Overall Health- It is not whether you are skinny or overweight, but that you are healthy all around that will impact not only your self-esteem, but your singing. In order to feel good about what you do, you must feel good about you. In Classical Singer, November 2011, voice teachers give their view on Does Size Matter.
Most teachers agree, if students are very fit, sometimes they have difficulty releasing the body for good breath work, and may be scared that they look fat on stage, whereas if you are heavier, they may be self-conscious about their size and see their smaller colleagues as being more attractive. How do you foster the development of a voice in a student who does not have high self- esteem? You encourage them to do the best for their body and mind and work on their self-image through the development of the person as a whole and the beauty of their individual voice.
How do teachers approach the subject? Approaches vary, but body image in terms of overall health and athleticism reinforces the idea that singers need to be vocal athletes. Your body is your instrument, take care of it as such. An athlete takes care of their body, is fit physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A singer should also strive to do so to be the best they can be.
The most important thing for a teacher is to encourage students to think about how they take care of their bodies. A performer’s appearance has always been important and in many cases, determined the repertoire that they sang, William Neil, University of Oklahoma Vocal Chair. Great voices are rare and should be nurtured and developed carefully at their own pace and own time in a friendly and supportive environment. The discovery of what repertoire each voice is meant to sing is a quest for the teacher and singer alike. Does physical appearance play a role sometimes? Unfortunately, yes. Does personality also factor in? Absolutely.
Finding the drive to be fit- emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically to have a singing career can be guided and encouraged by the teacher but ultimately the decision of the singer. How do you help your students approach their self-image? What do you as a student find the most valuable from a teacher in regards to your self-esteem?