Maybe you’re thinking about doing something special for yourself after the summer. Maybe singing in a choir is one of the options. After all…
Or as Stacy Horn wrote in her book “Imperfect Harmony – Finding Happiness Singing with Others”:
“Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than
drinking, and certainly more fun than working out!”
Here are a few hints to help you be a great singer:
1. Allow yourself
Believe in yourself and let the music flow through you. Allow yourself to be a great singer. Enjoy the compliments. Let go of that poor judgment from way back when, that teacher, parent, sibling that had the guts to tell you your voice wasn’t good enough. How dared they?! Open yourself up to the possibility that music is all around you, all throughout the cosmos (that’s what they called it universal music or harmony of the spheres in the Middle Ages). Music needs YOU to become an earthly experience, to become a “do” and a “la”, to become pitch, harmony, rhythm, a song! Allow the universe to make you the singer you wanna be. Simple as that.
No need to think hard about what you’re doing. No need to get all frazzled about the sheet music (btw – Sing Portland doesn’t use any). Allow the music to flow through you. And if you’re still insecure – stand next to a singer whose voice you like. Your larynx will simply copy what it hears and your neighbors singing-goodness will rub off on you. Ain’t that sweet?
2. Do what’s feels comfortable
Some teachers may have told you to relax, yet you gotta stand upright. Others may have told you to enlarge your chest, chin up, (figurative) penny between the buttocks… The truth is somewhere in the middle. You gotta have a little bit of muscle TONE in your body to let the sound come through. In the end what probably works best is to TUNE IN (pun intended:) with your body and do what feels right. Find out for yourself how it feels to have your knees unlocked versus locked? Which posture feels comfortable? You don’t want to a caved in chest, and don’t want to look like a rooster. How does your voice sound with the various postures? Practice some mindfulness here – observe and notice what feels right. And explore. Find the balance by moving through the happy medium. Know where it feels a little too extended, and where it feels a little too relaxed. Where does your posture feel natural?
What’s great about this way of exploring your singing body is that you don’t have to work so hard. You get to be you! It will feel easier than doing your best : )
Ah – the power of silence. The power of listening. There is a weird phenomenon that whenever I ask my choir to sing softer, the singers listen more and guess what… pitch improves, rhythms lock in, harmonies finetune. As if the singers are becoming more open to allowing to sing, to surrender to the music that flows through them, rather than working hard on being a song producer. As if better listening creates a healthier two way street between what we want to put out, and what the universe wants to let flow through us. Isn’t it great that we don’t have to do all the singing ourselves? We just have to clear our musical vessel. I dare you – you’re not just musical. YOU ARE MUSIC. And sometimes we need to get out of our own way a little more to discover how much music loves US!
By all means – breathe! My teacher Dan Buchanan made me aware of the three directions of breathing: forward/backward, sideways in/out, and up/down. It’s great to become conscious of the various directions in which we can breathe, observe it in others (especially young children are a good example).
Breathing can go a lot further than in- and exhaling. Breathe between major and minor, between consonance and dissonance. Between loud and soft, between high and low. In life we constantly dance between two opposites, or two extremes. Goethe said it so well:
In breathing, grace may twofold be
We breathe air in, we set it free.
The in-breath binds
The out un-winds
And thus with marvels life entwines.
Then thanks to God when we are pressed
And thank Him when He grants us rest.
Drinking water is a remedy to lots of issues. Not only good for the brain, kidneys, digestive system, muscles and skin. Also good for your entire singing apparatus. Your entire singing body, from head to toe. Have some water before you go to choir, and bring a bottle of water to rehearsal as well.
All in all, the golden rules that make life easier, also make singing easier. Do what feels right. Avoid what feels uncomfortable. We’re meant to have a good time here. Check out a choir near you and enjoy!
Sing Portland! is performing at the Farmer’s Market at Portland State University Saturday July 18th from 9-10am. You know us – we always have opportunities for you to sing along with the choir at our performances.
African Singing Party – July 25th
Saturday July 25th we’re giving away all the songs that we learned this summer. There will be a potluck of African food, a few drums to jam on. And of course lots of African songs to sing. Simple lines for you to chime in, so you can be absorbed in that big African sound. Kid friendly. Dog friendly.
At the party, donations will be collected for Rising Hope Foundation for whom we have hosted two benefit concerts before. We so enjoy the music from Africa, however, most songs are not linked to a composer. In other words no one in Africa would benefits from these gifts. Singing to raise funds for Rising Hope is a great way to give back to Africa. Join us!
Saturday July 25th 4-7pm in Creston Park (SE 43rd & Powell)
All our events are listed here.
Sing Portland! won’t rehearse during the month of August. This summer I’ll be spending a week singing with Ysaye Barnwell, who used to be a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock. She wrote two books “Singing in the African American Tradition”. Right up my alley: singing without sheet music, building community through song. Be ready for an abundant fall term of Freedom and Civil Liberties songs! Fall term starts Monday September 14th. Sign up here.
Sing Portland Kids! launching next fall
Come to a demo class of this unique parent and child choir July 25th, August 22nd or September 12th. See events calendar for times and locations. Join us at the LAUNCH PARTY with special guest Mizz Pearl Saturday September 26th 9am – 12 noon. Weekly classes for babies (up to 24 month olds), young children (2-5 year olds) and school kids (6-10 year olds) will start in October with the fabulous Jenna Dalton. Classes are held in SE on Saturday mornings, and in NE on Wednesday mornings at Heart in Hand Preschool. Check out all the details at the Sing Portland Kids website.
Until we sing again,