We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, I prefer the phrase “Practice makes Permanent.” I don’t want to strive for perfectionism. Perfectionism inhibits us. When learning to sing or studying a new skill, we become so focused on “perfecting our craft” that we forget to strive for artistry, master healthy techniques, and find expression. This isn’t to say we give up striving for excellence. We want our practice to be focused and mindful so we can permanently rely on good technique and skills for success. Permanence and Perfectionism are NOT the same thing.
First, let’s look at perfectionism in its limitations. Perfection demands an end goal; it leaves no room for continued growth or discovery. Just like healthy eating and exercise is a lifelong, daily process, so is singing. While we don’t strive for perfectionism, we strive to excel in training our voice to function the best that WE know how. As humans we have an innate drive to develop ourselves further, therefore, it’s the JOURNEY toward perfection that brings us joy, not perfection itself. So, we develop tools to polish our voices, to build strength and agility and we strive for PERMANENCE in keeping those tools learned and remembered.
Second, perfection lacks connection. We can’t hope to connect with our audience, to be vulnerable on stage or in the studio, when our primary focus is on perfect singing. Making true music that touches our souls and hearts, doesn’t just stop with beautiful singing or great technique, it is fueled by raw, authentic songwriting and self. We are drawn to the artists that aren’t afraid to be themselves on stage, who relate to each of us, and continue to work on their craft. Watch any live performance of Kelly Clarkson, and you will understand why we love listening to incredible vocals (but not perfect!) full of vulnerability and authenticity we crave as human beings. Perfection gives into the fear of judgement, fear of not being accepted or “liked”. It sets us up for failure because all we can think about is whether or not we are technically perfect, relatable enough, funny enough, entertaining enough, beautiful enough…on and on and on…perfection never allows for joy in the journey. When we long for perfection, we leave no more for daily discovery.
So how do we balance the desire to be our very best but not make ourselves crazy in the process when we discover our shortcomings again and again? We strive for PERMANENCE, in other words, we find the tools that help our voice function the very best and we work on those tools daily, exercising our voices so those good habits become Permanent. I help my clients discover and develop the best tools for their voice so they can find the freedom in their voice quickly. We rely on permanent good habits put in place by consistent, daily, mindful practice. Permanence allows us to still be excellent singers, honest songwriters, and relatable human beings because we are willing to keep taking risks. We use the tools we have learned, and we continue to build on them. Permanence allows for discovery and bravery in our singing. We build excellent, sustainable and permanent habits so we can balance performance and technique then move on from thinking to our real goal-expression and connection.