VOCAL PRESENCE ( ONLINE LESSONS ) BOSTON
With Alejandro, I'm learning to open and use my energy through voice. Alejandro is a thoughtful, experienced, magical teacher. He helped me discover new sources of energy and ways of using that are already changing my life. Any communication, especially professional communication, has become more powerful and meaningful thanks to our classes. These discoveries have already caused a profound change in me that is unfolding every day, steering my life on a more rewarding path. I see that our classes have made me stronger, more confident, and clearer to others. The honest feedback, easy to grasp tools, and effective practices that Alejandro generously shares are an invaluable find for anyone on a journey of growth looking for ways to express, focus and direct their energy to the outside world.
VOICE, VOCAL PRESENCE ( ONLINE LESSONS ) SACRAMENTO, CA
I hadn’t intended to hire a voice coach. A friend of mine posted to facebook, “folks, for those of you on zoom calls all the time, I've found the most stunning voice coach ever - he's been training actors and singers. DM for the connection.”
I was working with some clients over Zoom and had never really liked my voice so I decided to give it a shot. When I finally connected with Alejandro, I balked a bit at the cost. I felt a bit guilty to spend so much money on myself and for something without a clear return on investment. However, in spite of my doubt, I decided to schedule 5 lessons and see where it would go.
Prior to the first lesson, I imagined myself singing scales and practicing singing on key. To my surprise, our first lesson focused on discovering my natural sounds. Making a surprised “oo,” and admiring beauty with an “aah.” This is not at all what I expected.
“Don’t imitate my voice.” I would hear again and again. “That is not your voice.”
“There it is, that’s your voice.”
“Listen to that sound.”
After a few sessions, my confidence began to build. By the end of each class, I could feel a difference. “Go back and watch this lesson again and listen to how good you sound.”
Went back to listen to the recording. I would start at the beginning of the lesson and hear myself. What I sounded like was nothing like what I heard in my head. I sounded horrible. Like someone with a speech impediment signing into a pillow. I couldn’t stand to listen to more than 5 minutes. I never made it to the end of the recording to get to the good part. Was I wasting my money. In my lessons, Alejandro would tell me that my voice has a beautiful sound. I certainly wasn’t hearing it. I began to doubt. I wonder if this is something that all teachers tell their students so they keep coming back. I imagined myself as Florence Foster Jenkins.
“Don’t judge yourself” he told me after I shared how awful I sound and that wondering why I should bother persisting. This is a waste of time and money I began telling myself. Yet, each time it came to pay for the next set of sessions, I did. Something inside of me driving me to continue.
It probably wasn’t until about the 13 lesson that I finally had a breakthrough. My whole life, I’d imagined that I was a baritone and would sing deep songs. Perhaps my hearing loss, which dampens higher frequencies, contributed to enjoying more the deeper sounds and vibrations in my body. I finally let go of this idea that I needed to have a deep voice and sang imagining myself as a young choirboy. The sound was finally clear, open, and easy. As I sang, I could feel my whole head vibrating and even a bit of pain in my ears. It felt like the vibration might actually be reducing the tension that has stiffened since birth.
Indeed, I was discovering that change is possible. I was uncovering my sound, my voice. No longer imitating someone else.
I was super excited for the next class. Full of confidence, I began to sing, imagining that I finally got it and would sound amazing. It was gone. I’d lost it. “It won’t stay, you will fall back into old habits. It happens to everyone.”
“Don’t judge yourself.” One phrase at a time. Offering advice and something new to try. A little be better, a little more open, a little more focused, vowels a little more connected.
I would start to sing a phrase and then stop myself half way through. “Don’t judge yourself. Finish the phrase.” I began to see how active my mind has been while I’m singing. The phrase would literally fall flat under the weight of my mind’s judgment.
I began to see this same action in other areas of my life. Unfinished letters to friends and family because I didn’t know what to say next. Unfinished projects because they weren’t going well and didn’t look right. Procrastinated work projects that are days late and only need 30 minutes of work to finish.
I began to see it in my relationships too. Small judgmental comments to my wife and stepdaughter. I was noticing that they were interacting with me less and frequently on edge and defensive. I’d thought it was all them, but started noticing that my “helpful” comment about how to do something better was actually an implied judgment that there was something wrong with them. This subtle orientation of judgment was not only strangling my voice but also my relationships and my whole life.
With this in mind Alejandro changed up our process. I began recording myself and playing the recording in the session. Upon hearing the recorded phrase, I would cringe. “Don’t judge yourself. You have your tools. What do you notice?” I did my best to listen and hear what I could do to make it a bit better. “What suggestion would you make? OK. Do that.” Another recording. We listen. I notice it is slightly better. My advice to myself worked. We repeat this, a bit better, and again, and again.
Learning to offer myself constructive criticism rather than wallow in shame and self depreciation feels foreign to me. I feel gratitude for this teacher, showing me how to both love myself and still show ways that I can grow and improve.
Over the past weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve become less patient with judgmental voices both in and outside of my head. When something doesn’t go as expected at work, I no longer assume I did something wrong.
I’m noticing changes in my partner has I refrain from judgment and my “helpful” fixes. We enjoy longer conversations with fewer conflicts.