That time I sang for President Obama

That time I sang for President Obama

That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I remember that time like it was yesterday: it was a frigidly cold January day, and I was equal parts Ready-To-Kill-It and Scared-To-Freaking-Death.

For years I had taught singing at Washington National Cathedral, occasionally singing here and there as needed. I had been asked by my boss to contribute some chant by Hildegard von Bingen (my muse) as part of the National Prayer Service, an event held the day after the Presidential Inauguration here in the U.S.

Um, of course?

So there I was, after a lifetime of waiting in anticipation, ready to begin the service, managing the Secret Service checkpoints (which made trips to the ladies room a nightmare 😭), the freezing cold conditions, the feeling that my cassock/ hairstyle/ relative height made me feel like a small, little girl, and this nagging terror that using my tuning fork to get my first pitch could possibly be construed as some kind of weapon by the Secret Service Agent to my immediate left.

At last, I finally step up to the podium to deliver my message. Unaccompanied. Tuning fork anxiety. Naked voice. Regrettable choice of hair clip. Awkward church clothing. People watching. Don’t look nervous, keep your head up. Dear GOD do not wet yourself right now because you actually could.

My inner world was utter chaos

So thank goodness, then, when I heard this inner voice, clear as day:

Just. Breathe.

I gripped the sides of my podium stand, and let a gush of air rush into my body, then felt myself surge with in-the-momentness and then, well, I let ‘er rip.

Here is what I sang:

Nunc gaudeant materna viscera Ecclesie,
quia in superna simphonia filii eius
in sinum suum collocati sunt.

(Now let the maternal heart of the Church rejoice,
for in celestial harmony her children
are gathered into her bosom.)

In hindsight, I know why this experience was so overwhelming: it was a power surge like none I had ever experienced before. It was truly a moment in which I recognized the presence and power of the divine, sacred feminine moving through me.

And the lesson is clear: you must surrender to the power of your very own voice.

Your voice is married to a source of great power and divinity. My friend, that is a Big Deal. It means that if you are not clear or sure or wise to it, you can feel completely overwhelmed and underwater.

In that moment of power, standing on a podium, for (literally) the world and the most “important” person in the world to hear, I became the channel of an incantation of a divine, healing, feminine prayer to gather us back into whole and right relationship with ourselves and the planet.

We are in the midst of an awakening to the sacred feminine, and I see this directly in the way we use our voice. Indeed, it is my ardent prayer that we, as singers, relieve ourselves of the suffering wrought upon us by subscribing the outdated paradigm of vocal technique that cultivates a perfectionistic ideal of the voice.

Let’s evolve.

More than any skill or technique I exercised on that podium was the power of the act of surrender of my own ego so that my voice could be a conduit of the prayer. This is not boastful, this is fact.

The power is the thing.

If you notice any resistance to your own voice, know what that is. There is a resistance to your very own freaking power. Say this prayer:

I release the resistance to my own power, and allow my voice to flow through me with ease and grace. I embrace the message that moves through me for my own healing, and the healing of the world.

Let us envision a way forward with our voice that is free from strife, grief, longing, and worry. Let us step into a way that is supportive, nurturing, healing, freeing, soulful, and, oh yes… POWERFUL. 🔥

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

How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
how to really change your voice
how to really change your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more

how to really change your voice

how to really change your voice

how to really change your voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

How long does it take to change your voice?

We are conditioned to think of this process in terms of hours, days, weeks, months, and years. There is an element of playing the long game when we envision the process of unfolding that is our voice journey. This is absolutely unavoidable, and when embraced as a concept, can be the capstone project of life’s great journey.

But there is another kind of change that can happen instantaneously. The kind of change that we do not expect. Change that makes us sit up and say, “my voice is different. Mm, that’s wonderful.”

We all have some aspect of our voice (or laundry list of issues) that we would like to improve, remove, or transform. My question to you: how much time are you willing to co-exist with stress, potential suffering, and that existential “oh, well” that has become how you view your singing?

Hours, days, weeks, months, years?

