The Prescription is Music 5: To Sing or Not to Sing
By Darlene Koldenhoven, M.M.V., B.M.Ed., APP, NLP, GRAMMY®, Indie Music Hall of Fame
There’s a little word, a verb, of which the mere mention scares some people to their core, excites others to ecstasy, or causes a religious trancelike state involving mystic self-transcendence and that word is “Sing.” To sing is to make musical sounds with the voice; more commonly known as vocalizing words with an established tune or melody as in “sing a song.” The term may also more broadly include toning, humming, natural vocalizations, wailing, chanting and so on. In any case, it is an elongation of sound produced by a complicated process involving physiological structures that include the ear-voice-brain-body connections and emotional expression. Yet, it is one of the most natural things to do, whether human, bird, dolphin, whale or dog and it comes with many benefits. Singing can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, increase oxygen circulation, stimulate and charge the brain, improve lung capacity, strengthen the diaphragm, focus and direct energy, and give us a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves especially when singing in a group. Even if we don’t feel like it, taking the action of singing will make us feel better, soothe crying babies and calm anxious dogs.
Singing is a learned experience. We learn by listening to others then emulate the sound. The danger here is you have to realize that everyone’s voice is unique. Although you may come close, your voice is your voice. Give up the struggle to think you have to sound like your favorite amazing singer, sound healer or spiritual leader. Every voice has a unique voiceprint; just like everyone has a unique fingerprint or ear shape. Although we may learn by imitation, it is most satisfying to find our own voice, our own sound. Experiment with it, laugh when it doesn’t come our right, try again, and learn from it.
There are many different “schools” and “styles” of singing: Italian, Indian, Native Indian, African Tribal, Tuvan, Overtone, English, Germanic, Middle Eastern, Bulgarian, Punjab, solo, group, and more. There are just as many reasons to sing including spiritual, religious, psychological, healing, social, political, and even self-serving. Once your vocal cords start vibrating it resonates throughout the body by bone conduction. The whole body sings! This make’s a singer capable of elevating one’s self to a higher energy or vibration during sound-making, no matter what the style.
But there are certain basics to singing that apply to all schools and styles. It first requires the desire to sing, to emit elongated sound; then, breath to move the vocal cords; listening for the resonance in order to color and pitch the sound and lastly, the intention of the singer. One first needs to hear the sound in their mind’s musical ear to emit the sound. Hint: If you want a good sound to come out, best to ask yourself for a ‘good’ sound. That is up to you. You cannot control another person’s listening ear or belief system. You can only control your reaction or adjustment. Never be embarrassed to sing!
That said, singing “in tune” may be where the embarrassing part comes in if you hear/sense that you are not resonating with others or with the melody itself. Or worse, when someone else tells you to “take a break.” In-tune singing takes it to the next level of sound production and requires the physics of vibration, frequency, ratios, and resonance. Also, the skills of good listening, pitch matching, tonal memory, a sense of timing/rhythm and a keen sense of where you are on the musical grid, whether learned by rote or formal training. When singing a melody alone or in a group with intention to create harmony, the mind’s musical ear requires training to hear not only the resonance in one’s voice, but literally getting on the same wavelength as everyone else.
According to the genetic research company, 23 and Me, genetics plays a small role in musical ability. But in my lifetime of music development and in teaching voice, ear-training, music theory, piano, and using sonic therapy as a tool to open the ear/voice, especially to those who may not have been born with that small genetic percentage, most of it simply comes down to learning – learning how to listen (internally and externally), learning how to activate one’s apparatus, executing the discipline for mastery, and having a strong desire to make it matter, personally and musically.
You have the potential to express yourself with or without words, alone or with others. Don’t be afraid to let it out. Make your sounds daily. Sing often. Singing is our closest friend in times of isolation, uncertainty, fear, grief, joy and celebration. When the world seems overwhelming and out of control, even a few seconds of singing changes everything. It feeds our own soul, the health of our own physical body and that of others as well. It makes you feel good, brings people together, and has the power to change our world. The way things are going; apparently we need more singing together. Join me and many other speakers for a free Sound Healing Summit, August 3-7 at The Shift Network online. RSVP at no charge here. So take a deep breath, intend your tone and just sing it out. Let’s take a cue from a song written in 1900 by African American brothers John and James Johnson for a birthday celebration of American President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, that eventually became known as the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Altogether now, ahhhhhh!
©2020 Darlene Koldenhoven
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