the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I used to pride myself on being able to manage a million things at once. I’m a MultiTasker! It’s on my resume! And lemme tell you, my mind is quick and agile and bouncy, and while this may seem useful (it can be), it is also a major complication to actually, well, getting things done.

Then I read an article a few years ago that mentioned the fact that the human mind cannot actually multitask. It can – literally – only do one thing at a time.

Multitasking means trying to perform two or more tasks concurrently, which typically leads to repeatedly switching between tasks (i.e., task switching) or leaving one task unfinished in order to do another.

(from Multicosts of Multitasking, published 2019 in Cerebrum)

This did not flow into my worldview, especially when it came to singing. 

In traditional vocal pedagogy, as well as choral singing, we are taught that in order to create an ideal sound, we must manage approximately one million tasks simultaneously. This usually leads towards some highly-charged situation like a performance or audition. Sometimes, we even find ourselves in rockier emotional territory, like sight-singing, or sight-singing in an audition, or worse yet: sight-singing on Zoom!

And to do all these things while sounding beautiful. And for God’s sake: Don’t. Mess. Up.

Oy.

That is a tall order for anyone. This is way too much pressure, expecting some perfectionistic ideal, and in my experience will result in a total letdown. 

This approach is simply ineffective. Here is why we will be let down: we are simply not able to manage it all at once.

Why? We think we can do all the things, but it’s not possible. 

The scientific study of multitasking over the past few decades has revealed important principles about the operations, and processing limitations, of our minds and brains. One critical finding to emerge is that we inflate our perceived ability to multitask: there is little correlation with our actual ability. In fact, multitasking is almost always a misnomer, as the human mind and brain lack the architecture to perform two or more tasks simultaneously… We have a hard time multitasking because of the ways that our building blocks of attention and executive control inherently work. To this end, when we attempt to multitask, we are usually switching between one task and another. The human brain has evolved to single task.

(from Multicosts of Multitasking, published 2019 in Cerebrum)

You know what this means? It means that we inhibit our functionality to execute tasks when we give ourselves too many tasks. Let’s break that down further: if you expect to do anything well and effectively, you can only do one thing at a time.

The article quoted above does not even begin to skirt the realm of emotional and spiritual wellbeing, which I believe are a fundamental aspects of our creative experience.

But I hope the point is made: in order to feel successful in our singing, we need to simplify.

How?

We must be focused on one thing in every moment. Not many things over many moments. Just One Thing in Every Moment.

And there is a way. It is so gloriously simple, you may not believe me. The medium is the most foundational aspect of our being. It is the thing that marries every aspect of our self into a unified whole. It is the thing that allows us to be present in every moment. It is the thing that bridges our human experience to the divine. It is the thing that marries our humanness to our consciousness. It is the thing that, when trusted, will open the gateway to your higher mind, increasing your intellectual, physical, and emotional capacity in any task you pursue.

It’s your breath, of course. 

But what exactly do I mean? How does that translate in real time, in the real world?

It means that when we prioritize the flow of the breath, other tasks are inadvertently removed. This is actually a good thing. Because when we are unable to take action (because you are busy breathing and your mind is not roving), we are able to create intention. 

Intention is a byproduct of inspiration and creativity. This is what flows into our practice when we are not bound up in the mind, our thoughts pinging like tennis balls. Tennis ball thoughts are constant distractions, and not only do they slow down your processing speed, they can stop your breathing. Which makes you anxious! And the very thing that you want to attain (I’m assuming beautiful and accurate singing) is very, very difficult to achieve. 

how to simplify

Let me lay out some clear points here to help guide you towards a more effective practice. I refer to this process as transforming your role in your own singing from Oompa-Loompa to Willy Wonka. Line worker to CEO. Worker bee to Queen Bee. (You get it.)

You want to be operating at a higher level. This may be very challenging at first, but you will begin to see how much more effective you will become, and this builds confidence. 

1) Determine Your Objectives

Before you enter any situation, you need to get clear about your goals. What defines success for you right now, in this situation? Be specific, reasonable, and objective. Our egos prefer us to be Absolutely Fantastic at all times, and when we fall short of this we are pretty surely let down. So dial this back, and get really clear: what do you hope to manifest or achieve in this moment?

