The Real Reasons You Hate Your Voice
I have lost count of how many times I have heard students say that they think their voice is "awful," "ugly," "terrible" or that they just plain hate it.
You'd think it would be an issue that would be specific to beginners but skill level often has very little to do with it. I see singers who sound like they've smashed a song with an incredible tone only to hear them claim it was rubbish when they'd finished.
So what are they hearing that everyone else isn't?
There are FOUR main factors I've seen that can warp your idea of how your voice sounds.
#1. You don't actually know what you sound like outside of your own head.
The tone you hear inside your head can be dramatically different to what others hear. Most of your sound is leaving your head remember, so you're only getting a portion of it vibrating inside there.
If you cup your hands around the backs of your ears with your elbows straight out in front of you, you'll get more of a sense of what you sound like as the sound pings back from your arms.
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#2. You don't have control over your voice.
If you have no idea what sound is going to pop out of your mouth at any given time, it can be pretty worrying.
If you're yet to get the building blocks of technique working for you, you'll possibly find that your voice is inconsistent and will occasionally throw a toddler-like tantrum.
Firstly, give yourself a break. You're still learning! Soak up as much knowledge about the voice as you can and work on getting your breathing, your body and the pieces of the vocal tract (mouth and throat) all working effectively and efficiently.
#3. You're a perfectionist.
Hi, my name is Kim and I'm a recovering perfectionist. I recognise that this can feel a little like an illness. It drains the joy from singing like a succubus and one shaky note can feel like Doomsday.
Music is open to interpretation and should be guided by emotion, story-telling and passion. These factors help the voice to ebb and flow, move around and create different colours and textures. That is part of the beauty of singing.
It also means that perfect is open to interpretation. Most perfectionists actually have no concept of what perfect would sound like in the first place or their idea is vague at best. "I just want it to sound good" isn't constructive or specific enough and sets you up for failure time and time again.
Get clear about what it is that you'd like to improve on. Would you like it to sound richer, brighter, breathier, stronger? Those are things we can work with, and perfect isn't in that basket.
#4. You're in a negative headspace about yourself.
Self love is one of those over-used terms that can make some people's eyes roll sky high and others find that their gag reflex moves into gear.
I'm not going to go too far down that rabbit hole but what I will say is that how you feel about yourself as a person on any given day will have an effect on your voice.
If you're feeling pathetic or powerless, you'll find it difficult to create a strong sound without straining. If you're feeling highly emotional, out of control and ashamed, it'll be tricky to control the consistency of the voice.
If you're feeling the weight of self loathing, the likelihood of you enjoying the sound of your own voice is very slim.
So what can you do?
The last 3 reasons I listed above take time to work on, so being able to flip your perspective is a skill that you'll want to get better at. You don't want to hate your voice for the first 3 - 6 months of your singing journey, so you may need to switch up your approach sometimes.
Try singing through a section of a song and picking out the words you DID like the sound of. What did you like about them? What "colours" did you hear in those words that you enjoyed (powerful, light, sweet, nasal, dark, full etc)?
Have goals around the way it feels versus the way it sounds. Aim for hitting a note without strain or tightness as the first goal. High five yourself if you do that, regardless of the tone of it - then get to work on creating the sound you're after.
Start a compliment journal. I know I hammer on about this a bit, but it's so nice to have a collection of lovely things people have said about your voice (and nice things you've THOUGHT about your own voice) to refer to when you're having a practice session where your inner critic is being a huge pain.
If you're holding yourself back because of any of the reasons above OR would like to work on training your voice more, you might want to grab my Kickstarter Pack.