Trying to sing is a lot like summoning Satan - our AD explains

Trying to sing is a lot like summoning Satan - our AD explains

Cabaret star and fabulous singing teacher Dusty Limits tells me, ‘singing is just speaking at pitch’. I suppose if the will to communicate is strong enough, if it’s all about serving the audience and not about how the singer sounds - or feels about the sound they’re producing - it should be a breeze. In my attemtps, not so much…

As an actor, I obviously have no qualms about expressing emotions. Why does it seem more exposing to sing them? Here are some responses from the good theatre folk of Twitter:

“Because once the music starts it'll carry on without you even if you dry or make a mistake!!”

“I think it’s the pressure of being “in tune”. When speaking you can make your own tune but when singing you’re led by music & if you can’t find the tune you’re lost.”

“With speaking I kind of know what my voice will do and can be confident - it usually comes out of my mouth how I expect it to. When singing, my voice can be affected by so many things - nerves, alcohol, environment, a cold.”

“Some people (me) just can’t sing. It’s almost biology not psychology. I used to be embarrassed and there’s pressure ‘surely you can give us a quick chorus. Anyone can sing that!’ Etc. but mostly I just politely, firmly decline.”

I have sung on stage – but always as other people, whom I could attempt to imitate. Debbie Harry, Prince Charming, Nico - and various other Germans (I always play Germans) It’s easier to forget that I can’t sing and just do it anyway as someone else. But now I’m meant to figure out how to sing like me. WTAF. I’m reasonably musical, played piano and clarinet, can read music and fairly reliably sing in tune. It’s just not a great sound.

Sarah-Louise Young, herself a wonderful singer, suggested checking out an article by Ariane Barnes , “Empowerment and the Female Voice.” Barnes says, “The throat chakra in yoga is heavily focused on communication and is the most sensitive to truth and lies…” So perhaps you really have to feel something to sing it well? Or at least, as in acting, suspend your disbelief?

I think it boils down to the fact that for people who can naturally sing, it probably is just like speaking. Easy, fun, a skill to be polished rather than learnt from scratch. To those of us who aren’t natural singers – it isn’t at all like speaking. It’s scary and mysterious and frustrating, like trying to master Swahili or summon the devil.

I do have one final recourse. In the famous sketch, Mel Brooks’s Two Thousand Year Old Man claimed singing was invented in prehistoric times to make people pay attention to a life-or-death emergency, “La, la, la…A lion is eating my foot off!!” If all else fails, maybe I’ll pay a visit to London Zoo…

Do you struggle with singing? Or perhaps you’ve found your voice? I’d love to hear your experience!

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