Going Ga-Ga: What My Baby Taught Me About Singing Success
So, my well intentioned attempt at regular blogging got sidelined in the latter half of last year with the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Summer. I am now a proud Mama and have spent the last several months adjusting to my new role and reviewing my Disney tunes repertoire.
While it’s no fun being away from my baby girl, it has been a pleasure coming back to work and catching up with my vocal students again. It was certainly a nice change to be able to have adult conversations after three months of “Baby-pie wanna go bath-bath?” and “Did-joo doo a poo poo???”.
These days when students ask me how the little one is doing, I will tell them that we have been blessed with a very ‘talkative’ baby who is increasingly delighted by the sound of her own voice. What started out as simple “aaahs” and “uuhhs” very soon progressed to consonant-vowel combinations, such as “gah-gah”, “haaaag” and even more complex ones like, “ngaah” and “ull-lull-lull-lah” (I was impressed).
In fact, just the other day when I came home from running an errand, Summer, who was sitting on our nanny’s lap, turned towards the door, looked directly at me, grinned and exclaimed, “Ma!” Now, my husband would disagree, but if you ask me, that counts. Plus, I have our nanny as a witness.
When I watch my daughter making her adorable little vocal sounds, I am reminded of the pure joy and excitement that comes with learning a new skill without any inhibitions. Here’s a person who comes with no preconceptions or fears of how she should or shouldn’t sound, no expectations placed on herself of achieving perfection and no qualms about how she may look to others. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all put aside any pressures or expectations we may place on ourselves when learning something new and just enjoyed the process.
Too often I work with singers whose biggest challenge ultimately has little or nothing to do with the actual physical part of their voice. One of my mentors once taught me that learning to sing is really 10% physical and 90% mental. So many of us get caught up in all the things we don’t like about ourselves. We focus too much on our flaws and what we’re doing wrong that we forget what it’s like to just play.
I am a firm believer in the idea that if you were born to talk, then you were born to sing. If you’re a frustrated vocal student, I speak from experience when I say that how you think about your voice and yourself, be it consciously or sub-consciously, has a significant impact on your ability to achieve your singing goals.
The key is to focus on the potential, to discover all that is possible rather than get stuck lamenting over what it is you can’t yet do.
In the not so distant future when Summer is well past her ga ga’s and goo goo’s, she will go to school where she will learn that there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. She will discover that certain skills will come naturally to her while others will require more work. She may even develop some shyness around the things she does not immediately excel in. She will receive praise when she succeeds and will discover that there is such a thing called ‘failure’. But if she’s lucky, she will have teachers who will encourage her to experience the joy in the process of learning.
My hope is that my little girl will forever carry with her the same sense of free-spirited fearlessness that she has at this very moment and will remember that “failure” is always the precursor to success so long as you don’t give up trying.
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