Why We Sing-Page 2
...mood that begets ‘singing to one’s Self’ is one key to unlocking that goal. Volume is only one factor of many contributing to the completeness of this resonance. Vocal talent and quality are not even a consideration. The psychosomatic satisfaction experienced from the release constitutes its effectiveness. Human vocal sound is the resonance of Self-Expression.
The BodyMind wants to sing in those moments when the Self is in a mood of satisfied acceptance. That mood appears to best express itself in the resonance of sustained vocal sound. Alone, in a satisfied mood, singing to one’s Self, one usually makes no judgment concerning the quality of singing, only that it feels good. It is the most effective means of expressing the emotional state of well being experienced at that moment. Singing to one’s Self usually happens when the BodyMind is preoccupied with activities that provide intrinsic pleasure. Think of the positive feedback one experiences singing while bathing or showering. There is neither too much nor too little stimulation. The BodyMind’s functional effectiveness is on autopilot, in a state of emotional tranquility.
I remember an experience while sitting in a major airport during an extended layover. Almost all seats in the terminal were filled with people. Some were reading, others were sleeping or just lounging in boredom. Across from me was a gray headed Afro-American lady sitting with her eyes closed. For no apparent reason she suddenly began to sing very softly. For a short moment I felt embarrassed that I was witness to such Self intimacy in a public place. She sang church hymns completely oblivious to anyone or anything around her. When time came for my departure I was reluctant to leave. I have never enjoyed waiting in an airport so much as that day. As I stood up to leave she opened her eyes for a brief moment and gave me a lovely smile. I leaned over and whispered my thanks and appreciation to her for allowing me to share in such an intimately beautiful experience of Self-communication. She only smiled and continued singing. I will carry that memory to my final breath. The mere thought of it brings a smile to my heart and a deep feeling of inner contentment.
Singing is a condition of supreme intimacy with the BodyMind Self. The vocal sound that emerges is as much a part of Self-Image as any visual reflection. BodyMind resonance is the audible manifestation of one’s Self-Image. Hence, the conjured up image of a happily preoccupied person engaged in stimulating activity, removed from judgmental environment, absently whistling, humming or singing to one’s Self. At such times the degree of Self-Esteem does not consider if the sound is good enough to share with others, only that it satisfies a deeply personal need. The mood that begets singing to one’s Self is a pleasurable compulsion and creates a tranquil state of being. Any voluntary attempt at singing reawakens the BodyMind’s memory of tranquility and begins a release toward that end. I believe singing fulfills a very basic requirement for complete BodyMind expression. Most BodyMind releases are strictly biological with minimal psychological involvement. Totally effective human vocal sound requires complete psychosomatic participation. Vocal sound is different from other biological responses but can be as compulsive as any other.
What prevents everyone from cutting loose when we sing the national anthem? Fear that a stranger will hear? Not wanting to attract attention? Not everyone participates when singing hymns in church. Why? I have seen normally articulate persons reduced to mumbling at the singing of a familiar Christmas carol, as if embarrassed that someone might hear their singing voice. Judgmental environment is counter-productive to spontaneous vocal sound.
Circumstances in recent years convince me that singing is not a selective talent allowed to some and not to others. I believe it is an inborn response within each of us; but for some it becomes blocked at an early age. Babies and children sing. If that ability is nurtured and continues past a certain age, we say it is a ‘talent for singing.’ For those not successful in continuing past that age we say they have ‘no vocal talent.’ Negative feedback from a judgmental environment at a very impressionable time has made them unduly Self-conscious of their singing voice to the point they no longer try when others are around.
Effective oral communication need not always have a listener. Sometimes it is enough to communicate only with the surrounding environment. That lady in the airport gave no thought to anyone around her. Since we are part of that environment we are, in essence, communicating with our Self. Those inhibited persons who loudly proclaim that they “can’t carry a tune in a bucket” are really admitting to Self-consciousness about their vocal sound. They are Self-programmed to believe they have no ability to reproduce what they hear.
Some years back I had an unusual learning experience with a fellow faculty member who wished to work on her voice as part of therapy in reassessing her Self-worth. Our first session was devoted mostly to posture and breathing with little attention to vocal sound. The second session quickly established what appeared to be an inability to match pitches. I played a five-note scale on the piano, reproduced it vocally, asking that she do the same. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “How do you make your voice go up and down like that?” In all the years of teaching with thousands of questions, that was a first! For the moment I ignored the question and began inquiring about her musical exposure during the formative years in the public schools. She confided that the sixth-grade music teacher assigned her to study period rather than have her in the mixed vocal ensemble.
I immediately initiated evasive tactics directing her attention away from conscious thought of singing and matching pitches. I asked her to sit down, lean her arms on the edge of the piano with her head down on her arms and her eyes closed. This way she shut off all visual awareness of her immediate environment. I began making vocal noises (much like a police siren) on the interval of a perfect fifth, asking her to join me. This continued in unison until we covered the span of an octave.
