Monday, 13 August 2012

inhibiting the body

Watching a singer on TV this evening, I'm suddenly struck by something obvious which suddenly seems new. I notice how she moves her hand, her expressions, how, despite the fact that she's performing and no doubt has made some conscious decisions about how she may think she wants to look, you can still see that quite a bit of what she does is not manufactured.

And then I see it, clear as day - that the whole body is an integral part of your singing voice. And it knows exactly what it wants to do; how it wants to sway, or move its hand, or raise an eyebrow. That knowing doesn't have to be studied, or learnt, or practised. In the same way that people who are not dancers dance beautifully and perfectly when they think no-one is looking, the knowledge is already there, innate. We're born with bodies primed to move and sing and dance. And then we block it all off, stuff it all up, with culturally learned self-consciousness. And then we try to 'learn to sing' or 'learn to dance', focussing on exercises and techniques, trying, trying, trying, forever pushing with the mind.

I suddenly saw that I know this. That I've watched my hand move out as I sing, and that I wouldn't let it move out if I was singing with someone else in the room. Never mind singing lessons, or looking up technique on the internet - how do I get myself, mentally and emotionally, into that place of knowing? How do I stop  self-consciousness from stopping my body from doing its natural thing?

Earlier in the day, I'd noticed that because I was a) tired, and b) sure that no-one could hear me and judge me, my voice had been completely clear and strong, as I'd noticed it hadn't been when we had someone staying in the house (even though I knew rationally that they weren't actually listening at all). I realised that my friend Lorna Penney's idea of 'the push' was much more subtle than I'd previously understood. The push, in this situation, is perhaps an unconscious desire to 'sound good', or 'hear improvement', and it subtly tightens up the whole body. Desire and striving tighten up the vocal chords in some subtle way, at the same time as inhibiting the body's natural movements stops an overall bodily flow.....


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