Episode 25 – Why Is Vocalizing Easier Than Singing Songs?
Updated: Sep 24
Okay, I admit it, even now, vocalizing certain things is easier than actually singing the lyrics!
In this Episode I talk about why this is sometimes true, both from an Inner Singer standpoint and a technical standpoint.
Now it’s important to begin to bring these 2 aspects or our singing together!
I feel like we’re entering a new phase here on the Inner Singer Podcast.
Please enjoy and let me know if this resonates with you.
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 25 – Transcripts
Why is Vocalizing Easier than Singing Songs?
Well, hi there, everybody. This is Mike Goodrich. This is the Inner Singer Podcast, episode no. 25. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks for being here.
I want to talk today about why—at least for me, and I assume a lot of you are the same way because I get questions like this all the time—vocalizing seems a lot easier than actually singing songs, singing words? And I want to address this from an inner singer standpoint.
So, let’s talk about that for just a second. First of all, let me ask you—kind of virtual hand-raise here—are you one that finds vocalizing easier than actually singing songs? And that’s in case you vocalize because some people don’t. I’m sure some people listening to this may not even have had lessons before and may not vocalize.
But if you have or if you do, do you find that vocalization is easier, for the most part, than singing actual words? Do you ever feel that? I must admit that even now, once in a while, depending on the song or the passage or the vowel in wherever it happens to be in the voice, I may find another vowel preferable, I may find on a particular passage that maybe goes to a higher note on an ĕ vowel or an ā vowel not my favorite. I would rather an ŭh up there. My voice likes that a little bit better. My voice likes that a little bit better.
So, sometimes, I will actually vocalize and go up on an ŭ just to feel it, and then I’ll build whatever vowel was necessary for the song around that ŭ. I’ll go into more detail about that some other time because I really want to approach this from a little bit more of an inner singer standpoint.
But having said that, if anybody is listening to this podcast that is really interested in knowing a little bit more about the technical aspect of it, let me know. I can add that. There are other ways that I can answer those questions for you.
So, anyway, let’s look at this from a brain standpoint. Let’s look at it from an inner singer standpoint. I used to, years ago, vocalize really, really well and sing really badly. How in the world could that even be?
Oftentimes, I vocalize on the same vowels that you need for singing, but vocalization was easy and singing was challenging. I see that in a lot of my students, and I get this question all the time.
My feeling is as follows:
If we put this in a brain place, talk about it from a brain standpoint, when we’re vocalizing, we’re in a particular brain state and we are in a particular wave pattern, brainwave pattern, and we may be in a particular wiring in our brain, a particular circuity in a place that feels kind of safe.
It’s vocalizing, the stakes aren’t very high. We don’t usually vocalize for anybody. We don’t go into the studio or vocalize. We don’t vocalize on the stage. We vocalize in private or for our teacher. And by the time we’ve done that a little bit of time, the stakes aren’t very high. We don’t get very nervous doing it. All of a sudden, it just gets a lot easier.
We also have a tendency to do it on a specific vowel throughout an exercise, and it gets worked into the voice and the brain.
So, from an inner singer standpoint, we get very used to it and we feel safe and we feel comfortable and we feel easy with it. We can be a little bit more playful with it. We can go a little bit more into our implicit memory system with it.
In other words, when we do a scale over and over again, it goes from our explicit memory to our implicit. Maybe we’re singing implicitly at that point. We’re not thinking about it, kind of like driving.
But a song is a different thing. Many of us set ourselves up for a difficult time singing songs in that—and let me just cover a couple of things. The obvious things are we don’t know the words. So, we’re trying to read the words, and at the same time, we’re trying to get the notes. And if we only have 100% to give, then some of that goes to reading the words, trying to remember the words. Some of it goes to trying to remember the melody. Some of it goes to where the vowels are supposed to go. We’re very, very, at that point, scattered.
And so, what happens is instead of being in that nice, safe, comfortable, easy brainwave state when we’re vocalizing, then all of a sudden, we start to get scared.
We start to move out of that place into perhaps even another brainwave state into another wiring where we start to be a little bit uncomfortable, a little fearful because we’ve given ourselves 1) we’re singing a song, so the stakes are immediately higher, 2) we may know the lyrics very well which makes it more difficult, 3) now we’re thinking about lyrics, melody and all that goes with singing a song which comes with a tremendous amount of conditions that are unconscious to most of us.
So, if we have a lot of conditions that we need to meet, they’re operating below the level of our awareness, and they’re conditions based on how good we feel the song must be, how good we need to sing the song, how good the person is that we are emulating, or we’ve heard somebody sing the song and that’s why we’re inspired to do it, so we’re in a comparison mode—
And a lot of this is really, really unconscious. But whatever is running, it takes us out of that place of safety and comfort and puts us in a place where we’re not feeling we’re safe.
So, from an inner singer standpoint, before we even talk about technique—which we’ll go into a little bit because that will be fun—before we even talk about that, just from an inner singer standpoint, the vocalization we could say is—
And we can say there’s a number of ways. Let’s say it this way first. We could say that if we’ve done a tremendous amount of vocalization, then the vocalization is in more of our implicit memory system, which means we don’t have to think about it much like driving.
