Balancing Vocal Technique with Play

photo credit: Kevin N. Murphy

The Singer’s Duality

There is a duality – at play – in all things worth their salt. So when it comes to singing, we could say the singer must continuously thrive in an “inter-play” between vocal technique (dark,heavy,detail), and the wistful enjoyment of play itself (vibrant,light,big-picture).

But often, we have invested so much time in establishing a functional, free and healthy vocal structure for ourselves, that we forget about the essence it was meant to support:

Creativity is playing: a pure of sense of play. There is no big point to it, no purpose. You don’t get to one point to go to another, you’re just playing. Sometimes musicians want to say ‘You forgot about the word play’. When music is best, there is just a sense of enjoyment, of going with the flow. Connected with an energetic force of life, I feel like I’m remembering something: A sense of being a vessel, being receptive, letting something pass through. It’s a sort of choicelessness.

– David Nichtern

photo credit: even.

The Importance of Being Earnest

What is it that we remember when we allow ourselves to fulfill this inner urge, the simple vibrant passion of “play”? What is it that we are opening to? Perhaps it is some lost primal essence. In fact, play could allow a significant part of what constitutes our individuality to surface to begin with. And in a world which more and more values uniqueness, play could be a vital force to creative success.

Creative Play Defined

What is play? For our purposes here, play could be defined as:

  • Allowing ourselves to be silly
  • Suspending our usual judgment towards ourselves, and others
  • Carelessly allowing mistakes, successes, or whatever else may arise
  • Experimenting using skills you’ve learned
  • Freely exploring what is often unfamiliar
  • Purposefully creating without purpose
  • Forgetting about being “serious”, and
  • Reconnecting with that childhood sense of ease and openness. After all, isn’t that what defines good singing anyway?

A Singer’s Duty

What many singers don’t realize, is that most of the world have resigned themselves to routine, domestic lives… That leaves the enormous task up to the singer of embodying this sense of play, or a nearly primal abandonment, so that the listener can live vicariously through the singers experience of it…

THE SINGER must learn, therefor, to become the archetype of passion and play that the listeners so badly desire for themselves.