Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tension Troubles

An open and tension free moment!

We stand, we lock, and then we try to sing! The hardest thing in the world is to be able to free up one's body to sing standing relatively still, and on the same spot.

I have searched all my teaching career for the trick, or the key to unlocking the body so that it can use it's natural processes to allow a voice ease, flow and a relaxed delivery. I think, after all these years it has finally dawned on me that the ability to unlock one's physical movement and allow said ease and flow starts in the brain. Tension in the mind's twin brother, is tension in the body, and music only 'soothes the savage breast' that wants to be soothed. That is why one of my teaching maxims is ;
Breathe - Think - Sing

Note the 'Sing' is the final bit of the equation. The other two vital parts, are the 'person' bit. The 'Sing' only happens when the 'person bit' is contented and settled.

Many of my singers suffer from wound up tension which is like a deadly toxin in the singing system, and this tension stems from many roots, psychological, emotional and neurological - meaning, I suppose, how we are hard-wired as a personality.

The 'obsessive' singer is driven by a blind, or at the very least, blinkered need to succeed at any cost - result - Tension. The 'worried' singer suffers from such fears of failure they attack everything they sing with all the aggression of an ill disciplined tiger cub - result - Tension, and the overly 'competitive' singer is so afraid of not winning they work physically much too hard - result - Tension.

How we live and play out our life spills over into our singing, and either enhances or detracts from our performance. The wonderful thing is, that if we learn to control some of these excessive personality traits for the sake of our vocal health, that also spills over into daily life, and very much for the good.

So, without performing a lobotomy, for which you will be greatly relieved to hear, I am as yet underqualified, how can I as a teacher help to reduce this tension, and let the pure and unadulterated voice appear ?

The tactics are different for every individual, sometimes it can be as simple as laughter, moving around the room is useful, touch is very settling for some singers, and lying on the ground is another, so the body is completely supported.

What I cannot tackle in the same way, or so easily, is the psychological stuff. If the singer is determined to believe that negative thoughts, or emotional blockages are not causing the paralysing tension problems, and thus address those things, then I am at the end of the proverbial road.

As you can imagine, I have a few students who suffer from some of these tension problems. They are challenging, both for me, and more importantly for themselves.

If I could wave a magic wand I would disconnect the brain, and reconnect the body......

It will never happen, these things are sent to try a 'doing her best' singing teacher, who is, after all, only human!

Now Reeeelaaaaxxxx........breathe out Ooooooooooo

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