Finding your voice – the necessity of singing: Katie Kat at TEDxJerseyCity

Finding your voice – the necessity of singing: Katie Kat at TEDxJerseyCity


Translator: Nadine Hennig
Reviewer: Mile Živković Hello. My name is Katie Kat and I am here today to talk
to you about something that might make you uncomfortable: your singing voice. But I want to assure you that it is
not something to be embarrassed about. In fact, I want to encourage you all to sing far more often,
regardless of your perceived skill because it has been my experience that singing is
an incredible gift we all have. It increases our self-awareness,
our self-confidence and our ability
to communicate with others; it decreases stress, comforts us
and helps us to forge identity and influence our world. I grew up being severely bullied. I was prank called,
I had things thrown at me. I was called “die-head” because of a mole
that I had on my forehead that I used to call my “beauty mark,” but I had it removed when they made
me believe that I was not beautiful. I am not sure when it started, but somewhere along the line
I started humming, constantly, and though it got me more
unwanted attention at first, I could not stop
and eventually the humming turned into singing
that drowned out the world. Suddenly I had a superpower. The teasing began to stop
and people began to listen. I had a way to stand up for myself.
I could fight back. I had a voice and I could say all
of the things inside of me that I couldn’t find the word to express. Now, as a professional singer, the most common comment
that I receive is, “Oh, I wish I could sing.” My response is always, “But you do!” There are a great many of you out there who have had the best nights
of your life singing karaoke, though it admittedly may have taken
a dare and a couple of beers. And I know you sing in your showers because everyone sounds great in there and I know you sing in your cars because I catch you rocking out
in my rearview mirror and I get it. It is so freeing to revel unabashedly
in the amazing vibration that your body can produce. The human voice is incredible. Look up Jamie Vendera on YouTube. Videos of him breaking
a wine glass with just his voice, total over a hundred now, or look up Portuguese soprano
Ana Maria Pinto, who raised her operatic voice at a political street protest
in Lisbon last year, and became an icon for
personal strength and peaceful protest. If you think of the times
that you have been happiest, I bet you can name the songs
that you sang at top of your lungs. And I am sure you know very well the songs you’ve sung to yourself
at your lowest; the melodies you let rumble
in your chest, soothing the ache. We all sing for the things
that we don’t have the words to say, but our society has very
skewed views on the value of singing. Singing has become something
reserved for elite talent with money, producers, management, recording contracts,
concert dates, autotune, leaving the rest of us with distructive
self-criticism about our voices. And many of us believing,
“Well, oh, I’m just tone-deaf.” But tone-deafness is not
as widespread as you might think. Most people who claim to be tone-deaf are just unfamiliar with their voices. Most of our wrong notes are really
just the result of nervous tension. And that is perfectly understandable. Because the vocal folds
are incredibly tiny. They are only about the size of a dime. And they are inside of us, therefore
we can’t see it or touch it to understand how it works for ourselves. Combine that with
all of the self-criticism that the music industry makes us feel, and it’s no wonder
people will claim to be tone-deaf. But real tone-deafness,
or clinical amusia, only affects about 4%
of the total population. So, if you can recognize
and repeat this melody – (Singing) – I’m sorry, you’re not tone-deaf. And you can no longer use
that excuse with me. Like in infants’ primal scream, singing is instinctual and
necessary to our existence. The amygdala is the part of the brain
that processes music but it also processes emotion and basic biological functions
like pain and pleasure. Joy in singing comes from endorphins
released by the pleasure centers, and from oxytocin which
enhances trust and bonding. Studies have shown that singing
releases measurable levels of serotonin and can lessen the feelings
of loneliness and depression. And the breathing required in singing
makes it an aerobic activity. It brings more oxygen into the blood
and promotes relaxation. So, it’s no wonder that singers have a noticeably lower level
of cortisol, the stress hormone. And that can relate
to an increased immune response. And you do not have to be
an amazing singer to benefit. And the benefits increase with practice. Vocalizing helps you to become
aware of your anatomy. Like internal echo location, you can help your brain create
a map of your instrument which you then subsequently use to
build strength, endurance and flexibility. And that exercise alone
is good for your psyche. You learn to break down
internal roadblocks, when you learn to trust something
that you cannot see or initially feel. So, let me give you
an example of something that you can do to improve