2) Eliminate Distractions

This is a biggie, and it’s also the toughest. Your inner tennis ball machine needs to understand that it’s not time to shoot balls at you. It’s time to get quiet. This means, in my own practice and the Sacred Voice Framework, that you enter into the heart space and tap into the inner voice and self. Here is where I become embodied and whole. Not just a tennis ball machine (even a kindly one) making some sounds.

3) Become Breath Aware

Once we are still enough to notice, the awareness of the flow of your breath is the single most crucial element of our practice. I do not exaggerate. Your practice is now to maintain your awareness of your breath. You may not feel great about your breath, that’s fine. But you need to let that go. (That’s a tennis ball.) Keep the breath flowing: this is it. 

 

Your practice will transform from multitasking to activating one task: maintaining awareness of the flow of breath. You will learn how to manage all of the other things that are happening (score, notes, text, dynamics, conductor, etc.) by watching the breath, rather than darting around trying to manage them all separately yet simultaneously. Which you can’t. 

a heads-up

I will warn you of the inherent challenge: your ego will not be eager to engage in this practice. Especially when your fears are activated. This is most likely when you meet a challenging place in the music, or feel under pressure in some way, or have some emotional trauma built into your body and/or voice. Most everyone does.

But the medicine is that when you lean into the breath, when you really stick with it, you discover that you are capable of just about anything you choose. You experience personal success and realize your objectives. You will feel buoyed and supported, rather than let down and unsatisfied. 

Try it out on one little phrase, and see what happens. You don’t need a major overhaul here, just a little taste.

Speak inwardly: I am breathing. My breath is flowing. Then start to observe the breath as you go. Bring your awareness back when you stray. Go from there.

Hugs,

allison

welcome to
The Studio!

I’m Allison Mondel, Transformational Voice Coach and big-hearted seeker on a mission to help others discover their innate, brilliant Sacred Voice, and transform their singing and their lives.

IMAGE: Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

further reading

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)
the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel I used to pride myself on being able to manage a million things at once. I'm a MultiTasker! It's on my resume! And lemme tell you, my mind is quick and agile and bouncy, and while this may seem useful (it can be), it is also a major...

read more
clarify your vision for your voice
clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel  As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps. What in the heck should I do now?  However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable...

read more
great arises out of small things
great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for. Because let's be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are...

read more
clarify your vision for your voice

clarify your vision for your voice

clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

 As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps.

What in the heck should I do now? 

However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable lessons I have gained this past year is that: right action follows clarity of purpose.

Of course, we can continue to go about our business, bumping into things and figuring it all out for ourselves as we go. But it all feels a bit meandering, and not entirely satisfying. But there is a wiser course of action. It requires cultivating some inner space and time to get clear on the bigger picture.

So I have a question for you: What is the vision for your voice?

If you ask the question earnestly, and take the time and space to ruminate upon it, you will come closer seeing your vision not only clarify, but manifest in your life. 

I so sincerely believe in this exercise. It has changed the course of both my personal relationship with my voice, and my professional career in profound ways.

I encourage you to create some space for this question, especially if you, too, are hungry for the Next Steps but are not sure where to start.

The Practice

This is a journaling exercise. If you are someone that journals, you will understand the power of this practice. If you are not, or feel resistance to it, I understand. But lean into it. Clarity will pursue your hard efforts, and the results will be worth every drop of emotional sweat.

Create a quiet, safe space for yourself where you will be free of interruptions, and can meaningfully engage with these questions. Take out your favorite journal, or keep a voice journal, dedicated to the voice journey you are on.

Start — always — by mindfully connecting with your heart center, and inviting your connection with your Sacred, inner voice. (Here, my friend, is where the real wisdom lies within you.)

Allow your breath to flow. Do not concern yourself with the distraction of the quality of your breath. Just let it be your companion. 

And now, read each prompt and let the question sit in your heart. Then, let your pen flow. It will move of its own accord. Your practice is to simply allow it to move, without judgment or analysis of the response. 

