Monthly Archives: August 2010

How Do You “Learn” Improvisational Singing?

Learning anything improvisational is almost a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?  If the singing isn’t planned, and there is no road map, then how do you practice improvisational singing?

There are a number of ways, and we’ll address a few options here, and more ways later.

You might begin by exploring your voice so that you get to know it — can you say you really know your voice?  I’ve been singing for years, and I’m still getting to know my voice.

Pretend you and your voice really don’t know each other.  Schedule a date to meet and greet. Ask questions, explore, and find out what you can about this “new” friend of yours.

Maybe, just for starters, ask yourself these questions and write out the answers.

  1. What my voice can do?  Include ideas about vocal range, strength or lack thereof that you feel or experience when you sing, clarity of your voice, vocal stamina, etc.  Write down what’s true right now about your voice.  Just ramble about it a bit.  What’s in your awareness about your voice?  Don’t bother editing.  It’s helpful to see where your attention goes when you think about your voice, ’cause you can tell what’s on the “top of the stack.”
  2. How comfortable am I with singing? Can I and/or do I sing just for myself or do I sing for others?
  3. How do I sound?  Describe it factually (without opinion or judgment).  Example:  I think of my voice as soft.  I don’t know how high or low I can sing.  My voice sounds breathy to me, like it has a lot of air in the sound.  It’s not clear like a bell, it’s more like the sound of a soft breeze.  OR — I have one of those boisterous voices.  Loud, kind of brash and bold and out there.  Not quiet or apologetic, really the opposite of that.  I have a confident voice. When I sing, it just sounds loud to me.  I don’t really know if I sing in tune.  I just sing when I sing, without thinking much about how it sounds.
  4. Do I enjoy singing?  Under what circumstances?
  5. What would I like my voice to do that I don’t think it can do at this moment in time?

During your day, when you get up from your desk, put your child down for a blessed nap, walk outside or down the hall for a lunch break or errand, try making a little sound.  I don’t mean a squeak or a tiny sound, I mean sing a little bit.  Hum a little. Sing a song out loud that you’ve been singing in your head.  Make up a song.   Make a wavy sound with your voice.  Sing tra-la-la a couple of different ways.  Sing a sentence instead of speaking it.

Pry open the “exploring your voice”  treasure box by being vocal in a new way — not speaking — but singing.  Widen your speaking range and turn it into a song-sound.

Yes!  Sing a little…

If you can find a place to sing and experiment that’s private, great.  If not, walking along a busy street or going to a park, or sitting in your car for a few minutes can work, too.

Start small and work from there.  Start with humming three notes, heck — one note.  This gets your brain, body, and your being acclimated to a wider range of sound expression.

Later, if you are so inclined, you can develop your voice, so it can do what you want it to do.  Your voice becomes your full partner, a well-prepared tool.  It becomes the paint brush that can splash any color right where you want it.  If you want to sing a low note, or a high note, and you can.  If you need to hold a note forever, or practically forever, you can.  Otherwise, it’s like being a painter with an incomplete palette  — you’re missing some important colors, or the paintbrush itself.

But for now, sing people!  Sing anything. Sing here.  Sing there. Get to know your sound, your vibration, your up notes and your down notes.

It’s where to start.

Oh, and have fun….

Sing, Pray, Love

Sing, Pray, Love

Improvisational singing, sound play, group voice lessons, call and response, and silence.
With Terri Crosby
Sunday, September 19, 2010
10 am to 2:30 pm. Registration 9:30 am
Location:  The Dome at The Light Center, 2190 Highway 9
Black Mountain, NC 28711
$40 at door, $35 prepaid.
Add a friend for $30.
Call 828-669-6845 to register.
Note: Bring water and a lunch or snack.
Workshop Questions for Terri?
Call her cell 714-240-4889.
or email songwave@earthlink.net

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Singing is a profound means of connecting and centering. It is prayer. It is meditation. It is also joyful, freeing and self-expressive. When we create sound consciously, our mind chatter subsides, leaving us stronger, clearer, calmer and able to access the intelligence of our heart wisdom. Come enjoy singing and sounding in the acoustically spectacular Dome with a group of like-minded souls.
The day will be a flow of learning, expressing, silence and sound. This is a playfully sacred day, a day of discovering how easy, joyful and beneficial it is to sing and make sound with others, whether you’ve done this many times, or never. All levels of singers and “non-singers” are welcome.

  • Find your sound. Connect to the deepest and most joyful part of yourself without effort. Drop in. Live there.
  • Use sound to become stretchable, expandable, boundless, and free. This is most helpful during changing times.
  • Learn a silent or singing meditation to use when you want to feel more centered.
  • Play group sound games. Connect with perfect strangers in a profound way. You’ve probably always wanted a bigger family….
  • Find out how to breathe specifically for singing and speaking. Take a group voice lesson.
  • Oh, and might as well begin now to expect miracles…

For more information about The Light Center at Black Mountain,  follow this link.

