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Vocal Narcissism

Vocal Narcissism - Me, Myself and I? and MY VOICE!

Written by Diana Yampolsky

vocal cartoon - narcissist Music is often called the world's greatest communication tool. An effective piece of music crosses national boundaries and a good song transgresses any language barriers. That said, a common problem that I have found afflicts many aspiring singers is that they do not realize that singing is a great vehicle for communication - ideas, emotions, lust, pain, frustrations, love, etc. Through singing you can communicate them more efficiently and personally than with any other art form, be it film, writing or dance.

For those that aren't familiar with it, I would like to explain the meaning of the word narcissism. It comes from a greek myth; narcissus was a beautiful youth who refused the love of a nymph named Echo. In punishment the goddess Aphrodite condemned him to fall in love with his own image. Forced to gaze constantly at his reflection in a clear pool, he pined away and died. Quite a few modern day "Narcissus" have passed through my studio throughout the more than 25 years I have been teaching and they have been among the most difficult students in terms of delivering my method because they are so self-absorbed in the sound of their own voice that they forget the need to communicate something to the audience.

Not too long ago, one of the major record companies sent me a student who had a lot of natural singing talent that needed refining. It was clear from the moment he opened his mouth that he had a truly beautiful voice and it was also obvious that he had absolutely no idea how to use it. (Although this latter fact was obvious to me, he was completely oblivious to it!) In many ways, his singing was like a form of vocal self satisfaction; he was satisfying himself but not his audience (in this instance I was his audience) and it was clear that he didn't even care. The egoistic approach is the worst approach to singing because it separates the singer from the audience rather than bringing the two together. You could actually hear the conceit and arrogance in his singing and all of the lyrics sounded insincere and unauthentic. In previous articles and in my first book, Vocal Science - Flight to the Universe, I have always stressed that the best singers naturally are willing to give and share part of themselves with the listeners. This student was the exact opposite; he was only concerned with his own needs and not with what the audience needed.

The reason that he was difficult to teach was not because he was unintelligent or untalented. He was actually very smart and musically gifted. Instead the same conceit and self-absorption that prevented him from sharing himself with the audience also prevented him from more easily receiving what I had to offer. With my extensive experience (and having witnessed many other "vocal narcissists") I was able to get through and teach him everything I had to offer, but it was exhausting and took a lot out of me.

Vocal Narcissism is very sad if it goes untreated because it is very much like a beautiful instrument that is being played by someone who doesn't know how to do it justice. I have a wonderful, unique piano in my studio that I brought with me from Russia over 20 years ago. By itself, it is only a piece of furniture. It takes a really good player to do it justice - the player who is able to take the maximum capacity of this instrument. As I remind you, it takes two - the instrument and the player. A naturally beautiful voice is very much a gift and an instrument for vocal communication from God and I believe to waste it is a very sad thing indeed. You should always be aware that, as a singer, you are BOTH THE INSTRUMENT AND A PLAYER.

Vocal Narcissism always results in singing that will leave the audience unsatisfied despite the fact that the singer might have a beautiful voice but is not an adequate player of his given instrument. Therefore, only one-way communication and one-way satisfaction takes place - clearly screaming out "Me, Myself and I? and MY VOICE!".