We finished our six months together with some simple exercises. In one we passed a sound around our small circle (just six of us by the end), supporting the person before and after us, but also enjoying our minute in the spotlight. In another we improvised sounds in turn before mixing it all up in a soundscape (the only word that fits!) at the end.
We all reflected on what we experience when singing now, how we have changed since the start, and how we feel about our voices. This last question challenged a few of us. Personally, it’s a see-saw. Some days I love the purity and flexibility of it. Other days I despair at it’s unpredictability and croakiness. But I do, quite quickly now, always appreciate whatever comes out is interesting and cool and me.
The next step in this journey is to (gently!) strengthen and train this wild animal of sound in me so we can work together :-)
Sometimes I sing softly and I make a pure note – sometimes all I can manage is a croak of breath. There doesn’t seem to be a reason – it might be something to do with trying too hard.
I’m starting to experiment with the techniques I’ve learnt in the workshops on real songs. I’m finding songs in books and playing the chords on guitar whilst singing the melody. My voice is definitely stronger in the mid-range where most songs live. I’m very happy with this, after all I didn’t set out to be an opera singer, I wanted to sing my own songs at a local open mic in my own voice. Authentic voice is what it’s all about.
Went to see Jools Holland in Middlesborough last night (“They say you play here twice in your career, once on the way up, once on the way down – it’s great to be back!”)
It was great, though the hall probably wasn’t big enough for a full RnB orchestra. Marc Almond appeared as a guest (slightly manic, but a great voice), along with some young blood and Ruby Taylor, who had an enormous, beautiful voice.
What they all had was stagecraft. They sang with skill, but they involved the audience too, all in different ways. Making a connection – is that what music’s all about?
We were practicing in small groups making spontaneous noises across the full spectrum of our voices, with one person leading and the others copying. Kind of like an echo. We were encouraged to use our bodies to express these noises too. So afterwards I told the teacher I found opening my arms made me feel more operatic, gave me more volume. Something must have clicked in her mind, because she pulled the whole class to the other end of the room, and asked me to make these spontaneous noises and the whole class would respond together.
So I did. I started with some quieter easier things, but it was such an adrenaline rush I was soon squeaking and croaking and bellowing and generally having the time of my life – and the whole time these other eight people are doing the same noises and body movements. It was such a rush. Afterwards I felt so indulgent, like a child, and we all took it in turns to have a go.
A massive step forward for all of us. I mean, there are some seriously shy people in the class, but they were up there, man, giving it what they had. It was amazing.
And to top the evening off, I asked another indulgence of them – I read them a poem I had written that was inspired by the class. I’ve never read my poems to a group of people before. They really enjoyed it, and I was so proud of myself.
My God, this reads like I’m like fourteen again or something :-) I’m reclaiming my adolescence!!!
It’s the end of the third series of workshops for me tonight – I can’t believe how quickly they pass. I’m going to do another 6-week block. Singing and writing are intertwined for me somehow. They are both about expressing myself, working out who I am, recognising and using emotions as they arise… I imagine my desires to learn the piano and write songs and play guitar all come from the same place.
I’m starting to feel divided though – working (nearly) full-time and trying to write and sing and learn music and (most importantly) see my family – it all takes energy. Sometimes I catch myself in scarcity thinking rather than abundance.
Abundance thinking has brought me this far – I don’t want to stop doing that now!
Oh yeah – I got a ticket pretty close to the front for the Springsteen concert at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium – now there’s a role model ;-)
I so nearly didn’t go again last night – I was tired and emotional and I just wanted to curl up at home. But I remembered something my teacher said, that the lessons can be supportive and relaxing if you let them be. So I went with that attitude and I’m glad. It was another wonderful session. At the end the six of us who were there stood in a circle and took it in turns to explore the noises we could make. Each of us improvised two long breaths of sounds. It was really beautiful. And to think four months ago we couldn’t look each other in the eye and sing at the same time :-) Wonderful.
... the class stepped up a gear! Last night was great, we explored moving between head notes and chest notes and belly notes. Perhaps the rest did me good too, because I was much more into it. I also made some cool noises! Relax back into it then…
I’m still muddling through on this one – I don’t feel I’m learning as fast as I could be with these workshops, but at the same time they have definitely helped release my singing voice.
I’ve borrowed a book from the library for teenagers who want to improve the technique of their singing – Xtreme Singing, with these two deeply annoying cartoon characters – and I’ve started going through it. I reckon I can pick more up outside of class and ask her questions as I go.
I’ve paid for three more, so let’s see what she has to show me.
I am inclined to not go this week, for all sorts of reasons. I might have gone far enough down this route for the moment. I’ll give it another week.
My singing course is great, but so far we haven’t learnt to sing in the way I meant when I posted this goal. So what do I need to do to be able to say to myself, I can sing now? I could always sing… it’s just now I’m more confident, and when my voice cracks I laugh it off. Do I want to go for skill as well as confidence? Do I still want to sing to other people, or is it just for myself? I need to mull this over.