Thursday afternoon, I interview singer and vocal coach Ariella of AriellaApproach.com.
In our culture where “American Idol” and “Glee” set the standard for good singing, many of us forget that we too can sing. We have been silenced in our past by a teacher, sibling, friend, peer, or even a parent who at some memorable point in our lives said:
-”Stop singing! You’ll break glass.”
-”You have a terrible voice.”
-”Keep your day job.”
-”You’re tone deaf!”
Regardless of the words (and all they are, are words), the message crushes our ego, and we then gain a negative feeling in association with our singing, especially in front of other people. Without hesitation we convince ourselves that our voice is bad and that this is the truth.
From this moment forth, we recite the mantra:
“I can’t sing.”
As an infant I’d wake at midnight and coo while my grandmother would proclaim, “Club Ariella’s open.” My other grandmother would sing as she drove, and from a car seat in the back, my Tinkerbell voice would repeat her melodic lines, verbatim. This confirmed early in my life that I love to play with my voice.
…It is no surprise that in college I chose to major in Vocal Performance. I attended a school with a very classical voice program. It was challenging to constantly be compared to women in my program who were practically Wagnerian sopranos (women with huge operatic voices), while my voice had a clear, softer bell-like tone. One of my university professors – though I admired her greatly – asked me to use my voice in a way that did not feel good; she wanted a bigger sound than I could produce at that point in my life. It was then that I learned to advocate for my voice, my singing style and myself, remembering that I had been wisely advised by my High School choir director that my voice would not develop to its fullest potential until my 30’s. I knew that I loved to sing. I knew that my studies were helping me. But my vision of the future did not meld with what my teachers wanted for me. Fortuitously a new door opened that brought me to Ghana, West Africa to study the language, culture and music with a renown Ethnomusicologist.