When placed in this kind of frame, this doesn’t even make sense! Because the issues we confront in our singing practice seem timeless, don’t they? They will always be here, right?

My voice is getting older, I will never feel good about it again.

My voice is stuck, I guess that’s the way it is.

My voice is faulty, I will never be able to have control.

NO. That inner “oh, well, I guess this is the way it is” is a mask for what I view as an intense friction between you and your voice.

Friction is uncomfortable. It builds heat slowly, until one day it becomes unbearable, you cannot avoid it, and you are at your wit’s end. But somehow we humans have managed how to stay at our wit’s end for a very long time, indeed.

But you are enabled with a choice: are you willing to live with this friction for an indefinite period of time, or are you willing to change?

Are you willing to default to suffering for hours, days, weeks, months, years with this numbing “oh well,” or are you willing to release the friction in one, single second of a moment?

The preferred answer is obvious. But dear Lord, how?

Once you muster the will to change, there is nothing more that you need to do except to state your new intention:

“I no longer want to live with _______. I am ready to change how I feel about my _______.”

That’s it. But what happens then?

What happens is the sweet unfolding of your new voice timeline. A proverbial fork in the road, where the suffering is not met with more suffering in a steady downgrade, but with clarity, ah-has, inner guidance, and a knowing that you are on the Right Track.

Every choice I have made to release my limited beliefs about my voice has resulted in nothing short of a million mini-miracles unfolding before me. Importantly, when I rub up against some new, unexplored friction (which there always is!), I know how to release it because I have a template.

The inner resistance to my expansion and the healing of my voice becomes easier to manage and overcome. I recognize the patterns, and I have learned to trust the outcome.

The only friction that remains is that which you feel when your ego voice reminds you that this should be harder… you should be more uncomfortable… you can wait it out… it’s not that bad… who are you to want more, you are not that good anyway… you don’t have enough skills… just give up trying… 

You do not have to suffer on account of your voice, my friend. But you must be willing to overcome the volume of the ego voice, to relieve the burn of that invisible, sneaky, sweet-talking psychic friction, and to demand better for yourself.

And that, my friend, is how you heal. It is through the choices you make, and the intentions you state, that initiate that transformation to feeling better and to changing your voice.

I will warn you: there is no confetti, no trumpets, no unfolding scrolls of proclamation, no noisy celebrations for you. Just the profound beat of your own heart that pounds with the knowing that you made the right choice.

And then you feel different. You have changed. And your voice feels different. It has changed.

And then you say, “mm, that’s wonderful.”

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

That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
healing from voice rejection

healing from voice rejection

healing from voice rejection

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I’ll never forget the time when this man laughed in my face when I was just about to sing.

Or looked down at his desk in disappointment after I had just started to sing.

Or spent 45 minutes telling me why I wasn’t up for the job. And then asked his personal assistant to further the argument as to what was wrong with my voice.

Or told me why my best friend was better for the role. 

Or requested that I sit out a on a 19-voice piece, of which I was the 20th participant on the gig, left to pace around the nave of a massive cathedral, emptied of its chairs, vainly fighting back the tears of shame that wanted to spill forth from my eyes like raging torrents.

Voice rejection is just about the Worst. Thing. Ever.

For me, the sting of these events is worse than the transgressions of friends and lovers. This is my voice we are talking about: the thing that matters most to me.

How about you?

It is clear that our voice is a reflection of our self. Indeed it is an amplification of our self. It makes perfect sense that the ego will take an event such as a rejection, and draft its own self-destructive tract of shame and victimhood to be replayed over and over again, until we are convinced that it’s real.

Now, let’s set the record straight: it is perfectly, utterly normal for someone to not receive a job, or land a role, or “win” an audition. This is standard practice, akin to any application process. 

But after a while, my ego could not distinguish a standard rejection, or piece of critical feedback, from a rejection of my entire self.

Why not?

Because I had been shamed while being rejected.

Which cemented my inner terror of opening my mouth in front of anyone in case they were listening, for fear that I would be thrown out of the room, or outed in some way for being a totally fake singer!

