“The Art of Singing”

Because I was an artist for thirty years, I see so many correlations of art to music. I love the concept of my voice having a “palette” of sounds.

Lately, I have become very aware of the sounds my voice produces. My voice teacher, Peaches, has really helped me to find those variations. It truly has been inspiring for me to discover breathy choices, or smiling moments when I sing.

In only a few weeks, it will be one year since I began working with Peaches. I wrote about my first lesson on Post #74 My Mid-life Turning Point.

The “art of singing” includes one of my favorite “art tips,” which applies to so many areas of my life. That would be my statement that “less is more.” When I was an illustrator, simplicity was always preferable to over-working my paintings.

When I was younger, I sang with abandon without really hearing myself as I sang. Passion was expressed with volume; I sang in higher keys and loudly!

When I learned to sing more softly instead of belting things out, it was a revelation for me. There are delicate tones in music, just as there are in a painting!

Certainly, singing is extremely complex, especially while I am playing my guitar. One of the areas that I am trying to improve upon is where I choose to sing my words.

I like the metaphor that singing my song is like “singing while on a conveyor belt.” I must always “move along” with a song. Sometimes I am moving comfortably and sometimes I wait – but there is always movement. If I fall behind, I “hop on” somewhere else. Sometimes I jump ahead, but always the song moves along.

Perhaps that is why I sometimes feel more comfortable singing with my guitar than with an arrangement. I control the movement of “the conveyor belt” and I am not focused on simply figuring out where to sing with my arrangement’s “predetermined” movements!

However, while playing my guitar there is a lot of “working memory” going on with keeping track of chords, lyrics, melody, and “the vibe.” I want to share about “the vibe,” which is another word for the mood of a song.

Trust me, when I began singing I did not give much thought about what the lyrics truly were saying. I knew I had sad songs and happy songs and I always loved to carry their melodies. However, in the past, I would sometimes think about something else while I was singing.

It was when I learned from listening to recordings of myself that all of this changed for me. It became clear to me that without a connection to the lyrics, the vocals were bland and empty.

So I never sing anymore while thinking about what I’ll be eating for dinner! That is even if I’m hungry while singing, because I never eat anymore before performing. I learned that lesson as a result of a challenging performance following a dinner of middle-eastern food.

It is very funny to share what singers learn through experience! Little burps and tastes of spices do not allow for the focus needed to sing clearly!

I was told once that to open up my voice on higher notes I could associate it with the physical feeling of “throwing up” because that allowed the throat to “open up” more. That was definitely not an image conducive to adding “feeling” to my performance!

There is no more singing for me where I am thinking of something else other than the words I am trying to convey!

The mind, heart, and the meaning of the words come together for me now when I play music. Perhaps that is why I often have great difficulty keeping my eyes open when I sing. The imagery is so powerful for me that I often cannot stay focused on what is around me. I must close my eyes.

Here is what I am thinking of as I sing some of my songs:

On “So Real,” I remember well how I could not face waking up in the morning. As I sing those words I am flooded back with the memory of wishing I were dead as the realization of grief began each and every morning.

On “Beside Me Always,” I remember how my son would have his tousled hair upon my shoulder and how his tiny, warm body would lie upon me. I actually feel him very strongly, especially when I sing the words “longing for the soul I’ve kissed.”

On “Saying Goodbye,” I see images easily when singing the lyric line of “and the flowers have all died.” After Jason’s funeral our house was full of flowers and as they died the ache of grief only intensified.

On “Another You,” I see Cheryl’s face smiling at me – her eyes are twinkling with love.

On “Memory of Love” and “You Were There” my sadness over losing my mother incrementally makes it difficult to sing those songs. Tears in my voice can translate into choking.

On “How We Don’t Care,” I marvel at how I haven’t changed much and still act like I don’t care when someone in my family hurts me! Thankfully though, I don’t have any trouble saying, “I love you.”

I could go on and on. Even when I sing, “cover songs,” I find images that I can relate to so I can feel the words.

When I recently sang John Denver’s song “Looking For Space” his lyrics jumped out to me:

“When I think that I’m moving, suddenly things stand still. I’m afraid ‘cause I think they always will!”

Wow, was that ever true for me, lately!

Lastly, I’ve said this before, and I cringe as I say it again. But it is so true for me.

Singing is as intimate as kissing to me. My intimate thoughts and feelings are channeled right from my mouth into the listener’s ears. This truth has become even clearer when my breath and lip noises can be heard on recordings!

Being honest comes easily for me. I used to hate hearing my recorded voice.

With honesty, I can share that I love the sound of my voice now.



© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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