Using interpretation to improve technique falls into the same category as using songs to develop technique. It’s not the best choice. If a singer has very little awareness of what’s going on while he or she is making sound, the only adjustments that will be made to the song in terms of what it means will be variations in dynamics and phrasing, unless the person is going to re-arrange the notes and rhythms as well. Other more powerful shifts will only be possible if the instrument has been programed to respond in ways that are acquired deliberately. That means that interpretation alone cannot really do the job that vocal exercises do. They cannot replace the physicality of singing or the awareness thereof.
On the other hand, compelling storytelling is powerful. Someone who is vividly feeling any emotion, and who has a strong desire to communicate with others is always going to be interesting, no matter how she sounds. That’s why we respond to CCM singers who have less than great vocal behaviors……they immediately grab our attention if they are totally involved with the story or the music or both.
Those who are quiet by nature or who are taught that being demonstrative is somehow unacceptable or even rude have a much harder time with this than those who are gregarious or who grow up in a free-flowing emotionally open environment. Someone who is easily able to be emotional, but not out of control, and who is willing to feel those emotions passing through the body and voice moment to moment is bound to be a more compelling communicator than someone who is inhibited or who tells the story only through the intellectual understanding of the words.
The meeting of body, mind and heart wherein the “body” part is a combination of voice and breath, is probably the most powerful communication tool we have as human beings. Looking for each part of this three-way equation is a personal journey, but a worthy one. How our minds work to interpret the world through our senses is a very significant thing to understand. How our bodies respond to the demand from the brain to make sound is also unique in each moment, but both of these experiences work best when we know how to feel deeply and when we love what we are doing. The courage to share comes from the love and trust that are born of the melding of the three partners. Some people come by all three of these ingredients naturally, with little training and effort. Those who do not (most of us) work towards developing, expanding and expressing each aspect until the singer, the song and the message become one. How beautiful!