I have written ad nauseum about awareness.
Whether it’s in the context of Alexander Technique, setting intentions, or being mindful, awareness has become a trope of mindset work.
And it’s not just me. Everyone is talking about it.
While we don’t want to do things on auto-pilot, sometimes being too aware can really mess you up.
Just ask Linus here.
As I wrote in a blogpost about a year ago, you learn technique in order to master a set of skills. But if you obsess about specific technical things while you are performing, you aren’t focusing on what you have to say, which is, ultimately, why you are singing in the first place.
When I was a young singer, my teacher at the time told me that I opened my mouth crooked and that I needed to open it straight. “Straight! Staight!” she would cry out in her Romanian accent, while I did my best to drop my jaw down in a way that met with her approval.
When I look at pictures from that era, I look as though I had lockjaw. I sang in a masterclass and saw teachers in the room palpating their jaw at the tempo-mandibular joint, trying to figure out just what the heck I was doing. As a result, my articulation suffered, my resonance suffered, and I looked just plain weird.
When I moved to Maryland later that year, my new teacher, Marianna Busching, commented, “You seem to have a lot of jaw tension.” I explained about my crooked mouth opening, and she said, “Maybe your jaw is just crooked. Let’s just work on releasing it and see what happens.” And yep, my mouth tends to open a little bit to the right, but it really isn’t a big deal. It opens more to that side if I’m tired, but otherwise, it’s really not something for me to worry about.
So while your teacher may call attention to something you are doing with your tongue, or your jaw, or your alignment, or your breath, it is ultimately just one factor in the total package of technique. If it becomes your only focus, then you are not paying attention to the other elements of vocal technique, and your awareness has crossed the line into self-consciousness. And you aren’t paying attention to your message, because it has become secondary to your self-consciousness about how your jaw is opening, or what your tongue is doing.
And if that’s the case, what’s the point of singing?
To everyone who has ever worked with me, I hope you’ve never felt that I’ve drawn undue attention to one thing to the detriment of your express.
And I certainly hope you’ve never felt this way.
If you want to work on your vocal technique in service of the story you have to tell, why not set up a Vocal Discovery Call to see if we can make that happen?