When you finish with the prompts below, continue to write whatever you wish. You needn’t stop! The journal is a holding space. It serves as your own personal incubator for the spirited creativity that resides within you that needs a place to be born.

Journal Prompts

+ What is the vision for my Sacred Voice?

+ How am I called to use my voice?

+ How do I want to feel when I sing?

+ What is the music?

+ Who is my audience?

+ What am I meant to learn?

+ Do I need a guide to help me realize this vision?

+ What do I need to let go of in order to realize this vision?

+ What do I need to heal in order to realize this vision?

+ What is my healing process?

+ What action do I need to take in order to live into this vision?

 

Enjoy the process, Dear One. Your ideas are precious, and your voice is sacred. What we need out here in the world is for you to unleash this force of beauty, spirit, and personal vision. It is your gift to give, and ours to receive.

Hugs,

allison

welcome to
The Studio!

I’m Allison Mondel, Transformational Voice Coach and big-hearted seeker on a mission to help others discover their innate, brilliant Sacred Voice, and transform their singing and their lives.

IMAGE: Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

further reading

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)
the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel I used to pride myself on being able to manage a million things at once. I'm a MultiTasker! It's on my resume! And lemme tell you, my mind is quick and agile and bouncy, and while this may seem useful (it can be), it is also a major...

read more
clarify your vision for your voice
clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel  As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps. What in the heck should I do now?  However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable...

read more
great arises out of small things
great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for. Because let's be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are...

read more

great arises out of small things

great arises out of small things

great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for.

Because let’s be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are simply an illusion. 

I recall when I first heard about Eckhart’s second book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” I thought to myself: I WANT TO AWAKEN MY LIFE’S PURPOSE! 

Doesn’t everyone?

So I bought the book, I listened to him speak with Oprah (who’s a big fan), I watched him on YouTube, and I was ready for  Eckhart to tell me What I Should Do to get a quick and clear answer to my burning question. And when he told me what that was, my first thought was: THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOAD OF B.S. I HAVE EVER HEARD.

Because he wouldn’t tell me what I was supposed to do. Rather he told me that I need to inhabit the present moment and… allow

This is a quieter, more spacious kind of inner work. It is a break from the concept of implementation, and instead we encounter (and accept the value of) discovery

So it goes in our creative work, as well.

Are you hungry for answers, too? For a method? A way to fix/adjust/develop your voice? Do you want to know the purpose for your creative voice? There are four very important things to know:

1) Your voice is capable of the things that you desire. It does not require fixing. It requires a quieter, more accepting Self who is able to mindfully curate the use and care of your voice.

2) You need to provide a safe inner space for your creative unfolding. Get the Ego in check and be wise to her/him: because the first thing she/he will do is tell you that THIS IS B.S. and do everything to sabotage you from that space of inner listening.

3) You need to accept the process of the unfolding of your voice, and trust every little speck of information that is revealed to you as valid, and that your progress is marked by small steps, not great leaps.

4) You need to show up for yourself. Meaning, if you really truly desire a shift in your experience of your voice, you need to let go of your grip on what you “should” be doing or that you are not where you “should” be. But support yourself, and accept where you are, and get out of your own way of resisting the process.

This is a quote from Eckhart’s book (p. 266), in which he responds to questions from his hungry audience. I resonate with this question particularly, and am going to assume that you do, too. 

QUESTION: I am afraid of never rising above mediocrity, never daring to achieve anything great, not fulfilling my potential.

RESPONSE: The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody’s life really consists of small things. Greatness is a mental abstraction and a favorite fantasy of the ego. The paradox is that the foundation for greatness is honoring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness.

Our voice journey is brimming with small moments. Perhaps you have discovered some of those moments yourself. I hope you sense the power therein. Trust them. They are your stepping stones, your signposts, your way-showers.

The compass, however, is within your heart.

Our voice work is not to push or pull a few levers and expect answers to questions such as How Can I Not Embarrass Myself? Rather, listen and watch from a quieter place within. If those little things are the most important, then you need to be soft enough, quiet enough, spacious enough to catch them.

And accept that no matter where you are, you are on the way, and that the way is just right where you need to be.

