Tension doesn’t help us sing. It keeps us from our purist, most beautiful sound. Singers need to be especially careful as we cannot replace our instrument, and long-term vocal tension leads to serious health issues that can keep us from singing all together.
As we study vocal technique, we’re constantly identifying tension in the body so we can relax it. Vocal coaches spend a great deal of time ensuring their students understand how it feels to sing correctly. We’re used to the process of physical tension and release but we’re often less aware of the other forms of tension we’re harboring. Tension can be defined as “mental or emotional strain; intense, suppressed suspense, anxiety, or excitement.” [Dictionary.com]
I first realized tension was cropping up when I heard myself apologizing in my voice lessons.
Remember our Pick-Me-Up for the Pessimistic Practicer? Liebman reminds us to “cultivate a feeling of neutrality rather than feeling good or bad every day about the practice session. It is objective, self-improvement type of work.” If we believe this than what need is there for an apology?
In this case, I was actively engaging in my work, challenging myself musically and I was willing to follow my teachers instruction. The truth of the matter was that my teacher had everything he wanted from me! I was apologizing because I subconsciously set a new standard – perfection. No wonder I felt bad! In this case the source of tension was the unrealistic expectation I’d given myself. My lesson was really fun once I accepted my teacher’s expectations for my lesson.
Singers are incredible people! It is an amazing gift to create art with your God-given talents. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to take the stage and communicate with other people. If you enjoy singing then do some house-cleaning this week! Identify tension in your musical life and let it go.
Often times I don’t share my recordings because they’re not perfect. Imagine that! I’m trashing that perspective because it hasn’t helped me any. My newest recording is a Geoff Gascoyne composition called “Missing You.” I sing my original lyrics on the recording. There is another section to the piece which I have not yet recorded. Check it out!
Artist Highlight: Geoff Gascoyne
Geoff Gascoyne is a great bassist. Originally from England, his eclectic performing career has provided opportunities to play with Dianne Reeves, Mulgrew Miller, Michel Legrand, Cyrus Chestnut and many more. Recently, he worked extensively for Jamie Cullum (playing, composing and arranging).
Goeff has a great website. One of my favorite features it is the Music Book page where you can download any of the 71 compositions he’s posted. I’ve found his compositions incredibly lyrical and I’ve had a lot of fun learning a couple in the past few months. It’s great that he’s sharing his music this way and I plan to learn more Gascoyne originals in the future! If you’re not familiar with his work please check him out!
Enjoy & Happy Practicing!