your connection to your voice. It’s a warm-up but I prefer
to call warm-ups “making noise” because it implies a lot
less pressure to be perfect. So, all of you are going to make
this noise with me. (Noise with lips) It’s called “the lip drill.” Put your lips together, focus right
on the center and blow. Ready? (Audience makes noises) Right. We’re all in this together.
Let’s try it one more time. Ready? Breathe in. (Audience makes noises) Nice. Thank you all so much
for trying that with me. Let me tell you the very cool thing
you are actually doing. This is what’s refered to as a
“semi-occluded vocal posture.” It basically just means that
your mouth is partially closed. By putting the breath
pressure at your lips, you are decreasing the pressure
at your vocal folds and letting more air pass. This provides the folds
with more flexibility, so that you can move
through your range more easily. The added bonus is that the air
accesses higher resonance, or your sinus cavities, which is essential for helping your voice
to carry without becoming overtired. So, try some lip drills
and have a glass of water the next time your voice feels tired. Starting there, the possibilities
for your voice are endless because singing also has
some incredible superpowers. Now, I mentioned
shattering glass and leading protests but singing is also
becoming widely recognized in the medical community as well. The act of singing is used
to rehabilitate people who have lost the ability to speak
due to stroke or traumatic brain injury. Singing and speaking are processed
in different places in the brain with the exception
of the element of pitch. So, by putting pitch to speech, that brain-muscle connection
can begin to rehabilitate. Singing is also becoming
more widely recognized as a tool to help wake people from comas. Recently, one mother sang
her daughter out of a serious coma with Adele’s “Rolling in the deep.” And the “Baby Mozart” phenomenon
that has become quite popular has led research to determine
that babies actually prefer Bach, but also that premature babies
respond better to treatment and can go home faster when
recordings of their own mothers singing lullabies is played
in their incubators. And you all have this amazing superpower. And I encourage you to use it for the amazing things it can do
for your brain and for your soul. But if you are all singing, does that make
my job as a performer obsolete? Not in the slightest. You see, if you all
understand your voices, your brains have a better connection
to my performances. Singers develop a profound empathy
to any kind of verbal communication. When a singer watches someone sing, their brains react as if
they were doing the singing. The same thing happens when we watch
someone simply lift a glass of water. Our brains react as if
we were lifting that glass of water. It’s a phenomenon called
“mirror cells,” and it’s fascinating. As a performer, my world is
fraught with judgment and criticism, with talk about perfectionism,
and competition, and technique, but I hope that I can encourage
something more spontaneous and joyful. Singing affords you the opportunity to say all of the things that you cannot
find the words to express. And it is what you are expressing
that is the most important. You do not have to write
your own music and lyrics to sing. Reinterpretation offers
you the opportunity to say something deeply personal through words and music
that you identify with. With that framework already in place, you don’t have to search blindly
to express what’s inside of you, and you gain the opportunity
to learn about yourself. I want to move away from
this world of hypercriticism and to encourage a more encouraging world, where even an untrained voice feels secure to express their hearts
without fear of judgment. And I am making these points in memory of a beautiful young singer named Johanna, whose voice was taken
from this world far too soon, because Johanna’s last words to me were, “Can I talk to you?” But she and I never got
to have that conversation. I saw a lot of myself in her. Like me, Johanna felt that
she communicated best through her singing. And I serve her memory by encouraging
you all to sing far more often, so that none of us may ever
leave those things unsaid. We all sing for the things that
we don’t have the words to say. Let singing become
a part of your daily life: sing in the shower, sing in your cars, sing in the supermarket
and see if somebody joins in, chances are they will. If you have ever had
a song stuck in your head, you know how catchy singing is. Singing is a gift that we give
to ourselves and to one another. My gift to my little one will be
to help turn those primal screems into beautiful, powerful melody, and I am honored to give
this gift to all of you here today. This gypsy lullaby was
written by Anton Dvořák and is called “Songs my mother taught me.” (Music) (Czech) ♪ Songs my mother taught me,
in the days long vanished; ♪ ♪ seldom from her eyelids
were the teardrops banished. ♪ (Music) ♪ Now I teach my children,
each melodious measure. ♪ ♪ Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow
from my memory’s treasure. ♪ (Applause)