For the “Sing, Pray, Love” workshop link  with a printable, email forward-able pdf flyer on The Light Center’s website, go here.



Look What The Cat Dragged In

It’s yet another beautiful morning in North Carolina….

Business and Bella

I went downstairs to my new and beautiful office with a view, taking a folding table with me that I thought would be useful.  Well, for my cats actually — they like being up off the floor for the “loftier-than-thou-view-of-life.”

In case it’s not obvious already, I adore (OK, worship) my feline friends, I’m just nuts about them, and I go out of my way to make them happy and comfortable.  Cats are pretty much heaven on four legs to me.

So….there I am carrying the big table for my cats down the stairs.  No problem.

Bella

I get to my office, set up the table, and think about getting a table cloth.  But then I see a quilt on the floor, which had been put there for my three small dogs the day before.  I think to myself, “Oh, for now I’ll just put this comfy quilt on the table for the cats and they will love to sleep there until I go back up and get the tablecloth.”

So I pick up the quilt and refold it a bit, placing it on the table.  I walk away.

I did not notice that something gray-black and long and alive (but pretending to be dead) fell out of the quilt.

As I turn and prepare to sit at my desk, I gasp.  Whoa.  There is an 18 inch long snake (not moving) on the floor where the quilt was.  My hand goes to my heart.  I breathe deeply and convince myself all is fine, just a garter snake I’m sure, but I notice my heart rate just went up a bit.

“What should I do, what should I do?”

I see a basket about the size of the dead looking snake and I put it over him.  Whew.  The basket works (meaning I’m calmer).

Then, I confess right here and now, like a scared girl, I ran up the stairs to my husband who is still sleeping and say, “Eric, there is a snake in my office and I need your help.”  His eyes open quickly, but there is no panic.  Not even a suggestion of emergency.  But he is totally ready to help me, bless his heart.

He smiles, even though he is sleepy.  I’m a morning person, he is a night owl.  His best working time is my best sleeping time.  But I digress.  I just admire that he’s never upset about being awakened.

He pulls on his khaki’s, and follows me downstairs.  Looking around, he sees the basket upside down on the floor, and assumes correctly that the snake is under there.  He gets a box, slides the snake into the box and takes it outside and releases it on the landing.

RIGHT BY THE DOOR.

I look out the door in total disbelief.  “Eric, why is the snake by the door?’

I’m really trying to understand this.

He said he wanted to see how long it would play dead before scurrying away.

OK.  A science experiment.  So we watched it.

But the snake kept moving in the wrong direction so I asked him if he would scoot it over into the garden so it could get on its way to the underbrush to avoid the dogs or cats finding the poor guy again, so bless his heart, Eric did.

Alrighty then.

One snake out the door an on his way to his normal day — and my normal day.  But as we were closing the door, the corner of the mat got a little caught, so Eric reached down to adjust the door mat.

Whoops!

There’s another snake, just a tiny baby, so Eric retrieves it as well.

And where does he put the snake?

Yep, RIGHT BY THE DOOR.

Gawd.  Boys will be boys.

He saw my face, smiled a big smile, and without a word, moved the darn snake on its happy way to the garden.

Two snakes in one day.  This seemed rather significant to me.  But it wasn’t until a couple hours later, Ms. Bella, the enthusiastic feline hunter comes in with a beautiful butterfly in her mouth.  She goes out to the butterfly bush and leaps about five feet in the air and catches them.  I saw her do it the other day.  It hardly seems fair.

So here is some information about power animals, snakes and butterflies specifically,  according to the Earth Angel Connection.

SNAKE –  is about shedding the past and changing the future, rebirth.    As Snake sheds its skin so we can shed our illusions and limitations in order to fully use our vitality and desires to achieve wholeness.   Snake is about transition in our lives from one phase to another.

BUTTERFLY  –  is about transformation. Butterfly fearlessly leaves the safety of its cocoon to meet a new world in a new form, trusting its untried wings to allow it to fly. It is a powerful symbol for anyone who’s contemplating or in the midst of a major change.  It is about bringing color and joy to our lives, learning to dance with joy as we make those changes in our lives transforming us and our lives.

Not long after the butterflies and snakes, I got the call of a lifetime, and not in a good way, from someone who shall remain nameless.  This person reactivated me in the most primal way.  That is all I’m going to say about it.

By the end of the phone call, it was very clear to me that was time for me to shed old skin, and transform.  Time to leave behind what never mattered in the first place  and concentrate on doing what matters — everything I love to do.

That would be singing.

So I sang loudly and long, which caused my dear Bella to depart to the quiet of mother nature and — yes, probably more hunting.

I figure the whole thing started and ended with Bella, my cat.  She does what she does and illustrates my day at the same time — just one reason why I adore her.  I learn from her.  She is always my partner in spirituality and almost always —  comic relief.

Bella At Attention