Free Singing

I know quite a few people who teach singing who do not know what “free singing” means.

Would it be so that if you can make a sound, it is automatically freely made? As long as it comes out of your throat, isn’t it OK however you do it? If you express it, isn’t it free?

Many people would think so.

Others believe that you should “do something” in order to sing. You should squeeze your inner throat muscles, or hold your larynx down, or keep your jaw down, or never move your head, or sing in one position or place, or push hard on your abdominal muscles all the time. None of these things is conducive to free singing.

Some people think that the only authentic sound is an untrained sound. Sometimes, in a few cases, a person can sing authentically, freely and optimally, but mostly that’s not what happens. Others believe that “free” sound isn’t that important and a little squeezing and constricting here and there is OK, or maybe even a good thing.

There are people who are stuck somewhere in their throats and still sing. They don’t know they are stuck. They believe that what they feel is what others should feel and teach from that place. They might possibly imagine what free singing is and maybe even what it sounds like but since they have never experienced it, they can’t know what it’s like. They might even believe it is impossible.

Free singing allows for easy movement of both the vocal apparatus (all of it) and the body (inhalation/exhalation). It releases deeply felt emotion without effort. It is not effortful to do, even in difficult songs. Free singing is possible in any pitch range, in any style and in any kind of voice. No one has the “one right way” to sing freely, but many people believe they have exactly that. They are wrong.

All of the good classical pedagogues from times past agreed that unless the sound is freely made, it is useless. I agree. If you do not know whether or not you are singing freely, you should find out. There are criteria about how to ascertain that (which I won’t give here) but you don’t have to guess. Be wary of teachers who have big words to throw around and fancy concepts to discuss but who don’t sound good when they sing. Be wary of people who “have trouble with high notes” or “can’t sing softly” and who also claim to be expert vocalists and teachers. While everyone has strengths and weaknesses, that’s different than being unable to do something that should be an easy task (not extreme, that is something else) and is not available.

The only way to raise the bar in singing teaching is to raise the standards of what has to be known and demonstrated. The only way to make the profession a serious one is to have clear criteria about what singing teachers need to know and how they need to demonstrate what they know, both in description and in demonstration. As I have said before, a profession with no standards (and singing teaching has NONE) is not very professional.

Freedom F I R S T. If you don’t sing freely, find out why.


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