Singing is like life

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Over the past 20+ years of studying singing and 10+ years of teaching singing, I have learned a lot!  What I've learned more than anything, though, is that the habits that enable us to find and express our most beautiful and authentic voice are also habits that help us live and create our most ideal life.  In short. learning to sing is a lot like learning to live. 

Here are 4 lessons that singing has taught me about life:

 

1. It begins in the body When we start taking voice lessons, usually the first things we learn are how to stand/sit with proper alignment and how to breathe, then we move on to what to do with the face and neck and throat and even arms when we move more into performance mode.  As singers, our body is the instrument.

Similarly, paying attention to what feels good and doesn't and noticing what the body wants - be it food, sleep, a massage, or a trip to the doctor is critical for taking care of ourselves for health and longevity.

 

2. Emotions must be dealt with If you've ever tried to sing while crying or raging mad, you know how difficult it can be to have a functioning instrument with such powerful emotional energy coursing through the body.  To be an effective performer, we have to learn how to acknowledge what emotions are present and feel them in the way that works best for us so that they don't jeopardize our vocal health and integrity.  We also need to learn how to express emotions through our singing to communicate the poetry and story.

Likewise, life and relationships flow better when we're expressing our emotions but not dramatically reacting and raging at every trigger.

 

3. The mind can be wrong When I transitioned into soprano repertoire during grad school, I had a lot of fear about those high notes.  My mind insisted that they were too high, and I could not do it!  Almost every technical habit we work to instill may have its accompanying thoughts - either negative or positive.  Realizing that my mind was wrong and that I COULD sing those notes above the staff was a critical step in moving forward and teaching my body how to actually do it.

Our life is also filled with stories and perceptions that may or may not be true.  When we work to detach our selves from our thoughts, realizing that we are not our thoughts, but the one who thinks, we can approach each arising thought with curiosity instead of certainty.  We then free ourselves to take action from the thoughts that lead us to joy instead of pain.

 

4. Letting go is critical As we build the vocal instrument letting go is a running theme: releasing tension, letting the breath move freely through the body so it can carry the voice, releasing fears about performing (or hitting high notes!), and surrendering and trusting the body and our habits to get through each note, each song.

Similarly, life is more creative, more fun, more joyous when we let go, releasing the control that is only an illusion anyway and surrendering to the inevitable flow of life, whatever it may bring.

So often we may see singing as just building an instrument, with problems and solutions.  But looked at in this way, we can see that the body, heart, mind, and spirit all work together to help us sing and create with our most effective and efficient voice and they are equally at play in our overall well-being.

Singing is not just a beautiful art form to learn and polish, but a powerful metaphor for how we show up in the world.  Tweet this!

What life lessons have you learned from your voice or art form?  Leave a comment below!