Find Your Unique Voice

Monday, March 02, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)

It is said that when a violinist obtains a new violin, it can take years for the player to discover and optimize the unique voice that that particular violin has. His goal is to allow the instrument to sing with it's own special sound.

Just as the master violinist seeks to allow the violin to sing with it's own voice, so the singer should seek to allow his own voice, free from imitation, distractions and restrictions, to openly express the feelings of his heart.

Have you ever heard someone sing, and as they were performing you were wondering who exactly it was that they were trying to imitate? You thought that perhaps they had a favorite artist that they really enjoyed and that they were doing their best to recreate the other person's performance. How much better it would be that they try to sound like themselves, as God intended them to.

You are not someone else, you are God's own unique creation, and you ought to do your best to sound as good as your own individual voice will allow.

I have had some favorite singers over the years whom I have greatly admired. As a young person, I greatly enjoyed the mellow baritone voice of Ron Hamilton. As a teenager, I appreciated the strong, vibrant voice of my home church music director. As a college student, I coveted the beautiful, clear tenor voice of a fellow student. As a graduate level student, I thrilled to the powerful, operatic voices of my voice teachers.

However, I have had to personally realize that I am none of those people, nor do I sound like any of them. My vocal strength lies in being a clear, smooth, baritone singer. I must strive to be the best that I can be, within the parameters of the capabilities that God has given me alone. I must not even worry about comparing my meager abilities with those of others.

Consider 2 Corinthians 10:12:
    "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
There are standards of excellence and beauty for which we should strive, but we must compete only with ourselves, compare ourselves only with Christ, and never strive to imitate someone else.

Have you ever heard someone sing a song that obviously did not match their personality, abilities, or experience? How about a child singing a song about the great trials of life that they obviously have never experienced? How about a low voice singer trying to hit the very high note at the end of a song? How about a person with a very sober personality singing about the ecstasy of knowing Christ? In each of these examples, the singer's trying to sing a song that did not fit them personally created a distraction.

Just as the music of each song ought to agree with and enhance the text that is being sung, so the singer's voice, his personality, his life ought to agree with and enhance the song that is being sung. Each song that a singer chooses ought to touch a tender spot deep within his own heart, and ought to be able to be expressed by the singer's own unique voice.

The singer should try reciting the lyrics of a song out loud, as if they were his own words, removing as much as possible the poetic rhythms as he speaks. He should speak the words clearly and expressively, as though he had written them himself. I was in a class setting one time with about a dozen people where we actually did this as an exercise in learning to communicate better. As we recited the words of some of the classic hymns, none of us was able to complete a song with breaking into tears.

Allow the unique, new song that God has given you to communicate to others. Many of us are not song writers, but when we perform, the song must become our own heartfelt cry. Open a wide tunnel to your soul, then do your best to guide the listeners to that place in your heart that the music touches, so that they can be touched by it as well.
    The LORD

Curtis Hollembeak

Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.