JUDGEMENT & PERSONAL AESTHETIC BIAS. HOW CAN THIS EFFECT OUR VOICE?
Have you, or anyone you know, been told the following by your music teacher, friend or colleague:
You can’t sing.
Get your voice out of your nose.
Stop singing through your nose. You’re nasal.
You’re singing through your teeth. Stop singing through your teeth.
Your top notes are not ‘bell like’ or, have a ring, so you can’t sing soprano.
You’re too loud.
I don’t like the sound you’re making. Change it.
You need to have a rounder sound. This is a proper voice.
Stop singing from your throat.
I don’t like your sound.
It’s not a good sound.
You need to sing from your diaphragm. The voice comes from your diaphragm.
You can’t pitch.
Can you change your song in your program, I really don’t like it.
You voice sounds twangy. I don’t like twangy voices.
Sorry, you didn’t get into choir. ( These are kids in primary school and should be inclusive and nurtured! )
That’s an awful sound. That artist, or person, just can’t sing.
You have a screechy sound.
You’re not supporting your sound enough. Support, support.
You’re not loud enough.
This list goes on and on…………
HOW DID THIS MAKE YOU FEEL?
Sad? Afraid? Nervous? Inadequate? Angry? Confused? Stressed?
Were you given any constructive solutions or guidance?
Did your music teacher, friend or colleague have good professional knowledge of the voice and aesthetics of all voice qualities?
Were you made to feel what you were doing was wrong?
Was the criticism made in front of all of your peers?
Did you feel you did not want to sing again?
Were you afraid to sing again?
Did you suffer any anxiety from these judgemental criticisms and observations?
Did you feel that your instrument started to not work with good vocal effort, after such judgement?
Did you talk to your teacher about this?
Were you told you could not sing a particular style of music? Your voice was not suited to that style? ( You can’t sing classical, you are more suited to pop, and vice-verca ).
THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU IMPOSE YOUR OWN PERSONAL JUDGEMENT & AESTHETIC BIAS ON SOMEONE’S VOICE
This is unfortunately, a very common occurrence.
There are numerous factors which contribute to how a person makes a sound for speech and singing.
It is imperative as teachers, we support, nurture our youth without judgement and aesthetic bias! To say someone hasn’t got a nice sounding voice based on your own aesthetic preference can be dangerous and damaging to the individual’s confidence, passion and vocal journey.
Our neuro pathways are connected to our larynx - vocal instrument. Any form of anxiety and negativity can cause the larynx to constrict and not work efficiently, ‘Fight & Flight’.
Once the ‘seed’ has been sewn in our brain , it can create fear and anxiety to create sound. For many, this can be detrimental, debilitating and upsetting, to the point they don’t want to, or, feel comfortable to sing again. They don’t feel ‘good enough’ to continue, and the larynx reacts in this way, ‘Fight’, and can start a constricted habitual state when vocalising.
Our youth need to be open to create, explore and play with sound without judgement, to not be afraid to make sound. It is our job as a vocal coach to encourage this, ensuring good vocal health and awareness, regardless of our own aesthetic preference. This should also be the case for all teachers.
Singing should be fun and creative, without too much pressure or stress. Not scary, or ‘pigeon holed’ by someone who may think in their opinion, is a good, nice sounding voice! ( Their own aesthetic bias ).
There is a difference between respecting style, and imposing your own aesthetic bias.
There is no right or wrong.
We can only vocalise with what we physically have, know and understand, and do so with our best intentions.
Next time you make judgement on someone’s voice or performance, think again, and put yourself in their shoes. Shouting ‘Sing out of your nose’, in front of the student’s peers is not helpful at all, nurturing, or professional, especially if you cannot translate or identify what the student is doing from a vocal craft and anatomical view.
Your own personal opinion and judgement, can be detrimental to that person for the rest of their lives. They say a ‘a little knowledge, can be a dangerous thing’. So is imposing your own aesthetic.
Everyone deserves choice and options to vocally explore.
I don’t impose any judgement or, aesthetic bias on my students, and I certainly don’t impose, or, give advice on instruments I know nothing about.
Artistry and respecting style, is another topic!
In vocal pedagogy, we are continually learning about the wonders of our vocal mechanism, and still researching the function of it. There is so much more to know and find out.
“Everyone has a beautiful voice……You just need to know how to use it” - Jo Estill
Nobody’s voice is perfect.