Please keep in mind that I am proudly one of those “crazy” singers. We ALL are, no matter how normal one may appear on the outside. It’s an occupational hazard. So let us begin.
In no particular order…
1. We carry our instrument, our voice, with us wherever we go. It is inside us, intricately a part of our bodies, and thus subject to the whims of those bodies. Some days we feel fantastic and other days like crap, often for no apparent reason. We can eat right, exercise, get 8 hours of sleep and still feel like crap. Or we can abuse ourselves, not sleep, eat terribly, drink too much, talk too much, scream, yell and otherwise abuse ourselves and sometimes (truly) with no apparent side effects (at first). How often I’ve wished I could take my voice out, leave it in a safe place, like a piano or violin, and take it up only when needed. Alas, it doesn’t work that way.
2. Because of the above physical position of our instrument, we create elaborate rules (superstitions, mostly) of what we can and cannot, should and should not eat or drink in order to somehow keep our voice in working order. Some people forswear dairy, others swear by it. Tea seems universally to be a healing elixir but there is certainly nothing magical about it. (It certainly does feel good to a raw, sore throat though!) Soda is for some a no (me), others a yes; I had a student long ago who absolutely swore that drinking a Coke before singing was the only reason he sang well…Crazy, you say? Well, not for him. And since we all live in glass houses, it is best not to throw stones. Honey, hot sauce, bananas, ginger…the list goes on and on. We all probably acknowledge water is a good, safe bet, but I think that’s where the agreement ends.
3. Because our voice is inside us, it is also intricately, intimately connected to our psyche. My voice teacher wrote a whole book on this subject. He always said, and I completely agree with him, “our voice is us.” When we develop our voice, we are developing our psyche too. Learning to sing better (more freely, more beautifully, higher, lower, louder, quieter…) can be a profound personal experience and alter who and how we are as a human as much as how we make music. AND the throat is also the center of our emotions which is why we get “choked up” and why it’s hard to talk when we’re very emotional (crying, etc… ). So when we develop it in a profound way, we are accessing all of that: emotions and feelings and energy that may be totally unrelated to what is happening in our day-to-day lives. So the crazy singer crying outside of her voice lesson (that could have been me on the corner of 86th and West End Ave any time between 1998-2008!) or even laughing uncontrollably (also me at various times in that decade) may have just had the best lesson of her life or the worst or just releasing random pent-up emotions. See, CRAZY! But oh so worth it for the amazing experience that singing is.