So voice lessons are not about trying to make pretty sounds. As the student, you should be completely focused on how each sound feels and asking yourself, “How could the next sound feel even better?” So when your instructor says, “Yes! That’s it!” you don’t just try to reproduce that sound again. You make a point of remembering how it felt.
That’s what voice lessons are for, to teach you how your optimal voice feels. You might be wondering, “But what am I trying to feel?” Don’t worry. You’ll get a sense of that very quickly. In general you’re looking for sensations of ease, openness, smoothness, and the feeling of sound in your whole body among other things.
If you cling to some preconceived notion of how your voice should sound during your voice lessons, you will never find your authentic voice. If you insist on listening to yourself, you will always end up sounding the same. It takes courage, but if you can shift your focus away from listening to yourself and give yourself permission to explore how your voice can feel, you’re positioned to make significant lasting changes and you will discover your optimal voice.
To learn more about the value of speaking voice lessons, click the link below and download the free booklet and video series The Sound of Success.