Singing - A Mind, Body & Spiritual kinda thing

Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Rebekah Keogh | Uncategorized

It is useful to think of singing in a holistic sense connecting mind, body and spiritual aspects of yourself. Becoming aware of these things is a good place to start. You may find that vocal technique alone is not enough to get you over every singing hurdle. This post touches on elements of mind, body and spiritual aspects of singing and why it is important to connect with each one and is jammed packed with resources for you to explore.



Mind

Imagine picking up a lemon from a fruit bowl. Cut it in half and lift it towards your mouth. Imagine what it tastes like. You will probably find that your taste buds go crazy and start salivating. You were able to imagine something which caused a physical reaction. Knowing that, you can see how negative thoughts and emotions might have a negative physical reaction in your body, including your voice. It might be useful to incorporate some mindfulness or relaxation methods into your routine such as listening to calming music, or writing down or saying some positive affirmations. Singing is also known to help improve your memory!





Body

Similarly, bad posture or stiffness in the body can have a domino effect on the voice. Last year at the Vocology In Practice Seminar one of the speakers gave an example where a singer was having issues with their voice and after a lot of exploring they discovered that the singer actually had an issue in their foot that had worked its way up the body and had actually twisted the larynx slightly over time. This was amazed me.


By including some simple stretches or yoga into your vocal warm up time, it can really help free your voice from tension that may exist as well as helping to calm any nerves that you may have. I often do some stretches with students who seem stressed or cold as it can help calm them down and release any tension they may be holding from the day.


Neil Dennehy, a physiotherapist from Clonmel has put together a short video with some simple stretches that you may find useful. Take 2 or 3 ideas and start incorporating them into your routine. Even just 5 minutes of stretching can make a huge difference. I do head & shoulder rolls, side to side motions, and back to front motions for example. 


Simple stretches

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=645rVzRNm8A


I've included some exercises to reduce extrinsic muscle tension (muscles surrounding your larynx and neck area;

  • Jaw movement: (Side to side, open and close, chewing motion)
  • wow wow wow wow: (Say wow in a really over exaggerated way widening the mouth as you do.)
  • Lip thrills/bubbles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ8CGNAxCbg
  • Tongue stretches: (In and out of your mouth, round & round, side to side etc) Check out this video by Dr. Dan for further info and some more tongue exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwk3It813z8
  • Shoulder rolls: Front to back and back to front motions.
  • Oral Resonance: Focus on the tip of your tongue when speaking to help reduce strain in your larynx (voice box)


 .                                                                                                          Photo: This guys got the hang of it!




Spiritual

Singing is known to have healing abilities, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, promote group bonding and relaxes the body. Anyone who sings will know how good it makes you feel inside, or will have gotten butterflies or tingles when hearing another singer deliver a beautiful vocal performance. Singing will often evoke tears of emotion, having a kid of cathartic effect on us. I know I’ve often arrived home from a long day in work and had band practice which I didn’t really want to go to as I was so drained from the day, but after 10 minutes singing, all the stress and anxiety melted away and my energy had returned, every time. It is often a kind of therapy for us. Find music you love to listen to and sing and it will enrich your life.




Useful Resources

Here are two links to spotify playlists that I listen to;

Peaceful Music

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWZqd5JICZI0u?si=I5HPG1SKRtqMXI4Jfgu8Wg

Focus Music

https://open.spotify.com/album/4MmTwjP7bqA9zy7FsFyPBe?si=6pQa_HQfT821gCWpUOIFsQ


El Greys vocally lead meditative music

https://m.youtube.com/c/InfinityCalling


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