When I was a college freshman, as a voice major, my voice coach assessed my vocal abilities and informed me that I was a soprano. (For those of you who don’t know, that is the highest vocal range.) I quickly thought and said, “No. I’m not”. He said, “Yes, you are”. I could not comprehend that I had that capability.
You see, I grew up singing in church and school choirs and singing solos, but never as a soprano. Choir directors throughout my life had placed me with mezzo sopranos, altos, and even with tenors (typically a male voice range). I know now this was because there was perpetually a shortage of strong voice parts to balance out all the sopranos. (There were/are typically an abundance of self-proclaimed sopranos simply because that part usually gets to sing the melody.) I was never ever placed in the soprano section and rarely ever even in the second soprano section. How could I go my whole life as anything but a first soprano and now be expected to accept and perform the role of a first soprano?! It just wasn’t possible…I thought. There is no way this guy knew what he was talking about…I thought. I knew I could NOT sing those extremely high notes.
For a whole year, I worked with my voice coach, doing vocal exercises, singing songs, building my repertoire of recital pieces. The whole year, I didn’t sing the really high notes, unless you count squeaking them out in a quick burst as singing. For a whole year, my coach patiently told me I was a first soprano and trained me as such. (At the same university, even my choral director had not placed me with the sopranos.) Harry Wayne, patiently and faithfully, drilled into my head and into my vocalizations that I was a first soprano.
One day, during my warm-up vocalizations, my eyes popped open wide, I caught my breath, and I squealed with delight and
astonishment, “I did it!”. I made it to the top of my arpeggio with a clear, bell-like, beautiful tone, and I sustained it! I was completely amazed and in a state of awe and wonder, which accompanied the thought ” I AM A SOPRANO! Wow! How cool is that?!”.
That moment remains vivid in my memory because that moment was the beginning of a beautiful transformation. I didn’t just believe I was a soprano; I WAS a soprano.
Mr. Wayne patiently led me to believe in my true self and capabilities. He saw in me what I didn’t yet see in myself. Through repetition, breaking through my old habits of beliefs, he led me through exercises that formed a new belief: I am a soprano. Once I believed, I became.
From there, it all began to flow beautifully and elegantly. I’m not talking about just my voice. I am mostly talking about my self-awareness, my confidence and my belief in myself as a person. I stepped over the threshold into a world where I began to discover and embrace my true self; what a wonder to behold. I’m so much more than I thought I was. I wonder what else I can do that I wasn’t aware of…? I was so much more at ease. (By the way, I spent all those years singing other vocal parts because I could. I had and still have a 3 1/2 octave vocal range that allows me to perform most any part. But, my true natural voice is in the first soprano range where singing is easy and free, no performance/acting necessary.)
I learned that I could discover and enjoy new aspects of myself if I just examined my beliefs, questioned them, and assessed whether or not I wanted to continue to embrace them. If I found I didn’t feel the belief was true for me, I knew that I could change that belief by creating another to replace it. I could do that with repetition.
You can do the same thing for yourself.
To assess whether or not a belief is true for you or not, think about that belief and notice how it makes you feel. If it feels good thinking about it, then odds are it is true for you, or, at the least, is currently serving you well. If it doesn’t feel good to think about, then ponder why it might not be a belief that fits well in your repertoire of motivators in life. Once you figure out why it feels ‘bad’, you can use that knowledge to figure out what would feel good. From my example, believing that I was NOT a soprano was not feeling good because it was getting in the way of my progress as a voice major and because it just didn’t feel right to me anymore. It felt ‘off’. I then discovered that the opposing belief ‘I am a soprano’ felt good and seemed true to me. I built that belief into a reality by acting and thinking as a first soprano and surrounding myself with people that supported that belief. Voila! I became a soprano! And, a lovely one as well!
What did I do? I identified the belief that was holding me back, allowed it to point me to the belief that moved me forward, and then I began acting and thinking as if I already believed it. I did this over and over and over until I no longer had to ‘fake it’. I could actually ‘make it’. I was and am a soprano. 35+ years later I still use this technique daily to make all aspects of my life feel better and better.