I’m getting back to doing real singing practice again after a fairly long hiatus, and it’s throwing up some interesting challenges.
I recently commented on a poll over at readwritepoem, comparing the pleasure and naturalness of my experience of singing and of writing poetry:
The difference is the expectations I place on myself. Poetry I write for myself, principally, and thus it gives me great pleasure. Singing had become something I did for others and so it became an effort. Hard to judge whether my poetry gives others as much pleasure as my singing – but I feel it certainly achieves more pleasure in others at a cost of much less pain to me – that’s what I mean by it coming easily.
I’m working my way back to singing naturally and easily too – but it’s a slow process once you’ve lost that sense of freedom and ease.
I think I’ve done less singing in the last six months than any other time in my life. Which was partly a combination of emotional fallout from the breakup and the challenges of moving to a new job and a new country. But I think more importantly it’s been to do with the pressure I put on my singing in an attempt to become a professional singer. The high standards I set myself. And the blows to my confidence of receiving a succession of rejections – including rejections from courses and companies working at an amateur level. Anyway, with all of this I lost the confidence in my own ability to sing.
For a while, I just floundered, feeling I was betraying myself by not pursuing this dream that had been part of me, yet finally realising that there was no way I could pursue that dream at that time. I had to give myself space. At the same time, I was rediscovering writing, which felt like a far more natural and personal way of expressing myself, without the pressures of singing. I even started writing my own songs, which is a fascinating and satisfying process.
Now I think it’s time I started reclaiming my voice, and my singing. Recovering the joy and the naturalness – while at the same time not being lazy about technique. I have learnt a lot over recent years about finding my natural voice and trusting it to sing. My expectations got in the way there – I kept trying to produce the sound a particular way, rather than doing some basic things that free the voice to express its full resonance and communicative potential.
But it’s hard. Expectations get in the way of everything, but without expectations you don’t get anywhere. It’s a zen-like paradox! Somehow I must find the middle way in my singing. Wish me luck!