Monthly Archive: September 2014

There is freedom within

I have this tendency to try everything, at least once…I’ve wanted to sing in an a capella group for ages, but I never found the right people to start with. So I decided that hey, I join maybe an existing one. And so last Monday I went to audition. I don’t really know what to say about it. I found myself in a place that is just not for me. The question is why do I keep doing the same mistake all over again?

I mean it’s fine that the conductor had a classical training, it’s also fine that all the other singers had a classical training too. It’s also fine that they will sing the whole autumn classical. Although apparently they have “lighter” repertoire too. The question is again, what was I doing there?

I tried to be open minded and go like, well, will see, you don’t know until you tried and so on.

About the audition. Well, the lady asked me to sing any song. So I sang any song: I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…(yes, well, the topic of this post I guess). Few things that she said was as follows, that the song didn’t show much range. True, but she asked me to sing any song, not to show off my range…second, that I was belting and my breathing was like in belting. At that point I stopped listening. Don’t know about you, but I tune out when I disagree with someone, but am not willing to argue, because I see there is no point. Just to be clear, I was far from belting. Didn’t think that I even used a heavy mix, anyway.

Then came the actual testing part, the lovely A vowel up to the skies. I stopped at a C# two octaves above middle C. I know that there is more, but not with the A…Plus I really did not see the point. I mean just out of interest of course you can test how high and low can you go, but you’d need to consider a few things, like the fact that it’s a new situation. Just met the person.There is also the part where you need to think about with what exercise do you test, the A might not be the best option if you want to test the highs and lows. It is a great tool to see if you can connect the registers.

What I felt was that I was not good enough, that I was judged. Yes, I know, it was an audition, but you can do that on so many different levels, judging that is. I was not according to the classical standards. Hey, after all I’m a pop singer. It’s alright you can call me negative or whatever. Or that my ego can’t take criticism. That might be true too.

It’s not that I did not make the group. I did. Yet later on in the practise session, I was thinking all the time what am I doing here. Not because I couldn’t sing the high soprano part. It just felt completely wrong. Not because the piece we practised was classical. The week before I actually had my first “real” lesson in classical singing. I like classical music. I just couldn’t help comparing the two, the lesson and this situation that I was in. On the lesson I felt at ease, my voice was flowing effortless, I didn’t have to do anything extra. My larynx was free. Here at the practise, I was lost, I sang with a too hight larynx in an airy head voice. Not good. Of course I do realise a private lesson is different to a group practise, but still…

I do have a point to all this. It’s not about the drama of oh why is everything against me, why can’t I find people with whom to sing with. The point is I’d need to stop looking for answers from the outside. All I need is, is inside of me. And no, it doesn’t mean that I can never ever work with others, that I should become a hermit. I mean, that the answer to whatever I am searching for lies within.

Frankly I do not know if I’ll go back to the group. I feel that the timing is wrong, I should focus on finding my own style, instead of trying to adapt myself into a group that has already a style. Plus my classical training is really at the beginning, so it might not be a good idea.

So what is belting, well it’s a different technique than mix singing. I can’t really belt that well. You need to anchor your body and your neck. According to some scientist it can only be done on certain vowels. And on certain heights. It is not taking your chest voice to the skies. And it is not yelling, although you might mistake it for that. Here a bit more info:

And if I’m not mistaken you can have a mix-belt version too, which is really a heavy mix, that sounds similar, but how you produce it, is different. I guess I’ll need to find out more about belting. 😀 And no, belt doesn’t mean chest voice.

Idina Menzel seems to be belting at the end of this ( although she seems to have a bit of a trouble with it, it’s not easy)


Start singing today

Singing is good for your health. I will not refer to any studies, there are many at least about the benefits of choir singing. Okay, here is one article :

But any singing is good for you.  You know the days when you feel like nothing is working and you just want to hide in your bed and eat chocolate? Can’t say that that’s not a good option…As we go into autumn, I assume there will be more of those days coming up. But instead of buying kilos of chocolate, I suggest you try singing. I know, now your mind might go, “WHAT?! No chocolate?!” Then in a second: “I can’t sing, I have the voice of a crow. ” Do it anyway, no matter what your inner critique is saying. There must be 10 or 15 minutes a day when you have no one around and you can sing. No, the neighbours don’t matter, it’s again your inner critique speaking, coming up with excuses. You don’t have to be loud anyway. Sing!

What I notice when I start to sing is that I forget all my worries. I focus on the song, the lyrics, some silly melody. I might not really sing anything in particular, just sort of hum, or try to come up with a new melody, basically anything.

Again, your inner critique might say, yeah, it’s easy for you to say sing, you have a voice or whatnot….I repeat myself, I didn’t always have a “voice”. I worked years to dig it out and I still continue with the work. So just give it a rest, stop comparing you to me or any other persons. Do this for yourself!

While I sing, my thoughts don’t trouble me, there is nothing else, except the singing. It is sort of like meditation. I do not know if it’s because I focus or breath “better”, but I find myself invigorated after I sang. I feel awake and alive. According to the studies, singing helps with stress, depression and even loneliness. I agree at least with the depression part, you can’t really be depressed when you sing. Even if you are singing a depressing song, there is some shift in you that I can’t really describe. You feel better if you sing.

Maybe change your meditation practice into singing? Do both? I don’t know. You can sing in the shower or while washing the dishes, planting tulips for next spring. Just sing anywhere and anything. Even on the streets.  Try it, just for a week. Trust me, you can’t really hurt yourself unless you are trying to scream your head off… Join a choir. Learn a song that you always wanted to learn. Find a teacher if you want to learn more. Just sing. Don’t overthink it.

Still too self conscious about your voice, just look or actually listen to Bob Dylan. I really think he is a terrible singer if you think about technique and timbre  and so on, (sorry all you Bob Dylan fans) but he sings none the less!  Forget about the idea of sounding “good”, just sing!