The ear is a funny thing, which I can say now after a lot of observation; because it's pretty clear to me that singing teachers, whether they know it or not, are messing with it. As evidence, I cite the curious things which happen in the voice studio.
What am I talking about?
The student is breathing, feeling every muscle in the body lift, the spine lengthen and the rib cage open. Vowels are played with for a long while, over the course of weeks, months even, and when the tone starts to get focused, clear, beautiful—so present you could touch it, the "look" appears. It's always the same look. The oh-my-god-does-it-really-feel-like-this look.
We stop, and upon inquiry, feelings of openness, vulnerability, and self-consciousness are reported.
This is naked singing.
It's as though the sound itself, or the means by which is produced, makes one feel exposed, raw, far too open for comfort sake, yet incredibly alive. It's a heady experience, and takes some getting used too. And all we are doing is working with vowels. But such is the power of sound when it innervates rather than enervates. When it stimulates the ear, which then opens.
My teacher described this as feeling like a house with all its doors and windows thrown open. Yes, we can see you. Yes, we can hear you. That's what you want, right? To have a voice? That's what it's all about.
You have to lift up—and I mean physically—to a very different place than the one you normally occupy when you are talking during the day. When you start doing this all the time when you sing, you may have the sense (again, another feeling) that there is something Platonistic about it. You know, the philosopher who believed that this world was a shadow of something greater? It's like that. Singing calls out the real.