I’m the first to admit it: choir doesn’t have the sexiest image. If you cast your mind back to your high school days, if you were rushing to put your name on the sign-up sheet for choir, it was probably all about the singing and nothing whatsoever with the thought that joining choir was going to do wonders for your love life!
But there is an undeniable link between sex, love, and music. Look at ancient tribes all over the world conducting mating rituals with music and dance, girls fainting, back in the day, at the sight Elvis’ gyrating hips. Look at Mick Jagger, Barry White…
The link is there but I hadn’t really thought about it until I read a vocal improv review written by one of my students, Ken.
Ken joined Sing Portland! back in 2017. It was his first ever choir experience and a year later he started vocal improv too. It’s safe to say that it has made quite an impression:
“Vocal improv is quite an experience. It’s an altered state.
You have to be in the moment, spontaneous, you have to join others. It’s about personal creativity combined with the creativity of others. You have to learn to trust yourself and others with voice and sound. It’s a full body experience of voice and body movement, rhythmic movement.
It’s like making love. You can have your own experience, your own pleasure, your own orgasm.
But the pleasure gets enhanced when you’re joining in their pleasure and in they in yours! It’s synergy! It’s greater than the sum of the parts.
It’s spiritual, sexual, religious. It creates feelings. It’s a turn on!”
I admit I hadn’t looked at singing like that but reading Ken’s words, I see exactly what he means.
And the beauty of it is that it so accurately sums up the fluid nature of vocal improv — that is Ken’s experience, but it might not be the same for everyone. It might not be the same for you. Because vocal improv can be about whatever you want it to be. Religion, spirituality, sex…it’s up to you to find out what the music means to you.
But one thing is certain, like love and sex, making music is always better when you have someone to share the experience with!
This is why I’m so thrilled to announce that my buddy Bonnie Singer (yes, that really is her name!), is going to be joining me in co-facilitating my vocal improv classes.
Bonnie is a wonderful singer and improv artist with 30 years of experience in jazz improvisation. She says:
“Vocal Improvisation sets me free of the constraints inherent within a performance situation. I’ve experienced through vocal improv that we all discover aspects of our musicality, trust, personality, generosity, creativity, and the ability to listen closely to each other. We can let go and give to the music what it needs rather than what we need to give.
It’s a powerful shared experience that fosters relationships and builds community.”
As a teacher, vocal improv is all about freedom from the rigidity of our professional training. For students it’s about creativity, confidence and fun. But the common thread in vocal improv, whoever you are, and whatever your background, is community: it’s about coming together for a shared experience and connecting with other people. Just like love. Just like sex.
Vocal improv — it never allows me to become complacent.
Just when I think I know where I am with my music, how to talk about it, how to feel about it — along comes someone — whether a fellow teacher, like Bonnie, or a student, like Ken — who makes me look at singing and improv in a whole other way. And that is truly exciting.
Join me, Bonnie (and Ken!) for Sing Portland!’s weekly vocal improv classes to find out what music means for you.
Not sure if you want to improv yet? We also have two choir rehearsals a week, and we’d love to see you there!