There’s an old saying:
The teachings of the Buddha should be like soap…
you use them to clean and purify yourself and then you wash them off!
Makes sense, right?
Imagine using soap to lather up, scrub, and lift the dirt from your skin only to leave the filthy suds on your body and walk around the world covered in grime, as if you were clean.
Blech! It’s disgusting!
But, isn’t that what we tend to do with singing technique?!?
We take the exercises and lessons that are meant to purify us and we wear them like filthy badges of honor as if they themselves are what are important — not us, not our singing. We attach to the method more than where the method is designed to lead us. It’s like wanting to cross to the other side of a river, but getting stuck on the bridge for so long that we forget there even is an other side!
I think of singing exercises and technique (the ones that work at least) like soap that we must eventually wash off. When we do this at just the right time, what we should be left with is a better sense of our own vocal ability and a more direct and immediate connection to our voice as a means of expression – without having to think about the soap any more!
In other words, on the other side, we should easily and simply be able to do what we want!
If this isn’t the case, we have to ask, “why not?”
What are we holding onto that is getting in the way of our singing – singing that might already be pure and beautiful beneath all the suds and grime?
And, if when you do wash it off nothing is actually better, we also must ask ourselves, “What new soap could we find, use and then WASH OFF?”