by Ramesha Nani
Have you ever tried to play a string instrument such as the guitar, while covering the hole in the sounding board? The tone becomes soft and weak: no resonance, no richness, just a dry and uninteresting sound. Similarly, when you sing with your heart closed, your singing will lack resonant heart qualities and you’ll be unable to convey true feeling. You may try to “fake it” by making your performance more emotional, but the audience will be able to tell the difference. People relate to authentic feeling. They may be momentarily swept up in the drama of your emotionalism, but they’ll leave the performance feeling empty (and empty-hearted).
Music, in order to truly benefit us, has to resonate with the heart. If the heart is closed, the voice will tend to be tight, and vice versa. Learning how to relax and expand the throat and how to place your voice correctly will assist you in opening your heart, which will allow you to express more of who you truly are.
A constricted voice can be an indication that a person is fixed in old habits and resistant to change. When learning correct voice placement (including learning to open your throat) you go through different stages. At the beginning, you won’t necessarily understand the point behind everything your voice teacher asks you to do, which requires you to have a certain amount of faith in the teacher. Sometimes, in fact, after a few weeks of training, you may end up sounding worse than when you started! Why? Because the teacher’s job is to help you get rid of bad habits, tendencies you must unlearn before you can learn the correct way, and this leaves you temporarily betwixt and between—gone is the old but you don’t yet know how to do the new!
In my experience it’s often more challenging to teach a student who’s been singing for many years than it is a beginner. The more advanced singer may be attached to the way he does things, which makes it hard to let go of old, less effective ways of singing. Or maybe he simply doesn’t trust his teacher enough to take that necessary leap of faith. BUT—as soon as the student becomes willing to change, the learning process becomes smoother and faster and, ultimately, much more satisfying.
People who keep their hearts and minds open and receptive, who are easy-going and harmonious, will tend to have an easier time letting go and making the shift to a new way of doing things. In their eagerness to learn, they manage to remain free of tension; to avoid excessive expectation and pride; and to operate with no (or very little) ego.
So, what’s my point? Joyfully embrace the process of learning new vocal techniques. Relax and expand your throat and then focus on singing from your heart. As you increase the resonance and heart quality in your voice, your singing and spoken words will become filled with healing vibrations and you will be a blessing to others. And because, as Paramhansa Yogananda, the great Indian master, often said*: “The instrument is blessed by that which flows through it,” you will be blessed as a result.
The more you dedicate yourself to using your voice consciously, the more Inspiration and Power will flow through you every time you sing or speak, making you a channel for a higher Consciousness.