This is, as they say, not cool. I am not cool with this state of being. There must be a better way, right?

I am not able to change things now. I am not able to single-handedly dismantle the broken audition process, or the patriarchy, or insist that someone exercise some decent manners when they have something unpleasant to say. This would be great! 

But it’s not a better way. The better, wiser way is to change my perception of the events that have formed this distorted perception of myself and my voice. Am I a terrible, worthless person because someone laughed in my face? Of course not. Is that a completely inappropriate action for a person hearing an audition? Um, yes.

But we cannot miss the larger point.

I believe that the events that I have experienced – the very worst, the most cringeworthy – confirm for me that I must fiercely believe in the value of my voice. Indeed, I accept that these experiences have crucial lessons embedded in them, if only I have the capacity to recognize their alchemical potential for healing and wholeness.

Do they tell me that I should work harder? Or prepare more? Or improve my technique? Or reconsider my repertoire? Or toughen up? Or learn to be emotionally bulletproof? Or just deal with it and move on because it’s normal??

Maybe. All helpful points.

I could also choose to ditch the whole singing thing because it’s just too, too painful. Which I have considered, and I know some who have chosen this path.

But I put this to you: 

How can we turn rejection into gold?

We have to see the truth: our soul voice is longing to be free to express itself here, in the world, on planet Earth.

When we experience a rejection, our ego will desperately try to protect us, and say, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN BECAUSE IT WAS AWFUL.”

But the soul says:

“You must step into your own individuality. You must love me. You must accept me. You must confront and acknowledge your very own sacredness. You must honor your voice.”

You can tell which voice is louder. But the softer voice will make you weep with inner joy and recognition because that’s what this singing business is all about: the expression of your inner sacredness.

We are part of something much bigger and grander than one small moment in time. But those painful, unpleasant moments are the triggers for deepening our love and acceptance of our Self.

I have become a fierce warrior of loving and valuing my own voice. Believe me, it drives me crazy trying, and sometimes I am so incredibly frustrated I have to laugh in exasperation.

My voice is not perfect. It is freaking challenging. But it is lovable, because I am lovable. And because I believe in the capacity of my voice to express my inmost desires, even if it sounds like a wobbly mess.

I have no idea if I could even “win” an audition any more, because it has been so long since I’ve even tried. But my voice will find its way into the world.

Accept that your voice will find its way into the world, too. Indeed, I believe your soul longs for it.

But first, acknowledge the moments that set you off course. Own them, and be free of them.

I invite you to write them here, put them down: let them go.

I will hold your hand, and we will walk together in freedom. We will use our voices to uplift the world, to heal ourselves, and expand into our own sacredness.

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 Sharosh Rajasekher on Unsplash

further reading

That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more

replace strife with wonder

replace strife with wonder

replace strife with wonder

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

When I was in graduate school, a small but stout music conservatory, I had to take one of the most lethal classes: Graduate Seminar. Required for all grad students, it was a hodge-podge of this and that, overseen by the conservatory’s director. 

I was in there with every manner of student, but it was terribly lonely. I had no solidarity buddies from the Early Music department, and anytime we stepped out of talking about performance (like learning Schenkerian analysis or whatever) I was lost. I am pretty sure I cried.

Except every once in a while, we had a guest speaker: Benjamin Zander, a motivational speaker who would blow off all of our grumpy, overwhelmed, self-conscious, conservative conservatory tops. He would say things like, “Sit in the front row of your life!” and I would sit there and think, “yes, I will!” and then look around at the class and wonder, “is this amazing to everyone else, too? What the hell is going on right now? Is it safe to participate with joy and show that this is utterly life-changing?” 

Zander introduced me to the art of The Reframe. I have fairly described myself as a myopic musician. I was not evolved or self-aware enough at that time to consider the potential of this perspective and his excellent advice. But I have never forgotten.

I recall him telling a parable about some Student who kept Messing Up. Over and over and over again, the same bloody mistake: a rut. You know that student, right? It’s you and me. What is our typical response?

I am so stupid! I suck! What’s wrong with me? I am never going to get it! Duh, I should know better! Etc, etc.

