Thoughts on How to Sing with Ease
We are so accustomed to the tensions we carry throughout the day and while we sleep, we hardly notice them. Yet they have a powerful impact on everything we set out to accomplish. We may have a strong desire for some goal or creative act, yet there is something stopping us. What is that something? And is it changeable?
The Alexander Technique provides a means for uncovering that something. With tools for becoming more aware and the guidance of the teacher’s hands, change is not only possible but inevitable. Even a small change in held tension can create a world of freedom in our breath and voice. Perhaps frightening at first––as change can be alarming––we will gradually experience an improved use of ourselves, sense of health, alertness and enhanced performance in all activities.
Can we be willing to step away from all we’ve held as true? Willing to meet ourselves afresh, no matter how odd or dangerous it might feel? Our feelings, the only guide we get, may be untrustworthy. Can we, not sure of anything, allow space for the next breath to come as if opening to an expansive and pleasurable yawn?
Our breath keeps us alive, moves through us all day and all night. Yet many of us keep our breath in a tight cage and restrict this flow. And we may not even know this. Letting go, a must for good singing, can feel wrong or scary. Our central nervous system managing us will resist change, even if for the better. Yet by inviting small changes, slowly new and better habits get formed. To sing freely, many things need to happen at once, almost like juggling. And like the juggler, it’s best not to focus on each particular part. With more trust, we learn to get out of our way and the brain will do its magic.
Have you ever been shamed about your voice? I was, and many students I’ve worked with, have been told to shut up, you’re out of tune, you’re too loud or too soft. It can trigger a protective mechanism, building up something that feels like an immovable wall.
We aren’t wired the same. Don’t have the same sensitivity to criticism. Some really do have a tougher skin. This makes a huge difference in our reactions to situations like having to speak or sing in public. And if you’ve had a negative or traumatizing experience, it can feel impossible to be in front of a crowd.
In my early twenties, I wanted desperately to be a singer-songwriter. Yet I couldn’t sing in front of people more than five minutes before losing my voice. Convinced I had throat cancer as it was so painful at times to use my voice, I was disappointed when the doctor could find nothing wrong. If nothing was wrong, then what was wrong with me?
Starting a workshop with this story, many faces have smiled in recognition. I am not the only one with such an experience.
If you are curious to explore this phenomenon deeper, contact me and let’s begin aninvestigation and journey towards change. To singing with ease.
1. The vagus nerve, the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system and controls body functions such as digestion, heart rate and immune system, and rest and digestion when the body is relaxed. It basically undoes the work of the sympathetic division after a stressful situation. Our automatic nervous system comprises of two parts: the sympathetic––that activates fight or flight response during a real threat or perceived danger and parasympathetic––that restores the body to a state of calm.