If you have ever taken a voice lesson, or received guidance in voice technique, it is quite likely that concepts have been described to you with mental images, such as:
- Sing in the mask
- Sing with a forward placement
- Support your voice
- Smell the rose
- Imagine that you are a long pipe
At best the mental image helped you to sing better. In another scenario you were left thinking about what you were told with wrinkles in your forehead even more puzzled than before. Or perhaps the mental image made a change for the better in your singing, but you still don’t know why it did that.
If mental images have ever puzzled you, we recommend you to read forward.
Mental Images’ Pursuit Is To Explain Sensations Caused By Different Functions In The Vocal Apparatus
The purpose of mental images is to make the voice student experience a wanted concept or function in their own body and instrument. At best mental images can bring excellent results in teaching singing; at worst they bring no results at all. Sometimes an unsuitable mental image may even guide the student to do something that is the opposite of what was its original purpose. What works for one student may not work for the other.
Even The Best Mental Image Needs To Be Thrown Away If It Doesn’t Do What It’s Meant To Do
For some individuals a certain mental image may bring some kind of wanted opening within the instrument, whereas for some the same image may cause them to strain the voice. In order for the voice student to make progress in singing it is crucial for the voice teacher to know what kinds of functions the student needs to learn and practice, and to guide the student to the most suitable mental images and vocal exercises to ensure the development of the wanted functions. It is also effective if the student learns to recognize how the wanted functions feel in their own instrument. This way practicing becomes efficient and goal-oriented.
Mental Images May Help, But Why?
If a certain mental image causes any of the following, you are on the right track:
- Mental image helps you to sing easier in a wanted way
- Mental image helps you to sing high easier
- Mental image helps you to sing low notes easier
- Mental image helps you to get rid of constriction in the throat
- Mental image helps you to bring wanted brightness or darkness into your voice
- Mental image helps you to regulate loudness in a wanted way, or to make your voice louder or softer
As said before, at their best mental images help you to find the wanted functions in your voice, or find the wanted change in your voice usage. In order to make the new function a permanent one when singing, it is good to know what it is exactly that we are aiming for with certain mental images. This way practicing singing is not just “mental image lottery”, but rather a dedicated way of action that supports the understanding of how the voice works. This way mental images can serve as super useful tools that help us to reach the wanted functions, or vocal goals. Mental images can also be updated as needed in order to ensure that practicing remains efficient.
Some who practice singing find it more useful to only think about the physiological function while practicing, and do not feel that they need a separate mental image to find that function. Whatever the strategy is, it is important than every one who practices singing can train their voice the way they feel is best for them. This way practicing remains motivating and the wanted singing goals can be reached faster and with higher efficacy.
Find Out Why Mental Images Work Physiologically!
Studying singing becomes more efficient, more motivating and more fun when we know what kinds of physiological functions are behind different mental images. The knowledge alone helps to undestrand the functions but when combined together with a kinesthetic experience it becomes a super powerful tool to improve singing.
If you are interested in this kind of approach to singing Estill Voice Training could be something that you find very useful.