Zander suggested a reframe. Rather than, “Oh shit, I did it again, why not… how fascinating?” (I’m pretty sure that is word for word, even after twenty years!)

This was an indelible moment for me. It has shaped my journey of personal growth and completely altered the path of my voice practice. 

Dear One: you are going to make mistakes. You are going to make some clunkers. You are going to look funny. You are going to kick yourself. I’m sorry. I do it, too. But be wise about it. Mistakes are not a character flaw: they are an essential element of our humanity. But let them teach you.

What happens when you reframe your mistakes into valuable lessons?

I know it is much easier to berate yourself, but that will not serve you in any way, whatsoever. So the next time you have to, say, record yourself (which I did the other day: good times!), and you keep seeing or hearing that thing that is bothering you, try to absorb it rather than reject it.

I keep doing that Thing I don’t want to do. How fascinating!

Here is the jewel of understanding: when you bring an unconscious pattern to light, you evolve. You stop making the damn mistake. It is only possible to bring the unconscious to light when we take the timeand have the willingnessto understand our patterns.

Mr. Zander’s appearance those dreary mornings in seminar were potentially more impactful than any musical training I received at school. His ideas gave me an understanding that it is not simply the content of what we offer as musicians, but it is about our wholeness as beings who vessel that content. But we are all simply too blinded by our faults to see the true power and potency of what we do. 

So please, try to gain some perspective. With your singing, at least! 

The next time you make a bloop (which you will), or are disappointed with your performance (which you will), or pull back in fear (which you will), STOP the critique. Assess the situation. Here is my personal reframe of Mr. Zander’s question:

What is really going on here?

I swear it will help. I probably ask myself this question ten times per day. It is honestly harder to ask when I sing, but that, to me, is the most important time.

Because I recognize that my mistakes are borne of my fears. And when I can shed light on my fears (even teensy ones), they are transformed into feedback. Feedback that can help me change my habits and undo those tendencies that irk me the most and hold me back. Feedback that can help me heal.

Try reframing in your practice. Remove the Strife, and replace it with Wonder. It works. You will feel better and sing better. You will show up with greater authenticity and self-regard. You will become that vessel of something that is much greater than we can possibly conceive.

You just have to get out of the way first.

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

That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more

overcoming the singing squelch

overcoming the singing squelch

overcoming the singing squelch

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

“We are meant to shine as children do.” – Mariann Williamson

When do singers lose our joy of singing? When we do we become fearful of being heard? When do we become terrified of making mistakes?

Last year I had the eye-opening experience of sitting on a panel with other musicians at Towson University, home to an enormous department of voice majors. I was there to speak about careers in ensemble music, and it was a truly wonderful, enriching event. 

I noticed something, sitting on the stage, looking into the student’s faces. As I began to speak about my own singing journey, about having a hard time with my singing, but also how I gained a clarity of  purpose and moved past my blocks, hands began to shoot up to ask me questions. I detected a real hunger for answers: answers that helped them make sense of why this singing gig is freaking hard, and how can they overcome it. After the event wrapped up, students began to line up en masse to chat with me, in the hopes of having their questions answered. They were having a hard time.

I was heartened to help. I was also heartbroken.

The other day I was tagged on a Facebook post: a colleague was asking other music teachers about how to get students to practice more effectively. Oy, a veritable Pandora’s Box for me, having worked with a million young students (and being one myself), and the invariable battle with urging students to practice. 

Why do students resist practice? They are afraid. When you are afraid of constantly making mistakes and facing your worst insecurities–on a daily schedule–this can be torture. It can also begin the undoing of joyful music-making. Of loving music. Of loving singing. Of being heard.

I came across another post of a client of mine, we worked together only once. She recorded herself singing a sweet folk tune, it was beautiful to read her post and witness her step up courageously to her community, embracing her fears and being honest about her singing gremlins.

When we met, she was very quiet. She told me bits of her story, thoughtfully took in everything in as I spoke and offered my guidance, and then when she started singing I almost fell off my seat. This person had a formidable talent, skills, all the “goods.” Why was she so fearful?

