WHY SING?

Singing is an expression of self.  When you speak, it may carry a message and it may be a useful and helpful message.  When you sing, you are giving your audience art.  Art comes in many forms, but it is  universally a way of sharing messages in a beautiful way.  There is no defense against beauty.  It breaks down barriers.  It promotes understanding and even empathy.  We all seem to have beauty within us, especially because of the sympathetic vibration set up when we see or hear something beautiful.  It strikes a chord in your soul.  When you sing, you are offering others a peak, a glimpse or a complete view into the essence of yourself.  Some would have us  think that we are “bad”, but if we are created in the image of God, as I once read, I would tend to think that this would include beauty and the spirit of creating.  This isn’t about religion as much as it is about the human spirit and I cannot think of any sane person who is not uplifted by the experience of beauty.

Singing is a very individualistic activity. No one on earth has your voice.  No one on earth has your experience.  Granted, there are similarities but there are also vast differences.  You are also without an anatomical copy.  It is possible to mimic singers as you start out and it may even be beneficial.  As time goes on, you will have your own style and copying others will feel boring at best.  You do have your own sound, just as you have your own fingerprints.  It is even scientifically measurable with voiceprints.

Singing is a way of sharing emotions with others. When you sing a song, you take your listener on a ride, a trip, a vacation, or you tell a story.  You may romance someone with a song or sing about romance, or lost romance, or the hope for romance.  Most songs seem to be about love, whether it is past love, present love, or future love.  Think about it.  If you are singing for the fun of it for yourself and others, you can get others to feel things that are fun, scary, upsetting, wonderful, awful…there is a whole huge range of emotions that you have as a singer, much as a painter has almost infinite varieties of color from which to choose.

Singing is a part of life, a part of most religious services, a part of many important activities.  Turn on the radio or television and surf a little.  Go online and surf a little.  Singing is everywhere.  Even the whales sing.  Don’t laugh, they might think our songs sound sillier than theirs do to us.  A whale’s brain is bigger than ours and I would take a wild guess that it isn’t all head padding.  Most football games have someone singing the national anthem.  That is a very tough song if you have a break in your voice, by the way.  Drive around religious places on Saturdays or Sundays and you will hear people singing.

Singing can be  a way  a poet can get others to pay close attention to the poem.  We call those types of poets lyricists.  If they also write the music, they are songwriters.  I think that singers should try songwriting for a variety of reasons.  You learn about yourself, you learn more about music, you can share your experience with others and in doing so, everyone who hears your song can gain something from it.  Writing a good song forces you to be a good writer.  Writing a good song forces you to use music as a tool to get your song to work well.  Writing a good song is as individual an experience as is singing but it offers something even beyond that.  When you write a good song, you appreciate and understand more about the writers whose songs you sing.

WHY PERFORM?

This post is a meal, not a snack.  Masticate properly!

Performing is not about showing off.  Performing is not about proving a point.  Performing is not about trying to make someone feel bad about themselves.  Performing is not to get attention.  Performing may be a little about all the aforementioned, but it will be a better performance if it is very little about all the aforementioned.

Someone once asked me, “Why do you perform… to get attention?”  I was unbelievably offended by the question at the time. Looking back on it now, I realize that it was asked out of a combination of ignorance and a complete absence of understanding regarding performance.  Anyone who has been in a play or has performed in public in another medium knows that a performance is something that you are giving people in the audience.  They may or may not deserve the gift, and you may or may not deserve the “gift” of talent that you have, but it is a giving kind of thing.  When it is sincere and done with some conviction, the performance usually will be well received by an audience, especially if the performer is doing a good job.

Performing itself can be an art.  Why make art?  It makes life more fun.  If life isn’t fun, then what’s the point?   It seems like most children have a good grasp of having fun.  Most children can readily perform without being too self-conscious.  Most children can play a game or pretend and have fun doing those things.

Something happens as we get older, if we are not involved in performance or in theatre or in dance.  Performing can be an embarrassing activity, even when things are going right.  Think about it.  You are in front of people and all eyes and ears are on you.  Scary. We don’t have this much attention on ourselves on a day-to- day basis.  If you are not used to this, it can feel intimidating, or at least uncomfortable.  Most children seem to like attention.  Most people do not like attention when they are doing something that they do not want others to know about. What happens to us as we get older?  Maybe we have been caught at things that we did not want others to discover.  Maybe we got caught getting a cookie when we were told to not have one.  There are a few million other examples which may come to mind. Or maybe we are all perfect people, in which case we can comfortably experience attention without the unconscious reminder of being caught at something when we were doing something wrong.  Performing isn’t wrong, but the attention can make a person feel like it is.

I do not believe in stage fright.  I like stages.  They have a lot of space (the nice ones).  I’m not afraid of rooms or stages, for that matter.   I think people are afraid of attention, especially what feels like too much attention.  Yet when you are with another person whom you find attractive, interesting, intelligent, and fascinating, the attention may feel good.  Wait a minute.  There could be people in an audience that you haven’t met and they could be attractive, interesting, intelligent, and fascinating.  There could even be people in an audience who enjoy hearing you sing.  There must be these types in audiences because they are buying singers’ recordings, and have been since recordings were marketed commercially.

What can we do with the attention that we get from an audience?  How do we deal with that pressure?  Why not give back attention to the audience?  They look at you.  Well, look at them.  It isn’t fatal.  If they smile, that could be nice.  Most do.

If they laugh, would that be so bad?  Not if you are doing something funny.  But even if you aren’t, you are still getting something from the audience and they are getting something from you.  What is this, anyway?  We give a song to an audience and they give us something for our song…Hmmmm It sounds like business. Something for something.  It sounds like a relationship that is working well.  A win-win proposition, as it were.

When a performance is going well, it is a very fulfilling experience.  If you give your all and let your audience be a part of the activity, everyone benefits.  It is almost magical.  If you don’t believe it, get out to a good concert and soak it up.  Work hard, learn your craft, practice it, and your audiences will do the same when you perform.