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  • Elle Zee

On Being Human

Last week I spent six straight days immersed in an annual voice teacher training given by The LoVetri Institute for Somatic Voicework(TM). I went in anticipating to amass bounds of information about voice science, vocal technique, kinesthetic awareness, aural skills, and a bunch of other vocal pedagogy buzzwords; I left with so much more.

I have to say, the process was a bit grueling and took me way out of my comfort zone. After about three days, I felt shaken to the core, fairly detached, with the realization I had been out of touch with many parts of myself for some time.

Prior to studying at Berklee, I took several years of voice lessons from a Somatic Voicework(TM) certified teacher, who I now consider a good friend and mentor. While taking these lessons, I loved singing, I felt connected to my body, and I felt my voice reflected my spirit. My teacher helped me prepare for my audition, and upon matriculation, I stopped studying with her and started my Berklee journey. I am grateful to have studied at Berklee - I gained so much knowledge, experience, and met some really amazing people. I did some incredible writing there, yet I also exhausted myself. I graduated Summa Cum laude with a degree in Songwriting, yet I spent my last three semesters doing virtually no writing at all. I had gotten really good at the craft of songwriting, and yet I had no desire to write anymore. In fact, I often recoiled at the idea - an incredibly disheartening experience.

Further, I learned how to listen to, analyze, edit, and produce sound - super important skills in the music industry - yet, I hated doing it. I was SO EXHAUSTED. My music didn't feel like mine anymore. Singing became a robotic process of creating a "perfect" sound, not an authentic sound indicative of my humanness in the moment. The love was gone. The passion was gone. I didn't even like listening to music anymore.

This is not to deter any prospective music student from pursuing a music degree or career. This is just my experience as a new holder of a BM working to find balance and joy in music again - which brings me back to my experience at The LoVetri Institute.

Day 3 of the training and I'm feeling like I don't recognize myself, my voice, my style of teaching, anything anymore. Day 7, my voice feels healthy, I post an IGTV of me singing joyfully without fear, judgment, or analysis. What happened in between?

I'm honestly not sure. I do know I feel more connected to my body than I have in some time (I ran 9 miles the day after I completed the training - the furthest I've ever run, and it felt good the entire time). I've written and recorded a full song. I'm feeling more empathetic and supportive of my students. I'm witnessing the process of singing from a place of curiosity, playfulness, and amazement at what the human voice can do. That feeling of my voice reflecting my spirit has returned and I'm enjoying music again. I feel reinvigorated and ready to start my graduate program in Music Therapy next month from a place of reconnection with my truth.

I'm appreciative of the ebbs and flows my musical (and life) journey have taken. One sticking point of the work I did last week was this: We do not teach voices, we teach human beings. I'm grateful to feel like a human being with a voice again.

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