I've realized something that is quite disturbing about some singers. In the survey we sent last month, many of you said that you did not believe you had talent and you even went on to explain how you hate your voice. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I didn't buy it for a minute! And now I have discovered something even more confusing. Many singers seem to "fish for compliments" when on the one hand they criticize their own voices and on the other post clips of their singing on the web for the world to hear. If they truly hated their voice, they'd never put it out there to be heard - would they?

I get questions all the time about how to improve this or that aspect of a singer's voice. I respond immediately outlining in detail what to do to make the desired change, and as immediately, get a return note asking me the same question again as if my first response wasn't even read. For example, this week I got this question:

"Dear Chrys, Here is my clip. How can I stop from running our of breath all the time?"

I responded with all of the exercises to do to cure this problem, and even provided sound files for the student to practice with. Her note came back,

"Okay, but I keep running out of air.
Can you hear on ["name of song"] how my voice trails off at the end of the first line?
I hate that! Doesn't that sound awful?"

Okay, folks, I have figured you out! Your apparent thirst for answers may be just a way to get a different response than the one you got. I wonder, for example, if my response to this singer had been,

"Well, I think it sounded fabulous just the way it was, but if you're concerned about running out of air, you can do some deep breathing prior to performing. That always helps",

whether or not I would get a note back with the same question. (My apologies, singers. I always tell the truth - whether or not it's what one wants to hear.) Likewise, I see students writing to all the Vocal Message Boards asking the same questions over and over again, as if on a quest to get a certain response, usually one of praise and admiration.

It comes from insecurity and needing strokes. And the self-criticism, indeed sometimes, outright self-loathing is an attempt to garner some flattering remark from a coach so that the singer can feel good about continuing on the path to fame and fortune.

I have come to view self-criticism as a dangerous and harmful trait that can derail your vocal pursuits, and I implore each and every one of you to look inside and see if you could be doing this to yourself. There's a far cry between self-criticism and objective self-evaluation. The key is to be HONEST and OBJECTIVE about your work, seeking to improve it but without beating yourself up about it, or manipulating others to disagree with your self-effacement. Don't seek approval from others! Just DO your art and put it out there, WITHOUT SELF- JUDGMENTS!!

Martha Graham, a famous dancer and choreographer in the early 20th century once received a letter from a student, Agnes DeMille, a dancer and choreographer herself, who was in the middle of choreographing a production of "Oklahoma" for the Broadway stage. Agnes wrote that she was completely and utterly frustrated and dissatisfied with her results thus far, and she complained about her lack of talent, comparing it to other better dancers. This was Martha Graham's wise reply:

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others".

Author's Bio: 

Chrys Page is the founder and Director of Sing Your Life Enterprises. A singer, entertainer and vocal coach for 30+ years, Chrys has performed in venues from New York to LA, from Toronto to Mexico City, and boasts of having taught over 500 students.

Chrys started out in New York City singing with college bands, had her own radio show in Ithaca, NY before going on the road with big bands like Les and Larry Elgart, Sy Zentner, and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra with Frank Sinatra Jr. But not before acquiring her degrees in Vocal Performance and Education.

She currently sings and teaches in Corpus Christi, TX.

A note from Chrys, the Voiceguru:

"I've been singing for a living since 1961, and while I still perform at a variety of venues throughout the year, I have spent most of the last 30 years teaching, coaching, and otherwise mentoring others on how to fulfill their dreams of being a singer. My students range in age from 15 - 70. The young students learn discipline and good habits for keeping their voices strong and powerful forever, and the older ones are rediscovering their dreams of youth by learning techniques that have revitalized their voices and their confidence! I am absolutely sure that I can teach anyone, yes anyone how to sing and even more than that, become the singer they have always dreamed of being!