The human voice is the original musical instrument. People have been singing, we assume, since long before recorded history. Songs have expressed every emotion and rite of passage throughout time, and have both united people and divided them. Music has remained one of the most powerful tools of communication that exists. It has the power to heal you and to elevate your mood as well as the ability to connect you with people from other places and times. Imagine that someone could write and sing a song hundreds of years ago, and that it can still be just as effective today. No wonder everyone loves to sing and wants to sing well!
Some people are fortunate enough to sing well without any training or guidance. They may be skilled at mimicking what they've heard and liked, or they may have been raised in a musical family and grown up singing. Even these lucky few need to learn what they're doing right if they want to keep a great voice and pursue a demanding music career. In some ways the new singer who approaches this instrument as a beginner is even more fortunate. A beginner has the chance to learn good habits right away, before spending too much time drilling in the bad habits. Your body will respond to whatever action is repeated, so exercises really can work to develop a healthy and strong voice. Singing can be learned.
Reading this book will give you the information you need to understand how your voice works. But the important part is in the doing. You'll need to sing along with the exercises and keep trying out your voice to see what works and feels comfortable. If anything ever feels uncomfortable, just stop, rest, and try again. Reread the directions for each exercise and listen to the CD. If you want to practice your exercises and warm up your voice, you can use the vocal lesson in Chapter 9 every day for more rapid results. Hopefully this practice will lead you to singing lessons, in which someone is there to listen to your voice, guide you, and give you feedback.
Keep in mind that learning to sing can be hard work as well as fun. Too many people give up when they don't immediately get the results they want. The best artists are able to achieve both a sense of dedication and real enjoyment in studying and learning. The process is often more rewarding than the end result. Great singing is a combination of good vocal health and technique, the ability to connect emotionally to your song, and experience. Nobody achieves those goals overnight. It takes time and effort, but every singer will tell you it's worth it. Singing is challenging, but it has the capacity to change people's lives. It can be a delicate balancing act between extreme focus and total abandon. Letting go of inhibitions is frightening for most people, and singing can make you feel both silly and vulnerable if you judge yourself. Many times people feel exposed and humiliated by a bad vocal sound but wouldn't at all mind making the same mistakes in learning piano or guitar. Fortunately, this trepidation is more than matched by the excitement you'll feel when you sing well.
The best starting point for this book is a sense of adventure. Singing is exciting and it takes a large dose of courage to overcome its challenges. It's important that you find ways to keep your lessons enjoyable so that you're encouraged to continue to learn and grow. Let part of your time be spent learning the technical aspects that will allow you to depend on your voice, but also explore the story of each song you sing. If you make that story the most important thing to communicate whenever you sing, you'll have an appreciative audience. And finally, you can copy other singers at times to get the feel of a certain style, but ultimately you should learn to love your own voice with its unique sound and personality. Your individuality is your greatest gift and source of artistic power. Have fun with the exercises in this book, and happy singing!