I have a student who’s voice swallows her whole. Like she’s lost inside of a maze of sound. Her maze is her big voice and she’s lost inside of it. It’s amazing and impressive and the words she is singing are just a side bar. It seems to me her voice is her way to protect herself. People love it, her voice that is, not unlike those famous people who died young, Amy Winehouse and the like, she has this big voice that brings people to her. Only she’s inside of the maze. Lost. Her big voice is a really affective way to get space and to push people away. The people who want her to sing and to be impressive, those ones. How ironic. And now for my next trick…
She tells me how when she sings that she can think lots of things. There are countless instructions about where to move, where to look, how and when to react. The maze is her storefront. Her store of instructions with goodies to sell people what they want. I tell her this and she understands what I mean, but its big, big news that someone knows. Someone can see my storefront, the thing that precedes me, but isn’t that right? she asks. Now I’m inside of the maze with her. I say let’s look around in here and just be curious about it and what is all means. She understands. We go inside.
Having a really big voice is what everyone wants. She has one, and everyone wants it, the power of it. Her maze is important. I don’t want to take away her maze, and I can’t. But I want her to feel her way through the maze so she understands all of the twists and turns of the maze and why it is ‘the way it is.’ But mostly to find the way out and to at least for her to have that option.
She said she thought it was normal. I said it might be normal but it’s not natural. She understands what I mean. They want me to feel more, she says. I say, can you? She says, I’m trying, but I don’t know how. We go into the maze together. We find out that’s not what the maze does. It’s job is to keep the feelings away, to hide them inside of the maze so you don’t know where they are. I know. I had a maze once. Have you ever tried to feel inside of a very loud room?
Every time she sings and they applaud her maze grows bigger. Their needs grow and hers get lost. She says help me to feel. I say who is it for? She wants out of the maze but the maze is keeping her safe. I ask her to sing quietly, and to bring the volume down. She’s confused. She sings quietly and I can feel who she is without her voice swallowing her, suffocating her beauty. I tell her its beautiful, that her voice is beautiful. I ask her does she want this beauty? To experience this beauty, for herself. She doesn’t understand and doesn’t know which way to go or to turn, because, now she’s trying to give me what I want.
But for now, they want her to be big and not beautiful. Beautiful would make them all feel too much. And she wants them to be happy and not uncomfortable. That’s more important. For now.