I was teaching my sister to sing yesterday.

Nothing fancy; just two girls with a beautiful song and an upright piano.

As I walked her through how I produce sounds (and demonstrated examples), she told me three things:

  1. What I was saying doesn’t make sense (and is impossible to perform)
  2. She could understand what I was communicating, somehow (thank goodness)
  3. I was doing exactly what I was expressing (still got a long way to go, honestly!)

The thing, I’ve realized, is it’s all in your mind.

Many think: “I need to hit this note by forcing air through my throat and trying to get the right pitch.”

I told my sister: “Drink your voice in. You’re not creating the sound. The sound already exists outside of you. Woo that note with your mind, let it resonate within your body, and share that beauty with those around you through song.”

The phrase “drink your voice in” means exactly what it says–and yet it doesn’t. Physically inhaling doesn’t create beautiful sounds.

But inhaling the voice does.

And that, my friend, is where conceptual thinking trumps the body.

By inhaling the voice, your mind tricks the mouth, throat, and diaphragm into thinking they simply need to be strong and supple to welcome and sustain the sound, (with good posture and well-trained breathing control supporting and providing power), instead of having to force a note to materialize from vibrating vocal cords.

It’s like how having perfect pitch is ultimately a measure of how decisively and concretely you can form the sense of a single pitch in your head. Once you master your mind, your body naturally produces that exact sound. (No, I don’t have perfect pitch. Yet.)

Maria Callas once said that singing is like the voice making love with the body. I suspect you’d concur once you’ve mastered this.

The second you think you’re singing is the moment you cease to sing.

And one more thing: This idea transcends singing.

I leave you, my friend, to connect this to whatever you create, work with, or do out of the love of the thing. There’s power, excitement, and deep, humbling satisfaction to be found when your mind transcends itself in the creation of something beautiful and truthful.

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