The checklist way of singing doesn’t work for me

When I read some of the online forums about singing, and someone asks a technical question, the answers can be overwhelming. Some people give themselves so many things to think about that I can’t imagine how there’s any brain left to deal with the music.

I think that building technique needs to be an iterative process, where a detail is worked on, then brought back to the whole. It can be surprising sometimes how the new skill can affect other areas of singing, and sometimes an adjustment must be made that is quite far-reaching due to something as small as how you form your O vowel.

I used to try to control every part of the singing mechanism as well as I could, but there are too many parts that are interconnected, and as Reid says, if some parts are not under our voluntary control then the whole system needs to be treated as if it is not under our voluntary control, because our tinkering on controllable parts can lead to uncontrollable consequences. If we believe that, then how do we do anything on purpose?

The answer lies in finding out how to elicit reflexive responses. Which concept will elicit the desired response? Is the response more free than it was before? Does it make singing easier? Then keep it! Patterns of vowel, pitch and volume, within a rhythmic framework, are the tools that we can use to build the technique. The freer execution of such patterns will tell us that the body-mind is improving technically. We can observe after the fact what is happening, and perhaps experiment with some of the microbehaviors, but the only thing that will elicit a reflexive, organic response is the correct CONCEPT. There is too much to micromanage if we sing by trying to tick off everything on a long list of technical points.

One Reply to “The checklist way of singing doesn’t work for me”

  1. This used to happen with my golf swing, when my Dad was teaching me in my youth. I would get to the point where it felt good, and I'd be hitting the ball pretty far, and then one day he'd read something in a golf magazine and decide to tweak a part of my swing. After the tweaking, I would spend at least a month getting back to where it felt good and I could hit the ball far again. I would have to sacrifice results for a while in order to incorporate the "tweak." If only I could have used the "old" swing while the new tweak was being incorporated.

    Recently, I read that Tiger Woods, who was successfully winning all his tournaments, took a huge chunk of time off to re caliber his swing. He felt that the step backward was worth it for having a better swing later.

    Just read this post on a Tai Chi blog yesterday entitled "Isolate the Integrate" which speaks of this concept.

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