It is my experience that anyone can reproduce noise pitches, but when the word ‘sing’ is used, far too many scenarios completely change. As she began to feel comfortable I went up the scale one tone and she followed. We completed an entire scale with all pitches 100% accurate. Raising her head and opening her eyes, her smile was ear to ear. “Does that answer your question about how I, and now you, do that?” I asked. At a later session she sang a lovely rendition of Amazing Grace completely in tune. Change the focus of attention and perception also changes.
Once a habitual mind-set is securely Self-programmed words only make dents on the human shield of habit. If concentrated focus is not totally psychosomatic (combined BodyMind focus) the word-dents remain nothing more than what they originally were dents.
It is my experience that much of the vocal sound brought to me by young university students almost always has some kind of ‘false-face’ quality. Changing such a contrived response is not easy. My experience in accomplishing this is diverting attention away from what they think they hear. If you have ever heard a playback of your recorded voice you know what I mean. What you hear externally is not what you are habituated to hear internally. Many voice teachers tell students not to listen to their sound because it cannot be accurately heard. That’s like telling a portrait painter not to look at the picture they are painting. It is difficult for me to accept that the most sophisticated sound-producing instrument divinely created is designed with the inability to monitor its own sound. Inaccurate sound monitoring is nothing but Self defeating. To correct this misperception I use various tactics always keeping in mind that the diversion must be sufficiently stimulating to avoid what !
I refer to as “psychosomatic posturing.” That refers to the habitual BodyMind attitude believed necessary for sustained vocal sound. The most effective means of accomplishing this end is suggesting specific conscious body movements that divert attention away from auditory perception. It is almost fail-safe. I recall one student who released an incredibly beautiful vocal sound but only when braiding his pigtail behind his head while vocalizing. Such diversions allow the release of vocal resonance not experienced since childhood. But at that time the resonating body had not yet finished growing and maturing.
A lifetime hardly seems sufficient ..... to become consciously aware of the vast range of vocal resonance involved in the intricate process of reflecting the complete Self within each of us. Audible communication with one’s Self through the sustained emission of singing is more effective than merely talking to one’s Self. We may talk to ourselves in anger and sadness, but usually one does not sing when emotions are violent and in turmoil. Singing comes naturally when the BodyMind experiences oneness with Self and the cosmic universe. Then, all vibrations are in tune with Self and the Infinite. Singing is a vehicle of smooth transition between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Singing reflects a state of balance and a positive inner glow of contentment and equanimity. It is the audible resonant reality of our existence.
John Lennon Revised May 17, 2000
Anyone wanting to learn to sing can do that. Carl Stough proved that and instilled much of his teachings into myself. The issue is how long it takes and the many diversions in the way especially if it takes longer than one can reasonably set aside time and perhaps money for.
Speaking by the way is no different.
I hope the above article gives you more reason to learn to breathe better. If you breathe right you can sing or speak. If you sing or speak, even what you believe to be clear, you do not necessarily breathe right and you may leave yourself open to singing or speaking problems in the future..
I have developed special techniques gleaned from twenty years of trying to get MY singing voice back. They greatly accelerate the breathing development allowing a radical shift towards sound production that is virtually impossible without this strictly body centered approach.
I teach these techniques to massage therapists seeking Continuing Education Credits and to others wanting state of the art breathing development skills.
Click here to see
From a Breathing Times subscriber.
Subject: Article-"Why Do We Sing"
Greetings Mike! Thank you for sharing with me the wonderful article, "Why Do We Sing". It is well written and I will share it with my very good friend and voice teacher. Many thoughts in this article have been expressed by my teacher and my personal experiences relate so well to the truths in this article. A conductor I once worked with called singing, "A living emotion". When we are emotionally upset, singing is very difficult if not even impossible. Several years ago while attending a voice performance class, a woman found herself unable to sing. She had an argument with her husband prior to coming to class, I suggested she call him and ask if they could have lunch and talk through their problems. She was hesitant, but called him and came back to me beaming as he was pleased to hear from her. Her heart was happy and she found the release to sing quite beautifully that morning. The old expression kids would shout at one another, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me", is simply not true. We can damage others so much by our words and misdeeds of conduct. Words of kindness, gentleness and encouragement are soothing, often healing to the listener. Our world needs words of hope.
Some years ago my 15 year old son was quite ill in the hospital. Across the hall was a 2 year old baby boy, a drowning victim. He was on a ventilator and had been in the hospital over a year. He lay in a crib with just a diaper and rubber pants. He was a beautiful little boy and the family did not come around him very much. I went in to see him, his name on the wrist tag, was Matthew. How interesting it was to me that when I would stroke his little arm and brush his hair and call him by name that his breathing pattern would change, Mike. It was almost like a sigh. To me, his breathing pattern was an emotional response but they said he was brain dead. Witnessing the breathing pattern, called me to question the nurses but they gave no hope for his recovery. I have not forgotten that little boy and believe there is much much more to the human spirit that only God fortunately truly knows. We human beings just seem to mess things up.
Well it is getting late here. Thank you for sharing and especially for your sensitivity. You must get so much email to read. One day I should like to shake your hand. Thank you for your web site and words.
Linda, A Songbird
From Mike. Thank you for your kindness.
If you can breathe well you can sing or speak. If you sing or speak you do not necessarily breathe well. I encourage everyone to study the breath and breathing. Recommended self help program Speech clinic