Mindfulness and Singing

Most people in our world think of their voice only when it is (a) ailing, (b) not behaving normally  or (c) when it is commented upon by others. Further, most people do not think much about the words they use when they are speaking unless they are giving a speech that was planned in advance.

Do mindfulness and singing belong together? Of course!

In each of the different CCM styles, words matter differently. In music theater they rank as first in order of importance for a singer to address. In jazz, maybe they are important but maybe not. Scat singing isn’t about words  — it’s about sounds. The music itself is often the driver, and the phrases created by the vocalist might do most of the communication. In rock music words go in and out, depending on the texture of the song. Sometimes you can hardly understand the singer but no one seems to mind. In country music and in folk music there is always a story, so the words matter, but they are at the service of the style, so how they are conveyed is up to each artist. It’s rare for a country or folk artist to yodel, but they could. That would take away words, as would humming. Rap is all about words and rhythm and emphasis. Melody might be missing but that would be OK. Other styles vary according to similar parameters.

The relationship of the singer to these ingredients is both a stylistic choice and a personal expression. How much attention is paid to any of these things runs the gamut from hardly any to quite a lot. That matters, of course, and it makes a difference in how we perceive both the artist and the material and its message. This is again, mindfulness and singing, deliberately put together.

If you don’t think about what you say or how you say it, it would be surprising to know that you do think about what you sing and how you sing it. Bringing mindfulness to both processes would be a useful thing to do. Mindfulness is about paying attention without judgement to whatever is happening in each moment. If you are oblivious then you have no choices available and an artist should never be in that situation.

Consciously paying attention to what arises when you sing, using the words, the notes, the rhythms, the dynamics and any other ingredients as expression is a requisite for a professional level artist. If you want to keep yourself from growing as a vocal artist, and sound like you don’t really care, sing without regard to much of anything. Works every time.

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