Now, if we’re trying to move and shift into now singing the song, a lot of that, if we’ve got other things going on—listening to the track, listening to the accompaniment, playing an instrument, trying to remember the lyrics, the melody, whatever it is—we’re now really more in our explicit memory system which demands a tremendous more concentration.
Remember when you started learning how to drive how much was involved, and now you don’t even think about it? As a matter of fact, there has to be a law against texting while people drive because we all think that we can do driving and everything else at the same time. That’s how ridiculously easy it’s gotten, right?
So, that’s from a brain standpoint. Vocalization could be in the implicit memory system and in our singing could be in our explicit memory system.
So, what can we do to take advantage and capitalize on how easy vocalizing might be or how much easier it might be?
Well, first of all, let’s see if we can move singing into that same ease, into that same place and into that same brainwave pattern, into the same wiring, into the same circuitry, into the same programming. How do we do that?
Well, we can do that with a little bit of bridging work. And for those who have ever received my videos or seen any of my videos, I talk about this one particular exercise which I’m going to mention now because I think it’ll be good. And I can explain it also from an inner singer standpoint. We’ve already gone over a little bit of that, but let’s talk about this for a second.
So, we’ve been talking about vocalizing, doing scales, exercises and what-have-you, versus singing a song. But let’s move into what about vocalizing a song? What about taking a particular sound—
I, for one, am very, very fond of the sound ŭ like in book, put, that ŭ sound. I’m very, very fond of that when somebody is having trouble singing a song with lyrics.
So, I would oftentimes take and use that as a bridge. So we’re vocalizing very well, having a little trouble with the lyrics, so let’s take this song—let’s forget the lyrics for a minute—and let’s use the sound ŭ. And we can put an n on it, so it’s nŭ—nŭ, nŭ, nŭ.
Well, does that do? Number one, technically, it’s very important because it’s going to help us make the bridges. It’s going to help us get the voice in line because now we only have one sound to think about. So we can stay very relaxed with our tone, our jaw, our lips. If somebody watches us, we can almost look like a ventriloquist without even hardly moving at all.
So, if I was doing the national anthem or something like that in our country over here in the United States, the Star Spangled Banner—for those of you not from this country, the first line is, “Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light?” If anybody has trouble with that, it’s usually because it gets very bridgy, and they’re splatting the vowels. So they’r egoing too broad on the vowels.
So, maybe they’re going, “Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light?” You felt that by jump out, right? “…by the dawn’s early light?” I’m obviously doing that to exaggerate the point. But that really does happen to people. They go out much more than that. They’ll go out on every other vowel.
So, they might say, “Oh, say…”—too broad—“can”—too broad—“you”—see how the oo comes in—“see”—and the ee comes in—“by”—and by goes out again—“the dawn’s ear…”—that comes in—“early light”—and that goes out again.
So I’m really exaggerating the point here. But it’s important because we’re in a particular brain circuitry at that point. We’re in our default wiring for singing because we haven’t learned the other way.
But now, let’s take and put what we do when we vocalize in there, and let’s do that on nŭ, the sound nŭ. And let’s have every syllable be nŭ.
So, we say instead of, “Oh, say, can you see by,” we go, “nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ… nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ.” I really picked a low key, didn’t I? But you get the idea.
You see how everything was just in line, “nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ… nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ, nŭ.” Nothing goes out, nothing goes broad, nothing gets squeezed. Everything is right in there.
So, what happening when we do that? Well, we can say, “Yes, it’s the vowel,” and of course, it is, it’s the vowel. But what is the success of doing that do for our inner singer?
Well, it does begin to change the wiring, doesn’t it? It begins to change the belief system, doesn’t it, and the thoughts about it? All of a sudden, we go from, “This song is terribly difficult. I can barely sing this song” to “This is totally easy. It’s just like vocalizing. There’s no difference.”
So, we start getting into a new place with our singing. We start moving and transitioning into that place that we are vocalizing and we start bringing that together into singing. So that’s an inner singer thing.
And then by the same token, what’s going on in our voice is we’re working the song into our voice. We’re working into our voice by doing it over and over again. We’re building what’s called the vocal line by doing that sound over and over and over again. We’re blazing a trail. We’re cutting a trail.
It’s really as if we’re going through brush and we’re cutting away a trail until we have a nice trail that we can go and walk through. And that’s what we’re doing with our voice. We’re cutting through all the brush and the confusion and the clutter by giving ourselves one sound to think about, one sound to work with, and one sound to be able to refine as we go.
And so there’s not a lot going on. We don’t have much of vowel changes and consonants and dull things to deal with and word to remember. We have a greater chance of success.
And so what happens is we begin to move into feeling much safer doing this, much less conditioned with ourselves because we’re vocalizing. See, now we’re not singing. The song takes on a different meaning. Now, it’s a vocalization.
“Oh, I can relax and do that. That’s easy. I can vocalize really well. It’s singing that’s tough.” That’s okay if that’s we believe. We start moving into a place where we’re bringing the two together, and we’re going to begin to sing the way we vocalize with that kind of ease, that kind of comfort, and that kind of feeling of safety and with the kind of conditions that vocalizing brings which are basically none. We don’t put anything on ourselves for that generally. There’s certainly much, much less than we do for singing a song.
