All too often, we hear someone sing a song amazingly well and become envious of his or her control or quality of sound, leaving us to feel inadequate. We then make reckless statements, such as “I could never sound like that,” or excuses like, “it’s in their blood,” to make ourselves feel better. Could these statements be true? Might you physically be incapable of singing as well as someone else? Is there something in your blood that genetically prevents you from singing in-tune or creating a pleasing sound?
In the THROGA: 7 Dimensions of Singing book, the idea that every one of us is born with the capacity to sing greatly, is explored in depth. The argument for this is that the majority of the identifiable characteristics in our voices are defined by behavioral traits, rather than the shape and size of our instruments’ components, such as our larynx, throat and tongue. Certainly, our DNA plays a role in the foundation of our “sonic fingerprint.” However, it’s our mental programming and neurological communication to the muscles related to singing that dictates our vocal skills, resulting in the unique and identifiable sounds and skill sets within each of us.
In other words, the voice you have today, for both speaking and singing, was not determined at birth. It is in response to the degree in which you have explored, mimicked, observed and developed through your life’s experiences. Becoming aware of this is essential in your vocal journey. Acknowledging how your voice came to be, whether intentional or otherwise, will allow you to mold and fine-tune it in any direction you choose from this moment forward.
Let’s illustrate this concept using another instrument. If you and I were to sit down at a drum set and take turns playing the beat to Queen’s We Will Rock You, sharing the same pair of sticks, we would produce very different results. Despite the drums not changing structurally, our individual actions would define the majority of the sound being generated: How we hold the sticks, the velocity used against the drumhead, the precise location of contact on the drumhead’s surface, if the sticks are dragged upon release, if the rim is struck simultaneously, the placement and pressure of our feet coming down on the bass drum’s foot pedal and so on and so forth.
These factors don’t even include our individual pre-exposed experiences with playing the drums, our sense of timing or the influence of how we’re feeling in the moment: Are we worried about waking the neighbors? Are we excited to showoff our drum skills? Are we sick and tired of this song? These are all major aspects in forging the drum’s sound, despite their inability to alter the integrity of the drums themselves.
To summarize, you cannot label or determine one’s capacity as a singer based on the shape and size of his or her mechanical structures (vocal folds, larynx, pharyngeal muscles, etc.). This would be like being able to determine one’s capacity as a drummer based entirely on the length and size of his or her arms, hands, fingers and legs.
Don’t let the illusion of your voice today, in this very moment, trick you into believing that you’re stuck or limited in your ability to sing well. Singing may not be “in your blood” in the literal sense, but its potential to be is awaiting instruction. All you have to do is decide whether or not you want to improve. If you’re passionate about singing, it’s the easiest decision you’ll ever make. Quality training will help you reprogram your mental and physical behaviors like any other skill, whether it be dancing, swimming, drumming or singing. After all, your instrument may be built from your DNA. But your voice isn’t.
WRITTEN BY RICHARD FINK IV