Making a recording is always interesting. In fact, I believe I began a blog post with that exact sentence about a year and a half ago when I did my last recording. There are good and bad things about recording – but most of all, it proves to you that what you think about your voice is not what it actually is.
This time around, I entered the recording process tired and a little bit apprehensive about how my voice sounded. I am going through a time of learning right now, which means that the way I sing is being taken apart and will be reconstructed into a better technique. Not necessarily the best time to make a recording, but sometimes you can’t predict a month in advance if your recording day will be a good day or not.
Going into the process, I was expecting to hear the recording and hear a completely different voice from my last recording. After all, I have changed voice teachers, coaches, schools, cities… What a silly expectation. The voice I heard is still MY voice. And I think the voice I hear on recordings of myself in 2030 will still be my voice.
Accepting my voice as it is is very hard for me. It may be simply that I listen to too much Kathleen Battle, but I never feel like my voice is quite beautiful enough to do justice to the repertoire I have chosen. This insecurity translates into a fixation on how my voice sounds, and a failure to focus on action, or what I can actually change about the way that I am singing. After all, I can’t change the sound of my voice, but I can broaden the resources I draw on to interpret a piece, I can make sure I know the translation and implications of the poetry or libretto, and I can let go of my insecurities in order to free up my fast passages, my high notes, and my facial expression. In fact, there are so many things I can change, it seems silly to fixate on the only thing I can’t change – my instrument. Technique is not about learning tricks to cover up how your voice actually sounds – it is about learning how to strip away all the tension and affectation in order to reveal your whole voice, just as it is.