Monday, April 18, 2022

Why it’s important to set your voice free from time to time

Being in a choir and singing with others is very controlled. There are other voices to blend and balance with, and fixed harmonies to follow.

But from time to time I believe it’s important to really let your voice soar.

There’s a scene in the movie version of Cabaret (1972) where Liza Minnelli stands under a railway bridge, and when the train passes, she screams at the top of her voice.

There aren’t many times in polite society when we’re allowed to do this. Perhaps childbirth, or a large sporting event, or bungee jumping. But not much else.

It can feel like singing in a choir is a great opportunity to just let rip with your voice. But there are all sorts of checks and balances in place so that no one voice dominates. You can’t just sing out as loud as you like whenever you like.

However, I do believe (like Liza Minnelli) that it’s important to let your voice go from time to time. It’s therapeutic and cathartic, but can also reveal the real power of your own voice, and its innate quality. You may be surprised at what you find.

[ When you do get the chance to let rip though, be careful. You can be loud without pushing or straining your voice. If it hurts, stop. Think in terms of allowing the sound out, rather than forcing it. ]

If you spend all your time singing with others, you may not have ever had the chance to really let go and discover what your voice is capable of.

How and when can you truly let your voice soar?

It’s easiest when you’re on your own so you don’t feel that you’re being observed or judged.

Many people have discovered during the pandemic that singing at home on Zoom gives them just this opportunity. You’re supported and guided by the leader of the session, but since nobody else can hear you, there’s no need to worry about power or volume. Just let your voice go in the privacy of your own home.

Finding a wonderful acoustic can also help. Maybe a cave, pedestrian tunnel, cathedral, or empty building. When you’re alone in this space you can really feel the power of your own voice. If it’s a very echoey cavernous space, you will find that you need much less effort to let your voice fill the space. Hearing it come back to you allows you to experiment with different qualities and hear the results clearly.

And if all else fails, simply find a railway bridge and stand under it until a train passes.

You might also like to read:

How do you know how loud you should sing in choir?

Why being a confident singer is not always a good thing in a choir

Discover the joys of singing on your own

Chris Rowbury


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