Finding Your Voice
My Grade 12 music teacher, Mr. G., believed that everyone has the ability to sing, they just need to find their voice.
And you know what? The same can be said about blogging, podcasting, tweeting, and, well, just about anything to do with communicating online. When we are first starting out around here, we feel silly, shy, and self conscious. We write or record a bunch of things we never post. We are fearful that people are going to make fun of us, disagree with our opinions, and that we’ll never get any better at it. Sometimes we just give up completely, when what we really need to do is just find our voice.
Mr. G. used to tell us that the reason most people can’t sing is because they don’t know how to breathe. I thought that was an odd statement – isn’t breathing a reflex? But it turns out that singing is all about breathing. Mr. G. would demonstrate this by bringing an unsuspecting soul up to the front of the class, then ask them to sing a note that he played on the piano. What often came out was a throaty squeak. Mr. G. would tell them to keep singing the note, then calmly walk over and push on the person’s diaphragm (located right under the ribcage). Suddenly, the squeak became a beautiful, loud, strong note.
He’s right. We don’t know how to breathe. We drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and jump right into our busy schedules. Suddenly it’s noon and we’re working through lunch. By 5 or 6pm we’ve whizzed through it all, and are feeling guilty because we never got time to exercise or write or record our podcast. Days, weeks, months go by and we have achieved nothing – we’re still 20 pounds overweight, and we still aren’t having all those meaningful conversations we thought we could thanks to the Web.
But the simple act of focusing on breathing – in, and out – gives us that moment, where we can stop, and be clear. Make space in your life to breathe. It only takes 10 minutes to write a short post – web videos can take even less time (I can record, edit and post a 2 minute video using my iPhone 4 in 5 minutes, I’ve timed it). Breathing will help take your voice from weak and quiet to strong and loud.
Want to know why some bloggers and podcasters seem to be so popular? They practice. They do it really, really often. Some of my favourite bloggers post every single day – sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I have a podcasting friend who, at one time, was producing 9 podcasts (and has a family, and a full time job).
Of course it takes practice. It took me 4 days to write the first 1,000 words on my blog. Now I can crank out 1,000 words in about 20 minutes. Writing one blog post every 6 weeks is not going to make you any better at it, just like going for a 5 mile run every 6 weeks isn’t going to make you shed those extra pounds.
Practice. Practice. Then practice some more. Write garbage. Record crap. Scrap it and try again. Don’t be perfectly happy with it, and post it anyway. Eventually, you’ll get your feet under you. Eventually, you’ll find your voice. Trust the wise words of Mr. G. Everyone has a voice.
It’s Your Voice.
Now, when Mr. G. wisely said that everyone has the ability to sing, he didn’t exactly mean that everyone is going to open their mouth and be Celine Dion.
Everyone’s voice is unique. That’s what makes it their voice. And one’s voice is always subject to interpretation. It’s why some people think Bob Dylan can’t sing, but why others thing he has a brilliant and interesting sound.
You’re never going to appeal to everyone, so stop trying to. The fact that you may come up against criticism is no reason to not keep breathing, and practicing, and using your voice. Plenty of people don’t care for Bob Dylan’s music. Heck, I don’t like Celine Dion! But that doesn’t stop either of them from using their voices. And fear of criticism should never stop you from using yours either.
Embrace your uniqueness, and continue to use your voice. Make your voice loud, and strong. Sing from your heart, not your throat. Write and speak from the same place.
Those who want to hear you will.
[Photo credit: majicdolphin on Flickr]
There is also all the work (practice) and care someone like Celine Dion puts into her voice – same as Jimmy Page with his guitar, for example.
I don’t think anyone gets better at something unless they do it over and over and over – and repeat. And if we’re awful at it in the beginning, so what? So is everyone else when they start. 🙂
it’s okay to suck. : )
My favorite new @suzemuse quote:
“Embrace your uniqueness, and continue to use your voice. Make your voice loud, and strong. Sing from your heart, not your throat. Write and speak from the same place.
Those who want to hear you will.”
I wonder if it’s as much finding your voice as it is accepting your voice, Sue?
We want to be popular so we dilute the things we want to say, to court faux popularity with those that might help our voice go further.
But if we accepted the voice we have, and that is has value and relevance and import without the need for approval from others, perhaps we’d be better all round?
I think you’re on to something there, Mr. Brown. You’re right, we often “nice up” what we really want to say, as to not go against public opinion or what’s “popular”.
It’s something I’m working on, and will continue to work on, as I refine and grow my voice.
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