We talk every day of our lives.  Whether engaging in an elaborate and time consuming debate, or simply ordering a cup of coffee at the local deli, we speak without thought or trepidation.  The basic act of verbalizing our thoughts, in and of itself, places upon us no anxiety. And why should it?  Speaking is as simple as walking, reading, or breathing.

And yet, somehow, the moment we stop “talking” and begin to use our voices to “sing”, something strange happens.  There’s an adjustment to our mindsets; a shift in our physicalities; a heightening in our emotional centers.  We abandon this simple, natural, effortless act of communicating, and enter a realm “performance”.  The stakes are suddenly higher; there just seems to be more on line somehow. Failure and embarrassment become imminent possibilities, and we allow our insecurities to play an active role in how we produce the sounds we make with our voices.

Now with all of that said, here’s the thing that I want you to really think about and process for yourself:  the separation between speaking and singing is something we manufacture.  It’s born from our insecurities, a direct result of our ignorance of how the voice really works.  It’s not real.

Keep this in mind:  Singing is simply an extension of speaking. Singing is MELODIC SPEAKING.  Now, that may sound simple and obvious, but when you think about it, it’s huge.

The acts of singing and speaking use the identical musculature; they use exactly the same anatomy and physiology.  Yet often times, as we perceive singing as being a wholly different act from speaking, we make all kinds of manipulated adjustments when we do it.  We tense our jaws; we tighten our breathing.  Rather than allowing the sound to flow the way we do when we speak, we PUSH IT out to sing.

But the fact is: singing is just a form of melodic speaking.  Sure, there’s more focus on melody and rhythm.  Sure, technique is more important in getting the sound you want, holding the notes you want, hitting the tones you wan to be able to hit.  But barring the additional focus of the same elements in both, they are one and the same.


When I teach this concept to an individual student or a class, I often liken it to walking in a fun and goofy way.  I’ll first walk back and forth across the studio like one normally would, and then, I’ll do silly dance, now walking in rhythm, swinging my arms in rhythm with my footsteps…sort of like the “Walk Like an Egyptian” dance.  These antics usually makes the student(s) laugh and breaks the tension, but it also makes my point beautifully:  I’m using the same arms, legs, muscles, ligaments, etc., to walk normally as I did performing the silly dance, and both acts required the equal amount of effort (which is very little).

With the dance, I took a little more care to move my arms in legs in synchronicity, and to allow them to move at a specific speed, with a specific rhythm, as if to some unheard soundtrack.  But outside of that extra focus, I really did nothing different.

The same concept applies perfectly to the perceived differences between speaking and singing.  When we speak, all we really do is slide haphazardly from one note to another; when we sing, we hit specific notes purposefully.  When we speak, we can string our words together at whatever rate we like…often speeding up and slowing down in the middle of sentences; when we sing, we adhere to a more uniform tempo and rhythm.

When we speak, we can take a breath whenever we want to, even in the middle of a sentence; when we sing, we can only breathe in certain places, and therefore need to have better focus on our breaths when we do.  When we speak, we don’t pay much attention to what our voices actually sound like; when we sing, our timbre and delivery is very important, so we need to access certain forms of resonance in a certain way to conform to our artistic visions.

All this may seem very obvious.  But sometimes, the obvious needs to be pointed out nonetheless, written or read, spoken out loud, so we can shake our heads with a smile and say “of course, it’s so simple, how could I have not thought of that?”

Spend some time thinking about this concept.  Let it marinade a bit…and then, start applying it to your singing.  Start out by taking whatever song you’re working on at the moment, and simply speak through the words out loud, without worrying about the actual melody.  Notice how your voice is sliding from one note to another without a care.  Then, sing the song at a quiet, relaxed volume, simply speaking the lyrics at the song melody’s specific notes, instead of sliding around randomly between pitches.  Don’t worry about how it sounds (Mechanics First, THEN Results, remember?); just let the words fall on the notes with the same ease they had when they were sliding between notes.

Like our first diaphragmatic breathing exercise, you should do this at a minimum frequency of 4-5 minutes at a time, twice a day.  You can certainly do it more, if you like.  You can only help yourself if you do.  But, try not to do it less than twice a day, and for no less than 4-5 minutes at a clip.  If you do that, you’ll quickly begin to develop the muscle memory necessary to begin redefining how you approach singing, both from a physical and an emotional standpoint.

Have a question about singing technique, voice training, or performance, or an article you’d like to see written? ASK DAN.

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