Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Losing Control".

Most singers talk about seeking greater control over their instrument. Thats actually the opposite of what I coach and not at all how the best singers think about their voices. But an honest misunderstanding of what we do as singers.

Control is something we want to feel we have over our voices so that the notes we hit are "true", the pitch is "correct" and the tone "pleasing".
Yes, of course we want all that and more, but when we focus of "control" of our voices as our goal we actually limit what is possible!

All kinds of problems crop up when singers are focused on "control" as their goal. The first of which is a potentially clenched throat with muscles that are straining and pushing on the chords to create sound.
(That's why I use the tongue out during the "sigh" or AAAAAAHHHHHH exercise in this first of The Basics of Singing Video's, it allows us to get used to the neck muscles letting go and relaxing during the process of making tone).

Diaphragm muscles that become tense during the process of breathing are also an unfortunate byproduct of seeking control in our singing. Thats the kind of "support" that leaves us tired out and exhausted in the process of making music. Without a relaxed diaphragm everything a singer is trying to do it in jeopardy.
Thats why we focus on filling a balloon or inner tube around our torso (just under the rib cage) as we fill up with air, (see video),and completely relaxing as the air leaves our body (and the imaginary balloon deflates), with no squeezing or pushing involved at all.

Eventually the open "sigh" with a relaxed diaphragm can become the template for all of our vocalizing and I recommend singers work with this exercise at the top of any warm up session before singing.

We think our job is to "sound good", "sing well" and have "good pitch".
Sure, but all of those are byproducts of good technique and focusing on much more useful stuff.

Our job as singers is to be able to "feel" the lyric, "inhabit" the melody of the song and express the emotions that the material creates, so that our audience can go on their own journey with us.

But how are we going to be open and available and free to express the music when we are busy pushing, straining and seeking "control" of our voices?
Thats the wrong message to be sending our body and indeed a limiting way of working our instruments.

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