I scanned the comments of her brave post. I read the reactions of other singer friends, presumably also with formidable talents, who were struggling to find their own voice again after they finished their undergrad. One even confessed that she had stopped singing altogether. 

My heart broke again.

I have met many people who have struggled with finding their voice after school. Me, too. 

Traditional voice training is a system that means to develop a singer’s basic functionality in order to maximize the resonant potential of their sound. This means buffing out imperfections and bloops that stand in the way.

For some people, that is no big deal (or at least, it would seem so). 

For others, it is a life-threatening process. I am not exaggerating. Especially if you are highly-sensitive, which is probably a LOT of singers. 

Why would someone stop singing after learning how to sing? After stepping into an educational experience that is meant to hold them up and develop their skills and expose them to the inherent beauty of fine musical literature. Why do we run for the hills? What causes us to become so squelched?

I believe that the means by which we have been taught to improve our singing are the very same used to sabotage our singing. 

I witnessed this in my studio over many years, as every trap we fell into, every disgusted moment we have with ourselves is all connected back to one thing: thinking our singing

Let’s get out of this loop.

For some singers, this method is volatile and inefficient, and I will be frank: it instills fear and shame.

Here is the thing: your voice is not broken. It is sacred. You will not be told this in traditional music training, I’m sorry to say.

I have been told over and over in every lesson about how to fix my vocal problems, since I was in the ninth grade. A gal begins to think that her voice is broken, you know? She can even become ashamed of her voice, and herself. That is a lot to manage emotionally, especially for young people who are not equipped with the emotional tools to manage those big emotions. Especially for a real squishy emotional absorbent softie, like myself. Shame is a big deal, and the fear is real. No wonder we run away from our fears and shut down our voice.

My friend, you are not in need of fixing. You are, however, in need of healing. 

The first thing to do, right now, is acknowledge the sacred nature of your voice. Unfortunately, the voice of the mind is much, much louder. So you need to be a little bit quiet in order to begin this process.

Start by inviting the connection. It’s as simple as anything and anyone can do it.

Connect with your heart center. 

Say these words: “I call forth my Sacred Voice.” And 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.

further reading

That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
why your voice gets stuck

why your voice gets stuck

why your voice gets stuck

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel

I was up against a wall. Literally. My tongue was valiantly trying to poke out of my open mouth to formulate some semblance of an “ah” vowel whilst singing a downward scale. 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. The teacher was attempting to have my tongue stay politely in place when I sang anything. This seemed to me rather extreme and frankly, impossible.

What she could not sense was the hot shame smeared on my face because I was so clearly incapable of this task.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong: I learned how to sing a downward scale on an “ah” vowel. But not in the way you think. And it took me roughly 20 years to suss it out. 

If only she could have said, “Allison, try not to overthink it. You are having difficulty connecting with your breath. Can you, like, inhale?”

Well, I couldn’t inhale OR exhale well or properly. My voice gremlins were running amuck, and I was debilitated by fear. I lost control and trust of my voice. I was, quite literally, stuck. 

Why?

The ego voice disrupts our connection with the flow of breath.

The Sacred Voice is inherently linked to the flow of breath. This inner voice, your sacred center, your source energy, is hard-wired to your being in a state of flow, which lands you plop! in the present moment. A very important place to be if you are a human being, but especially if you are a singer.

I call this place the Flow State. It is the second pillar of the framework that I have been developing throughout the course of my singing and teaching career, and it is the most hard-won lesson I have learned. I believe it is so incredibly useful and helpful for anyone because I believe it can truly help alleviate so much pressure, worry, and anguish for singers.

How?

The Flow State is breath flow, but more accurately breath energy flow. Breath energy is more than the binary inhale-exhale cycle we are accustomed to. It is the subtle force of life moving through you. 

The basic idea is that we want to keep it moving, to be in constant flow, a breath loop. When we are in Flow State, your instrument operates with subtle brilliance. You are quite literally a sacred instrument, like some heaven-constructed oboe: neutral construct, resonant, flexible, powerful. All it needs is a clear-minded operator!

