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Fear is the Main Enemy of the Singer

Fear is the great enemy of the human heart, the main obstacle to accomplishment. It is no more of a handicap to the student of singing than to the student of any other form of endeavor, but since it is only the students of singing with whom we have to do, it is their difficulties that concern us.

At the very beginning fear plays its part in the vocal studio, since almost all students have heard so much about the difficulties of vocal technic and the great dangers of injury to the voice from misuse, that they hardly dare do anything for fear of doing something wrong. Of course, a certain caution in approaching any new thing is quite proper, but this fear that most students have of their voices is altogether hurtful to their studies.

The first thing you ought to get clearly into your head is that when you sing you are doing something which nature intended you to do and for which she specially constructed your vocal mechanism. Anybody who can speak with an ordinary human voice has the mechanism with which to sing. It goes without saying that some are much more generously gifted by nature than others, but if you can talk you also can sing, at least as far as the physical mechanism is concerned. Whether or not you will ever sing well depends on a great many different considerations—aptitude for music, sensitiveness to tone, good health, willingness to work and many other things besides. But at least it is a comfort and ought to be an encouragement to know that you have the apparatus.

Singing is action with brain and voice coordinating to produce the tones of beauty and power. Nobody ever learned to sing without making any number of mistakes, producing bad tones and getting into all sorts of trouble. But those who have the courage to try, gradually begin to catch the hang of how the thing is done and if they have minds to think with, get good instruction and are willing to work they learn. Those who are fearful, afraid of making poor tones, of hurting their throats and doing other things they ought not to do are very likely not to have anything to show for their efforts save a lot of receipted bills and unrealized ambitions.

People seem to forget the restorative vigor of nature. It is astonishing with the normal healthy individual how rapidly nature can remedy the inevitable ills to which we are all subject. Of course, if you are weak and sickly it is hard luck and about your only chance for success in this life, whether as a singer or in any other department of activity, will depend on your building yourself up into health and strength. But if you are a normal human being don’t bother yourself too much about the extreme delicacy of the voice. If you learn to use it reasonably well it will stand up under a tremendous amount of hard work.

Nature constructed the vocal chords out of the toughest material she knew how to manufacture and she did a mighty good job. The voice is very sensitive to misuse, just as the eye is very sensitive to the presence of any foreign substance such as a cinder, which is one way she has of protecting sensitive parts of the mechanism. If you misuse your voice she will tell you so quickly and in no uncertain terms. Then if you have any wits you will find out what the matter is, get it corrected and go on your way rejoicing.

Nine times out of ten when young singers complain about having sensitive throats there is nothing really the matter with the throat itself, but it is nature trying to inform the individual that the throat is not being properly used. People mollycoddle themselves, thinking that they have weak throats and all sorts of ills when the truth is merely that they don’t know how to use them properly. This cautious, timid manner of singing, which is so common among young students is frequently worse in its effect on the voice than the most reckless shouting. You can usually prove to the shouter that he is very foolish and since he has the courage to do things it is often possible to turn his energy into the right channels. But the timid one dares do nothing for fear of injury and the first thing he knows his whole vocal apparatus has become as flabby and useless as his brain and is good for nothing.

Have confidence in nature and dare to do what you think right. Singing is action. Let there be courage of mind as there is strength of body. There is no place for cowards in the singing world.

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