Hugs,

allison

welcome to
The Studio!

I’m Allison Mondel, Transformational Voice Coach and big-hearted seeker on a mission to help others discover their innate, brilliant Sacred Voice, and transform their singing and their lives.

IMAGE: Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash

further reading

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)
the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel I used to pride myself on being able to manage a million things at once. I'm a MultiTasker! It's on my resume! And lemme tell you, my mind is quick and agile and bouncy, and while this may seem useful (it can be), it is also a major...

read more
clarify your vision for your voice
clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel  As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps. What in the heck should I do now?  However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable...

read more
great arises out of small things
great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for. Because let's be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are...

read more
six ways to help you love your voice

six ways to help you love your voice

six ways to help you love your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

Do you love your voice?

I don’t mean, is your voice good enough/lovely enough/functional enough to love.

But do you love your voice inherently?

I recall one time, several years ago, when I cursed God for my voice. I was mad. How could I have ended up with such a faulty, ugly, no goodnik, untrustworthy emanation of sound that was so rejectable.

Nice.

Well, the silver lining of this experience is that it has taught me to truly love and value my voice. And its innate power.

I say this not to shock or rattle, but to be clear that the journey I have been on to reclaim my voice as lovable and worthy has been one of determination, emotional grit, and surrender to the process.

Not practice more, not be awesome at singing, and not toughen up to withstand rejection.

But rather, to say to myself:

“I love my voice. And I will not allow anyone else’s opinion to sway me from this Truth.”

Because not only it is possible to love your voice, I believe it is part of our healing process into living more deeply and fully as human beings.

Six Ways to Love Your Voice

You need not have everything figured out right now to love your voice. And there are some very clear stepping stones on this path that I want to share. 

1. Know and accept that your voice is sacred

Your voice is not broken or faulty. It emanates from a divine source and manifests via your human body. When you accept this, you learn to connect with this sacred source via your heart center. You loosen the grip of the ego voice and accept the sacred voice.

2. Commit to letting go of your Ego Voice

When you accept that your voice is divine in nature, you will recognize when there is some messaging that is, well, totally off. When you hear any self-talk that is pulling you off course (which it will), know what that is. It is your Ego Voice, and this voice is not loving. It is going to sabotage you, so just be on the lookout. Better yet: make a commitment to yourself to let go of operating with this voice, and commit to your sacred voice. Then practice coming back to your center every time you fall off the voice horse!

3. Know and accept that your voice is brilliant (even if you don’t know a lot about singing)

Singing and making sound is a miraculous process of your creative impulse meeting breath energy that creates vibration. It is all managed through a delicate and intrinsically brilliant operating system that is your human body and mind. Isn’t that amazing? It is. Your voice knows how to work already. Do not get caught up in how it may not be operating at maximum. But begin to watch and become aware of what may be inhibiting this innate connection.

4. Know and accept that your voice has a presence

If and when you are ready to accept the sacred nature of your voice, you discern that it actually has a presence of its own. I experience my sacred voice as an entity, or avatar of a sacred presence. It is one of the most powerful and beautiful experiences I can describe. We are typically so muddled up that it’s difficult to discern. I will sometimes coach my students to let your sacred voice sing that for you. See what happens, and be reminded of Point #1: Know and accept that your voice is sacred!

5. Listen to what your voice needs

Your voice, and your intuition, are in constant communication with you. When we manage to lower the volume on the ego voice (by centering our awareness), your inner voice is going to give you signals of what you need right now. Maybe not pushing yourself, or over-practicing, or obsessing over the notes, or avoiding singing altogether! But rather something like: pick up this song… try watching the breath here… allow more air… let go… this is the way the music goes… When we listen to our voice, we have a more harmonious experience with our voice. The relationship shifts and we feel more appreciative, adaptive, and yes, more loving.

6. Listen to your body

When you begin to quiet the ego voice, you will be more aware of your body. Your body is your instrument, and it will reflect your state of being. This includes where you may be limiting yourself, and where you need to grow, expand, and heal. Your only job is to listen and honor the direction it may be offering you. The more you listen to your instrument, the more you honor your voice. 

