Singing: The Tonic of Life
Most people these days would associate singing with the popular music they see and hear on the radio and tv. This can make you feel like its beyond you, like it's some form of high skill that you need to be born with. A natural talent if you like. In fact singing is much more a part of our everyday lives than you might realize, and it can be a tonic for an improved state of mind and recipe for stress reduction and better health.
The best example of this is, think about the songs that when you hear them on the radio make you remember something wonderful in your past. The song that reminds you of your first kiss or when you proposed to your partner, or perhaps just some good times with friends at school or work. You can be sitting all alone feeling sorry for yourself about the way life has treated you and a song comes on the radio that reminds you of a great time in your life.
I'm sure you have songs that do this to you. Songs that you sing along to in the car at the top of your voice, ignoring the strange looks from other drivers at the lights. It can be a form of instant atitude adjustment and will often completely erase the effects of a bad day. This effect is multiplied ten fold if you can sing along with a favorite song. For the moments when you sing along you get to journey through a personal fantasy, a kind of mental movie of events that you recall related to that song. When you sing along to a CD in the car you get to momentarily exit this reality and visit another which is tailor made by you.
There is even a flip side to it. I still find it hard to listen to a particular Lead Zeppelen song which I associate with breaking up with my first wife. However, when I do hear it I feel like singing along because it makes me remember how much better things are now than when I was with her. Funny how that works.
If you are the sort of person who has a lot of emotional ups and downs in your life then you could try this little trick for a kind of instant pick me up. Make a CD up of about 10 of your favorite songs and keep it with you at all times. Make sure these songs are related to great times in your life. When you are annoyed or upset, or just need a bit of a boost put the CD on and play one song at random. Do not play more than one song and resist the urge to play the same song each time. Playing the same song will reprogram you to associate it with your current situation and it will loose it's effect. Then sing your head off! Make sure you are alone and sing from the heart. Don't spare the horses - just go for it. Make sure you take a good deep breath to start and concentrate on the sound of your own voice, not the voice of the singer in the song. This will help you pitch correctly and make you feel like you are a real singer on a stage.
Many people simply ignore music in their environment. They regard it as background noise like traffic or the murmur of people talking in a cafe. The truth is music is like a custom built emotional trigger. We all react to it in different ways. How many times have you found a piece of music totally distracting when you are trying to concentrate on something? This is because music is created specifically to evoke a response, it is looking to push your buttons, to make you participate. The next time you see some motor racing on the tv check out the sort of music they put behind it. It won't be Beethoven or Mozart, it will be high speed aggressive guitar music. How does it make you feel? This music is chosen to evoke an adrenelin response, to get you excited and feel like you are part of the action. Conversely, you are unlikely to hear thrashing guitars used behind a documentary about gorillas in Kenya, you will hear thoughtful music that is designed to create empathy and wonderment.
All this means that you should take more notice of the music around you and try to participate whenever you can. Above all, try to listen to music that allows you to sing and express your emotions, let it all hang out and don't give a damn about what other people think. The next step is to get better control of your singing voice. Try getting some kakaoke tracks and sing to those regularly. From there you might consider some actual singing lessons. The benefits are huge in terms of improving your sense of wellbeing and confidence. Finally, pay a visit to The Explore Your Voice Show Podcast. It's a half hour downloadable mp3 audio show on the net where we talk about all aspects of singing, performing, and getting your voice into shape.
Michael Oliphant is a musician, producer, songwriter co-inventor of Explore Your Voice Singing Lessons and co-hosts a regular free show on singing and performing called The Explore Your Voice Show Podcast
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