A few years ago, a friend and I were walking along Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a long, lazy street lined on both sides with art galleries. We’d walk in front of a gallery and glance at each other for consensus on whether to enter or not. It was usually an instantaneous and unconscious decision on which we’d agree.
After a few hours of perusing the galleries this way and beginning to get weary of so much input and walking, we happened upon an archway with a slack, unpainted door. It wasn’t prominent amidst all the storefronts with big windows and creative signs, and yet we both started walking toward it. There was something mysterious and alluring about it.
We slowly opened the door to find a pathway leading somewhere we couldn’t see, and silently entered. What we found was a compound with small stone buildings and a large courtyard, slightly overgrown, with clusters of benches, wildflowers, climbing vines, old trees and a swing. It felt like a magical garden. We decided to stay a while.
Where are the doorways of your singing practice? Where will you find an opening to a richer experience, to surprise?
Be a traveler looking for those moments that pull you into a new, unexpected space.
Let’s go for a vocal walk up and down the range of your voice. Take a generous breath and, singing lightly on an “ahhhhhh” sound, start as deep in your register as you can go. Then begin sliding up until you reach somewhere near the top of your range. Then begin sliding down again until you once again reach your lowest note. Now, do this again but more slowly. In fact, see how slowly you can go. Your aim is to notice the sensations of each place along your range.
Feel for the interesting, the strange, the attractive, the ugly.
Do this a while, up and down, down and up, and then make the choice to spend some time exploring a place in your range that feels more interesting. Maybe you like the way it feels in your mouth to sing that tone, or maybe you feel it in your chest. Maybe the note just makes you happy or more alive.
Use your attraction to this place as a doorway through which you can explore more. Try singing the same note using a different vowel. Try moving away from the note slightly and then back to it. Then just follow this exploration wherever it takes you.