The Journey of a Voice: What Happens In Each Decade

I was chatting to someone I know in their 60s this week. The topic of my work came up, and they asked this:

What exactly happens to your voice as you get older?

I used to be able to sing pretty high with a strong voice when I was younger…

But now, it feels like I sing much lower, maybe an octave lower, and it’s much weaker than I remember.

This is actually a fairly accurate (albeit abridged) experience of what happens to voices that do not receive help as they age. As they asked, I explained what happens and why, and I thought it was worth discussing that here. Whether you are in your teens, over sixty, or somewhere in between, it is really helpful to know how the voice changes as we age, and what tends to happen along the way. Continue reading “The Journey of a Voice: What Happens In Each Decade”

Discipline vs Motivation: The Power of Sustainable Habit

All my clients are singers, and a large number are professional/professionally-minded musicians and artists. For various reasons, the kind of client that works with me tends to be at the higher end of the self-development mindset. This means that whatever they do, they tend to take it seriously and work hard at the things they do, to whatever extent they can.

Nevertheless, the current state of the UK has taken away (albeit temporarily) a lot of the outlets that people are working towards. This has been hard for many. Not just for those whose income is partly or wholly dependent on the music industry (up to 64% of UK musicians are actually considering or have left the music industry), but for anyone who enjoys the outward pursuit of music and performance.

Discipline vs Motivation

The lack of specific musical outlet can dampen enthusiasm, or lead to a more ambivalent feeling towards music. For those with musical inclinations this can make things feel like their process of self-development has stalled – not just due to a current lack of outlet, but that the lack of outlet means they feel less motivated to work on things.

To some extent, when external factors change, this often highlights the difference between those who are highly disciplined irrespective of external circumstance, and those who are highly motivated primarily because of external circumstance. Continue reading “Discipline vs Motivation: The Power of Sustainable Habit”

Why certain singing questions SEEM important, but aren’t

If any of you have studied anything to a high level, you’ll know just how deceptively complex almost any given subject can be. This seems self-evident for subjects like quantum physics, philosophy, economics, brain surgery, microcomputers, etc. Even their subject titles require some explanation to most lay-people, and almost every word used within that subject requires deep understanding and definitions to put everything together.

The Learning Paradigm

With such subjects, we enter into a mental paradigm where we accept that complete knowledge of all elements is not possible. This paradigm directs helps us appreciate the vastness and nuance of the subject, and directs our learning. It also typically keeps us humble and always open to further insight.

Viewing subjects in this way usually helps us see the multi-faceted nature of such subjects, and not to assume anything. This further helps us to grasp that we need to study from experts, undergo apprenticeships, and spend many years in training to acquire requisite skills to get our understanding right.

One key thing to note: in such subjects we accept that often what may initially seem like an obvious and sensible question to ask, may in fact reveal a thought process that shows one does not (and sometimes cannot!) fully grasp the nuances of the subject at hand. Continue reading “Why certain singing questions SEEM important, but aren’t”

My Current Top Five Book Recommendations

Those who know me, know I read a fair bit. On an average month I read 2-5 books a month, typically one fiction and the rest are non-fiction.

This week I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite books on learning, which is one I think everyone should dip into (number 1 below). It then occurred to me “what other books do I think people should read?“. Hence, I thought I’d feature my current five book recommendations. Each of these dives into some aspect of learning in life. Picking even just one of these would – in my opinion – do everyone a world of good. I’ve included direct Amazon links for each of these books so you can purchase them quickly – pick one that interests you, and get stuck in. Continue reading “My Current Top Five Book Recommendations”

Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness

This week I was having a conversation someone about vocal robustness, i.e. being able to sing for long periods, and for sustained touring schedules.

I’ve written numerous articles on the primary causes why people lose their voice on a regular basis, through overuse, misuse, and abuse. I’ve got a full listing of related articles at the footer of this article.

A lot of people see vocal robustness as something wholly separate to vocal technique. Robustness is somehow “just one of those things“, and technique is something separate, primarily determining range, tone, ability to riff, etc. However, they are not at all separate. Vocal robustness is inherently a by-product of good technique, and here’s why… Continue reading “Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness”

The Danger of Labelling Yourself as One Thing or Another

Recently, I’ve had a lot of conversations – within the context of music and outside of it as well – about identity, especially when it comes to creating labels for oneself. Worry not, we’re not going into the weeds on this. It’s a huge topic, with many facets, each with far more nuance, psychology and depth than I could possibly bring justice to. Instead, we’ll be remaining firmly within the context of voice.

Singers, like every human on earth, want to find their identity – vocally speaking. They want to figure out who they are, what their voice is capable of, what they are good at, and cultivate artistry. This tends to manifest in overly definitive, declarative statements beginning with “I am “.

Moreover, people typically want to acquire their own ‘vocal manifesto’ ASAP in their vocal development, even if it is way too soon for them to ascertain such characteristics.

As such, often these labels are initially inaccurate, as less experienced singers frantically try to firm up a complete vocal identity for themselves. But even if these labels start out as accurate, why should they stay that way? As voices develop or change with time, these statements can themselves become inaccurate.

Which brings us to today’s topic: a danger of self-labelling is that singers cling so tightly to labels that they feel immutably define “who they are“, that they cannot let go of this identity even when it doesn’t fit where they are at. This can inhibit development massively, but even worse, it can be a huge source of unresolveable anxiety to the singer. Let me share a few examples. Continue reading “The Danger of Labelling Yourself as One Thing or Another”