77 thoughts on “Finding your voice – the necessity of singing: Katie Kat at TEDxJerseyCity

  1. "most people who claim to be tone deaf are just unfamiliar with their voices. most of our wrong notes are really just the result of nervous tension"
    "You do not have to write your own lyrics to sing. Reinterpretation offers you the opportunity to say something deeply personal through words and music that you identify with. With that framework already in place, you don't have to search blindly to express what's inside of you, and you gain the opportunity to learn about yourself"
    love it.

  2. i can feel your passion through your speech and i thoroughly encourage you to continue following your passion and you're right , singing can help people get though bullying , i was bullied but through singing became confident in myself and so wasnt bullied singing is a true gift which all should use 

  3. I teach singing and I am very happy to know that these ideas, which I employ in my work, are surfacing all over the place. Singing is a human right and everyone should make it their own. Singing does not exist as a "thing" – it only happens when someone starts to sing. She is doing a good thing, telling people about the power they have, but do not always use. I love the idea of saying 'making noise' rather than 'warming up the voice' … it's true. Most people have wonderful noises that they make that simply don't have the "singing" label. Moving away from destructive self-criticism is the most important message!

  4. Alzheimer's patients often can still sing in stead of talk, especially if it is songs they knew in their youths. Also we have had reponses from non-responsive patients in hospice care in the last days of their lives.

    PS What a shame about the microphone she is using at the end when she sings Dvorzak and the mike can't handle the volume. Beautifully sung otherwise.

  5. hi guys, the greatest results that ive had was with the Bens Singer Blog (just google it) definately the most useful idea that I have ever tried.

  6. music heals when medication can't. I have epilepsy and I love music. When I was at school when my epilepsy started my education turned upside down but my music could never be taken away from me.

  7. Like you said people who have had a stroke can sometimes sing much better than they can talk. People who stutter can also sing fine even though when they talk they stutter. People often with neurological disorders have a good ear for music.

  8. Should probably fix the typo in the description that says "If there's room and it's appropriate add;" I don't think that is supposed to be there.

  9. Listening to your voice in a tape is horrible
    Makes you don't want to open your F mouth again
    Imagine hearing you own voice singing in a tape as a bad singer.
    I did thanks to this
    Well I suck

  10. I love singing, i just don't have what i call the sound space to feel i can use it to it's full potential. Sometimes i wish i could move to the middle of nowhere just so i could. Tell me i'm not the only one afraid of what the neighbors will think.

  11. As a vocal coach, I could not agree more. I laughed and almost cried listening to Katie Kat'speech. Let's sing guys, let's sing!

  12. Ah! What she talks about around 11 minutes (mirror cells) is something I noticed about myself! When I'm listening to music, especially many of my favorite songs, it's as if I'm warming up my voice without vocalizing.

  13. It can lessen loneliness and depression. The key word.. lessen but not enough to stop some singers from committing suicide. Having said that I'll take it. Depression is hard. I'll take all the help I can get.

  14. I bet she started singing when her bossom got big, no wonder the bullying stopped and people began to listen AND STARE!!!

  15. Хочется кушать, хлдоног пива… О чём эта недорсль вещает?

  16. aww <3 ..I sang in a couple groups when I was young and LOVED it..but stopped after a meanie schoolmate teased and bullied me over my (as she called it) "weird snow white voice" .. I started supressing my natural singing voice so much that I can barely hold a note as an adult..every once in a while,I really miss it..

    this is an inspiring talk. Thank you for spreading these ideas.

  17. Yeah nah, I took voice class in high school and both my girlfriend at the time, as well as my voice teacher, had this "anyone can sing given the proper instruction" mantra which they both retracted and apologized for after the semester was over and they were unable to get the results they expected from me. Fortunately I am a decent guitar player so no one asks me to sing, but yeah it's really annoying when someone comes along with the "everybody can (activity) with the proper instruction" because it's just not true or fair really

  18. Music is 70% hearing and 10% skill and another 20% effort and discipline to practice. Since so much of music is mathematical, in my 55 years as a musician, I would venture to say that I could teach 99% of the population how to sing or play the guitar if they will simply learn to listen. I don't think the wrong notes are always due to nervous tension. I suspect most of the time, it's due to not willing or able to hear the notes and find a way to hit them.

  19. Ah, the mic is not synced for her….I should think diaphramatic control would be a bit difficult with weight of child nestled therein womb…Much enjoyed her presentation from beginning to end.

  20. Thank you for sharing that beautiful, thought-provoking presentation. Your voice is incredible. I hope your family has the best of health and happiness.

  21. The ideas are worth sharing but starting and ending with hard luck stories is not real TED. So what about her mole? I almost stopped watching. It’s such a cliché. Every single person on earth has a hard life in a way that’s very personal to them. It’s the point of life apparently. So let’s share ideas and take more time exploring them and less time sharing how we feel sorry for ourselves.

  22. Katie!!! Brava fire child. I hope to stumble on you more. Best – Jen E.D Sing and Relax and Unleash the Hearts Academy. Combining Civic engagement and Artistry for a better tomorrow.

  23. Nice messages, very uplifting and fantastic voice.
    You remind me of the absolute love of my life, my choice of every day. Or is it I who sees her everywhere? Anyway, you are very beautiful. Excellent discourse.

  24. Cheers for this, I've been looking for "spiritual guide meditation" for a while now, and I think this has helped. You ever tried – Banulian Lonameron Breakthrough – (just google it ) ? Ive heard some interesting things about it and my brother in law got cool results with it.

  25. Music has always been a huge part of my life but I was too afraid to sing thinking I had a 'bad voice' recently I have started singing almost daily to my cat 🙂 it has been wonderful. My cat is sick and I am chronically ill. It really lifts me up and makes me laugh. My cat responds by purring and I through in a few high notes to startle him. Smoky jazz numbers suit my voice best I have found.

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