Today was a singing day

The morning was all lesson prep routine – daily basic warmup, a later more intensive warmup that I do at least three times a a week, practising all of the harmony parts for my singing group’s next session, then practising a bunch of other songs I’m working on for other groups before heading off to my weekly singing lesson.

I started writing a post about political things during the intervals between warmups, but the singing got in the way of researching some of the links I wanted to include, and since getting back into singing again about 4 years ago has helped make me a happier person than I’d been for a long time, I decided to prioritise the singing for today and let the politics wait for tomorrow.

My singing teacher pushed me hard today, chipping away at the most intransigent of the masks I’ve unconsciously layered over my natural voice over the years. We got somewhere important (and a bit startling in terms of what I’ve been muffling with my masks for all these years). Now I just have to practice exactly what I learnt to let free today so that I can keep on doing it!

I should probably do some gardening tomorrow morning. Before we do our monthly concert of golden oldies for the dementia unit. Then I’ll write that politics post.

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies, Politics

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2 replies

  1. What have you been masking?

    • There’s a bit of background to explain for the masking concept to make sense, so bear with: for all of us, the resonance inside our heads (with all the bony conductors built into our skulls) makes our voice sound different to us than it does to other people who are hearing our voice sound-waves conducted through the air between us – we’ve probably all experienced that surprise when listening to recordings of ourselves speaking, and thought “do I really sound like that?”.

      When we sing (especially these days when we’re less likely to sing casually with other people in our neighbourhoods than our great-grandparents were), we are singing with a soundtrack in our head from professional recordings which have been studio-mastered to add reverb and various other filters to those performers’ natural voices, and subconsciously we try and reproduce those studio effects with the sounds we are hearing ourselves make inside our own heads. This tends to involve pushing resonance into the nose, pushing the vocal vibrations down into the back of the throat, and a bunch of other things one subconsciously does to contort the shape of the resonance chamber of our larynx/pharynx etc so that it sounds good to oneself.

      In the process of making one’s voice sound “good” to oneself, the sound one projects outwards becomes muffled and distorted, and the resonance often becomes harsh and nasal. That’s essentially what my teacher means by “masks”. My voice, for years, has not sounded like an extension of my speaking voice, and it really should if I want to sound like me up on stage rather than like some confused hybrid of ten other vocalists.

      I’ve also had a bit of a thing about my voice sounding too sweet and not rocky enough. What I learnt yesterday is that if I stop masking, I have a huge belting chest voice which will be rocker as hell once I harness the beast we’ve just unleashed, and my head voice is really clear/sweet and that just gives me contrast that I should embrace. It’s just going to take some dedication to singing things in ways that sound too “shouty” or “girly” inside my head and trusting that as I get more muscle control in these new zones I’ll get used to it and love it, and that it will sound stronger and more interesting to audiences too.

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