Find your voice. Find your power.
by Vielka Kelly-Weiss, Founder of Young Singers Academy
Imagine presenting yourself in front of an audience feeling and looking poised and polished, singing out with a clear, powerful voice. How would that ability influence your life? Your life as a young child?
As a voice and music teacher, I’ve seen how children decide around age 7 whether they’re a “good” or “bad” singer and how it impacts their freedom to fully be themselves. I’ve seen 70-year-olds carry the emotional burden of having been told not to sing in elementary school and how it has dimmed a rightful part of their being. With the rise of singing contest shows, the decline of music education in New York City and a big information gap around voice instruction for children, I’ve also seen how many feel singing is a “talent” possessed by the few. I’m on a mission to change these narratives by giving young singers the tools they need to build confidence and let their inner light shine.
My Singing Journey
I was one of the lucky kids who felt “good” about my voice. My family was musical and had encouraged me to sing. In 5th grade I landed my very first solo in my religious school choir. I didn’t realize this was going to be a huge moment for me. You see my shy, nerdy, self-critical younger self had never felt like she fit in for many reasons. My parents were divorced which was unusual at the time, I was severely asthmatic and sick often with multiple hospital stays, and had a highly sensitive nature. I only had 2 friends and had been quietly ostracized daily at lunchtime by classmates. Now here I was, about to take center stage, in front of them as well as a large audience of adults.
Although my heart was racing, as I stepped in front of the mic into the blinding spotlight onstage I felt a calm wash over me as I channeled my intentions. I sang the slow beautiful melody I cherished: “In my life, Lord, be glorified.” Although I was nervous, something magical happened. A voice that I didn’t know I had within me, drew in the audience in a palpable way. I could feel their energy and they could feel mine. Within that exchange lay an almost mystical kind of connection that I previously hadn’t known was possible.
That solo became the beginning of a lifelong musical journey that helped me find my people, my friends, even my husband. The journey of finding my voice – literally and figuratively – is neverending. But it’s in the doing of this vocal work, the practice and creating itself, that I’ve learned countless life lessons and strengthened my body, mind, heart, and spirit. Curiosity. Courage. Connection. Consistency. Competence. Creativity.
Our singing voice is our human birthright. I encourage you to continue to develop and refine yours – especially when you are skeptical and insist that you don’t have what it takes – and see how the process connects you to a type of freedom and power that permeates all parts of your being.
And here’s a well-kept secret…it’s still scary. It’s still challenging to put myself out on the stage and into the world. As I write this for you, I have moments of doubt. The difference is that now I’ve got 20 years behind teaching voice and the evidence of the potential and impact is undeniable to me. I’ve seen the tears and pain of adults who continue to judge their voice and don’t sing, and I’ve seen the tears of joy and absolute beams of pride when people break through their previously held beliefs. The stakes are too high for humanity to stop singing or assign it to the “talented” few.
I invite you to sing through life. For me, it has opened up worlds of wisdom, strength, reflection, empathy, and more. Every day I see anecdotal and scientific evidence that the universal language of song unites and keeps us sound. Let’s support our children who need a healthy outlet for expression as they face life’s tests.
Claim and reclaim your voice.
If you can talk, you can sing. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.
You have unlimited potential. Step into your power.
Challenge the idea of talent. Like everything, singing is a learned skill.
Deliberate practice wins out over natural ability.
Lacking confidence? Fake it until you make it!
Remember, awesome takes practice.
About Vielka Kelly-Weiss:
Vielka is a passionate educator, contralto, and mother. She is the founder of Young Singers Academy nurturing confident voices for life through K-12 online and in-person private and group singing lessons. Her playful, unique, step-by-step program proven over 20 years develops powerful singing and speaking. Building confidence, creating a meaningful connection with yourself and others, and achieving break-throughs from a young age is what Young Singers Academy is really about.
As a former Global K-12 Music Specialist at The Juilliard School, Lead Teaching Artist at Carnegie Hall, and Head of Music at the Metropolitan Montessori School, Vielka is an experienced music teacher, musical director, choral director, voice teacher, piano teacher, workshop presenter, curriculum and assessment writer, board member, and arts administrator. A classical contralto, she has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the United Nations. Her students range from beginners to Broadway professionals, and she is currently training voice teachers of young singers in her approach.
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