Monday, April 28, 2014

When you sing, forget everything you’ve ever learnt

In your singing lessons and choir warm ups you’re bombarded with exercises and technical advice about posture, breathing, enunciation, pitching, tension, placement and so on.


All good stuff. But when it comes time to sing you need to forget it all. Seems crazy? I’ll show you why it’s important.

what we learn in singing lessons

In singing lessons and choir warm ups the focus is on developing technical abilities to help you sing more easily and effectively. Each exercise is tailored to a specific area. When you do an exercise you are often focusing on just one area of singing whether it be breathing, phrasing or posture.

Keen singers will take these exercises and do them in their own time until they become second nature. It could be an exercise to increase your range or to help you sustain long phrases. But at some point you need to leave the exercises alone.

what happens if we try to apply exercises in performance

Remember when you first learnt to drive? It all seemed so overwhelming because there were so many things to remember and they all seemed to happen at the same time: clutch control, steering, looking in the mirror, switching your foot from the accelerator to the brake, changing gear. But slowly over time things started to become easier.

It’s the same if you try to apply the exercises you learn in singing lessons or at choir when you’re trying to perform a song.

If you’re trying to focus on too many things at the same time (breathing, posture, phrasing, mouth shape, head position, tongue placement, vocal quality, etc.) it will be overwhelming and impossible to express yourself through the song and actually sing well.

You need to trust that the work has been done beforehand, that the lessons you’ve been learning will take time to bed in but eventually will become second nature.

If you consciously think of everything you’ve been told in lessons and warm ups whilst trying to sing a song, you’ll be doomed. Forget it all, trust the process and get on with expressing yourself through song.

If things don’t work out as well as you’d hoped, there’s always the next singing lesson or choir rehearsal when you can go back to those exercises.

Chris Rowbury