So, that’s one really important thing that you can do. That works from a technical standpoint as well as an inner singer standpoint.
What I really want you all to see is how this all comes together as one thing, so that we don’t really think of the inner singer as something separate from our voice or our voice as something separate from our inner singer. Everything begins to work together.
That’s why our vocalization and our singing need to start coming together more so that we know why we’re vocalizing. We’re vocalizing so that we can build a vocal line, build the ease in the voice, build the confidence in the voice.
And what is that doing and why is that happening? Because we’re creating a wiring in our brain that supports us feeling safe and happy and comfortable with something that feels easy to us.
And it also starts getting into our implicit memory system where we don’t have to think about it.
And that’s another thing. When we add that nŭ instead of the lyrics, we are now moving into a place of being able to sing form our implicit memory system. Now, all of a sudden, “Oh, all I have to think of us nŭ. Well, that’s easy. All of a sudden, I don’t have to think of any lyrics. Nŭ, nŭ, nu… that’s all I have to think about. I can do that.” All of a sudden, the song is much easier.
I’m a really firm believer in success breeding success. So as you’re vocalizing, if you have something that you do particularly well, do it a lot. Focus on your strengths. And then, if there is something that is challenging to you from a vocal standpoint when you’re vocalizing, you’re doing an exercise, whether it’s a vowel, a scale or whatever it is, take this success that you have with something that’s very easy—and like I said, do the easy thing a lot. Do what really, really works a lot—and then, sneak it very gently into the things that don’t work as well because, number one, you want to take that success that you’re having with something that’s working really well into something that isn’t working as easily. And the way that you do that is by maintaining the same inner singer standpoint.
So, if you are in a particular state, in a particular place when you’re vocalizing where something is easy and you’ve come to the point where you feel, “Oh, this is really easy. I hardly have to think about this at all. This is going really well,” then start moving slowly into something that doesn’t work as well and try and keep the same attitude, the same feel, the same joy.
Stay in that same brain place, that same brainwave, circuitry and what-have-you. Stay there. And if you start falling out, then go back to something that’s easy. And then, when you’re in that place again, you’re nice and relaxed, you’re having some fun, start sneaking into those other areas that are a little bit more challenging.
Try and bring that ease and that joy and that confidence which really is what’s going on with you inside to that newer activity.
My suggestion is never to take something that isn’t working very well and pound away at it. It’s never been my experience that that is hugely beneficial.
Now, that doesn’t mean that from a singing standpoint, you don’t work on things that you would consider a temporary weakness—certainly, you do. But my suggestion is that you always come at these temporary weaknesses from a position of strength and confidence because then you can bring that strength and confidence into the new activity and you can bring the new activity into that atmosphere of strength, confidence, security and safety—and fun almost more importantly, right?
So, when you’re doing your vocalization, begin bringing the singing into it on purpose. Sing a couple of words, sing a coupe of lines, and then go back to vocalizing as you’re vocalizing through the song. And pay particular attention to how the vocalization on, let’s say, nŭ feels, how everything feels in line vocally.
And then how do you feel emotionally? Do you start to relax a little bit more because those things are feeling more in line? “Okay. Now, what can I do to help bring these vowels into that same vocal line?” And of course, many of you have teachers, I’m sure, which is great. Make sure that they’re helping you with the vowels, how you dial in the vowels. And if you don’t have anyone that can help you, then you reach out to me. And if you’re interested in this type of thing, certainly reach out to me because I can create things that can help you with that as well.
The first thing you really want to make sure you do is you begin to notice how the vocalization feels versus the singing because the goal is to bring those two together. So you have the singing on one hand, you have the vocalization with the exercises on another, and then you have the vocalization of the song with a sound like nŭ or nū or no. I particularly like nŭ as I’ve said many times in this podcast.
So, see how that goes as a bridge to get you from vocalizing to singing, so that you begin to sing with the same ease and joy and fun and feeling of safety that you do when you’re vocalizing.
There are a lot of technical things involved, but there are a lot of inner singer things involved. And all of these begin to come together.
And that’s what I want to start doing more for you, bringing these things together, so you can see, “Oh, I understand now how the inner singer and the technique—there’s a synergy between those. How the synergy between the inner singer, what I’m believing, what I’m feeling, what my wiring and my programming is and my technique and how each one begins to support the other.”
There’s no kidding ourselves. Oftentimes, if we begin to sing a little better, not only is it more fun, but it supports and reinforces the idea that we can do it. Everything helps everything. Nothing stands alone. The inner singer does not stand alone because without a voice to sing through, what’s the inner singer? And the voice does not stand alone because without an inner singer that’s supportive and developed in a way that we talk about in these podcasts, then I’ve seen so many great singers have miserable lives and awful careers.
So, it’s all inclusive. Everything helps everything.
Alrightee, thanks so much for listening. I hope you got something out of this. Please send me your comments, let me know what you’re thinking. I look forward talking to you in the next podcast. I’ll see you soon. Bye bye.