I hope that you will discover and taste the sweetness of living in harmony with your voice. After dwelling in the lowest place, I feel even more appreciative of the highest, most loving, and most connected place with my voice. And I, too, will continue to follow these steps so that I may continue to build a more trusting, loving, and valued relationship with my voice. 

So just a reminder: your voice is a manifestation of the divine within you. That is worth loving at all costs.

Hugs,

 

allison

welcome to
The Studio!

I’m Allison Mondel, Transformational Voice Coach and big-hearted seeker on a mission to help others discover their innate, brilliant Sacred Voice, and transform their singing and their lives.

further reading

clarify your vision for your voice
clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel  As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps. What in the heck should I do now?  However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable...

read more
great arises out of small things
great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for. Because let's be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are...

read more
six ways to help you love your voice
six ways to help you love your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel Do you love your voice? I don't mean, is your voice good enough/lovely enough/functional enough to love. But do you love your voice inherently? I recall one time, several years ago, when I cursed God for my voice. I was mad. How...

read more

the power of mantra in our practice

the power of mantra in our practice

the power of mantra in our practice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

For the past few weeks and months, I have been preparing and planning and executing a deeply personal artistic endeavor. I direct and perform with Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music, and this season we celebrate our tenth anniversary. 

This past weekend I had the intense pleasure of singing in a public space, after months of at-home practice, teaching, and performance. It was quite a lot of pressure, overseeing a live, virtual production with audio editing, video, lighting, and stressful last-minute changes and additions. I also had to sing (and play) a musically- and vocally-rigorous program while wearing a mask! 

There was a steady drumbeat throughout the week leading up to this experience. A mantra that I repeated to myself at any moment I needed to hear it:

I am capable, calm, and joyful.

When I worked on the program, I spoke it. When I stepped into the space, I spoke it. When I stepped into place, I spoke it. 

My experience was instantaneously reflected by the intention of my words reflecting my thoughts. When I pulled out of this precious calm center, I felt myself doubt and wobble. When I stayed present and clear, I succeeded. And when I say succeeded, I mean that I experienced ease, clarity, and joyfulness. And my singing was so much easier. I felt like my voice had wings! It could do whatever I wanted! I felt like a magus, waving my magic wand and weaving a spell, dancing with the words and the music on the page. I felt connected to Source.

The practice of mantra is well-known, and has myriad connotations. In this case, my mantra was also an affirmation. It has been an intense time, and I could have easily succumbed to the pressures all around me. But the project was much too important for my big ego to get in the way and sabotage the experience and the production.

The mantra came forth in my journaling. I wrote it down on a sticky note until I memorized it. It was a phrase that I needed to hear the most, and that would serve me best at that time. 

Your thoughts and words have incredible power. We take this for granted, and we are quite unaware at most times of how we fashion our thoughts. Your singing is the perfect example.

Do you wish to feel in control? Or out of control? Able? Or unable? Clear? Or confused? Connected? Or disconnected?

You drive the thought car. Find your words. Write them down. Repeat them. 

I am _____________, _____________, and _____________.

Watch yourself succeed. (I mean it.)

Hugs,

allison

 

IMAGE: Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash.

welcome to
The Studio!

I’m Allison Mondel, Transformational Voice Coach and big-hearted seeker on a mission to help others discover their innate, brilliant Sacred Voice, and transform their singing and their lives.

further reading

the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)
the one thing to do to succeed (in singing)

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel I used to pride myself on being able to manage a million things at once. I'm a MultiTasker! It's on my resume! And lemme tell you, my mind is quick and agile and bouncy, and while this may seem useful (it can be), it is also a major...

read more
clarify your vision for your voice
clarify your vision for your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel  As we have safely landed on the shores of 2021, I have found myself wanting and hungry for the Next Steps. What in the heck should I do now?  However, I know now that I am getting ahead of myself. Because one of the most valuable...

read more
great arises out of small things
great arises out of small things

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel This post could also be entitled: The most unhelpful advice your Ego could ask for. Because let's be honest: we all want Great Things right now. And according to Eckhart Tolle, a remarkable spiritual teacher, the great things are...

read more