Ok, how many of us are in the constant flow of breath energy when we sing? Right.

We lose access to our breath as we live our lives on Planet Earth. It is really damn hard being a human being. The flow of life that is so natural to us as children is decreased over the course of time. This affects the flow of breath energy which affects your singing and which affects your life.

Our energy flow is compromised. Our minds become oversized. Our muscles become rigid. Our breath becomes forced.

We are out of subtle balance. We have lost our flow of breath energy.

As a result, we are indoctrinated to believe that we must fix, push, or think our voice into behaving better.

I disagree. Having won back that breath energy back myself through incredible determination, I see how detrimental and potentially destructive this mindset can be. You will feel better and experience luminous, confident, effort-free singing when you are in a flow state of breath. It is utterly possible.

So HOW do we fall out of the Flow State? How are we separated from the Sacred Voice?

1) Overthinking

When you are overthinking your singing, you SABOTAGE your natural flow of breath. You are not designed to think your voice. You are designed to allow your voice. Your body knows how to sing perfectly. (Isn’t that awesome?) Overthinking invites effort and effort begets artificial pressure throughout your entire body. This means getting tight. You experience a total contraction of self. When you overthink your singing, you feel compelled to shove, grunt, or hoist your voice, and you will feel, see, hear, and experience the effects in the quality of vibration. Your breath flow system is off-kilter and out of balance, and leads to all-encompassing tension. More to the point, your ego voice is in control, and you feel disconnected from your Sacred Voice. Loss of Flow State. 

2) Fear

When you are scared, you STOP the natural flow of breath. Fear and singing are common bedfellows. When you encounter your fear, you seize up. You feel threatened. Imagine someone is about to smack you: what do you do? You clamp your eyes shut, suck in your gut, and hold your breath. I call this The Flinch. It is pure instinct, ancient patterning you inherited as a human being. So if you are singing and you feel scared, you hold your breath. This occurs within the span of a microsecond, mind you, but this complete stop will also cause full-scale tension throughout your instrument, starting in the brain, heading straight to your solar plexus, and then rippling throughout your system. Ultimately, this stoppage of breath flow makes us singers feel incredibly out of control and degrades trust in our voice. It is a lousy place to be and crazy-making for sure. Loss of Flow State?

3) Energy Block

When you have an energy block, you INHIBIT the natural flow of breath. Energy blocks are common to everyone I have ever met. They develop over the course of our lives, and they are part of our human experience. You block the flow of your energy, the life force moving within you, when you experience suffering, trauma, shame, or other triggering emotions. Each center (there are seven main energy centers) is related to some aspect of our Self, and they correspond to our emotional experiences. If, say, you feel threatened (as above), the energy moving through your solar plexus center is blocked. Your physical body manifests that block: the diaphragm becomes rigid, the jaw tightens, the tongue pulls backward, the soft palate droops, the pelvic floor tightens. Your instrument adapts to the quality of the energy flow. Blocked energy is a petri dish for overthinking and fear. Loss. Of. Flow. State. 

The Flow State is absolutely attainable for anyone. It is, in fact, our “natural” state.

But it takes a rigorous amount of self-awareness, discipline of the mind, and a trusty map of the breathing system to hook in and re-establish the flow.

How?

Keep your eye on the breath at all times. Never stray. When you fall off the wagon (you will), hop back on. And over and over again you practice, until you become addicted to your clear mind, your confidence, and your unadulterated joy in singing. 

And the greatest reward: dancing with your Sacred Voice as you share it with the world.

Hugs,

allison

IMAGE: Mario Azzi 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

That time I sang for President Obama
That time I sang for President Obama

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?
How do you (actually) use your sacred voice?

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more
Your one and only voice
Your one and only voice

W R I T T E N  B Y  Allison Mondel [dssb_sharing_buttons columns="5" btn_padding="0px||||false|false" _builder_version="4.9.2" _module_preset="default" share_font="Alata||||||||" share_text_align="left" width="90%" max_width="100%" module_alignment="left"...

read more