Adults' Lesson 8: Communication and Intention | Sing with ETO
Hi. My, name is Tim Burton Voula and, an, opera singer and, I'm. Due to make my debut with English, touring opera in their next season which, I'm really looking forward to. Now. Their current season has had to be cancelled due to the Cova 19, outbreak. But. English. Touring opera have been pretty, amazing, I think and. Paid. All of their artists, and freelancers, in full for. Any. Shows that have been canceled, this season which, is just a really, great thing of them to do and. Like. I say I can't wait to perform with, the company myself. This. Is singing. Lesson number eight in the, series of singing lessons for adults, which, ETO. Have provided. There. Are also singing lessons for kids, available. So if you know any any. Kids any young people you think would be interested, then, please do spread the word and share this with them. In, the series so far there's been all. Sorts of things covered to do with singing you know breath. Posture. Resonance. Consonants. There's. Just some really great stuff and. So. If you haven't already. Seen. Those videos then, I encourage you do, check them out because there's just some really useful. Stuff in there stuff, that I found useful myself. And. Also just some really really. Fascinating insights into how other singers work, and think and approach approach, their singing. Last. Week's lesson was given. By Susanna Harrell and like to thank her for her lesson and she. Also sent me some homework, which, I'm. Going to come to later on in this session, but. She talked a lot about breath, alignment. And posture, really. Key things which I found useful and a lot of which I do myself which is it's. Just great so do check that out as well. So. What, I'd like to do is share. With you a couple of things that I've been working, or thinking about in my own singing. Now. As. You would have if you've been watching the previous videos the. Realize, there's so much going on, so. Much going on when you're singing different. Muscles working different, things going on and, what. I find difficult sometimes, is. Being. Able to focus, on what. It is that I'm actually communicating. And allowing. The other stuff to sort of happen, more naturally, and organically without, me having to sort of really. Think and concentrate, on the other stuff I want to be able to communicate freely, without. Brain. Space headspace, taken up with that with the other stuff. Which. Is possible. And should, be sort of our goal I think as singers tis to have that freedom to communicate. Without. Sort of thinking overthinking, everything. So. That's, what I've been trying to get to and and there's a couple of things that help me achieve that and so, I'd. Like to share with them, with you in this lesson. So. The. First part of this is I guess there's two sides to this the first part is a very physical part, and it's about keeping, loose. Now. Because there are so many muscles. Involved, in singing, and. The love that has been covered in the previous lessons a lot, of that is absolutely, right, those muscles those muscles, that work, things. That you can control and whatever to, to support, and and give. Your singing a real foundation. But. The problem that I sometimes, find, is that if you spend too much energy thinking. About specific, things actually. You can get lost in, why. You're doing it in the first place especially. When it comes to muscles because the thing with muscles is there and. Stephan Louis talked about this in his first. Lesson is. That you you. Have very limited control, over certain muscles, and, often, you can only activate them like. By thinking about something else whether it's an idea or by moving another, part of your body that then allows.
That. Muscle, to work and. I'll. Give you the example which I found quite useful so if I said to you you. Know flex. Your bicep, you would most likely raise, your arm up to your side maybe. Clench your fist your forearm or tense and then you do something that combination. Of things that sort of tightens. That muscle. Now, if I said to you okay. Do. The same thing flex, your bicep but you're not allowed to raise your arm up you're, not allowed to do anything with, your shoulder elbow or wrists now, flex it, you. Probably can't, do that by in fact you can't do that because, in order for this muscle to work you need a series, of other things to, happen. So. It's the same with the, muscles that are necessary for singing, a lot, of them we. Need other stuff to happen for them to work naturally, and they're designed to work no. A lot of them are designed to work involuntarily, by themselves, without you really thinking right now release. Or now tend you know so. That's. The problem with muscles so what I've found, is it's easier to find areas, of your body that you can have, a greater sense of sort of feedback you can actually release, them and you can feel that looseness. And. Therefore. Allowing the other muscles to sort of work on their, own accord. So. At the beginning of of. Any practice session or warm-up session that I was doing I would, start with thinking about three things first. Is my. Neck so. I, mean, if you want to do, join. In with me it's the best way to sort of feel what I'm talking about. So. I want to get a really, free and loose neck so. That my head is just sort of balancing, on top, and. Is held there sort of by the alignment. On top, of the spine, rather than the muscles themselves doing, any heavy lifting work. So. What, I'll do to begin with is it starts, with almost like wobbling. My head around until, I find. Some sort of a. Magical. Spot in the middle where it's just sort of perfectly. Balanced. Now. To, really find this you have to let go and if you find that your head then suddenly. Flops, to one side forward, or back that's. Actually a really good thing it shows that you're letting go so, do. That for a little minute and. Then. What, I would do is actually allow my head to flop over to one side and, then. I might take it around the front and. Back. Around the other way and. Then. Up and again. Find, that that. Place. Where your head just feels like it's floating on top of you. And. I'll, do that a few times now, this is not a stretch. Stretching. Is really important and has its place but what I'm really talking about now is like. Freedom of movement freedom of motion, so. I'll do it a few times but thinking about just, moving your head rather than actually like working. It round from side to side which is so tempting to do so. I'd let my head fall to one side let. It fall around the front. Background. And. Then, up and find. Again that spot of balance, and. Floating. In the middle. So. That's the first thing my neck then. I want to think about my shoulders so, it's. The same thing with the shoulders so instead of stretching or straining to do anything what. I want to do is just get used to the the shoulder. Moving around, without. Any effort so an, easy way to do this is if with the other arm you grab your other arm and, you're. Just gonna lift the other arm without doing anything with this side it's. All gonna be in this arm you're. Gonna lift your arm up move, it around this move. It around the joint move it around the socket yeah up and down to. The side too, and you can hold it up and to make sure that you really have let go of on, this side you, can suddenly, let go and your. Shoulder should just fall down yeah. To show that there's no tension there do, the same on the other side so, again lifting, up there should be no resistance from, this side lifting, up and then, holding. It up and then just to make sure that there's no tension there you let go and your, arms should just flop down, now. Once you get comfortable with that you can do that on both sides without, sort of assisting, you, can just lift your arms up and out your shoulders up and down in any, old fashion it doesn't have to be coordinated, you can even sort, of hold them there for a second and then just drop, to feel, that release.
Now. I want, to do that with the. Neck being free so. What you, can find that balance and then, play around and then you can even flop, your neck to one side as you're doing it swap, it to the other side and then find that balance in the middle so. That you're getting that feeling. That all of this area is released. And free, so. That's my neck shoulders. And then the third thing is hips. Now. In, the lesson so far there's. Been. A lot of talking about the. Role that the pelvis plays in singing. Which. Is just absolutely, vital, and important, to understand, how, important that is. But. Going back to my idea about. Finding. The things that you have a greater sense of what you can control, and what you can feel I, think. About my my hips and you. Know my the, whole joints around all, of the joints around there so. That if. You really let go and listen you can do this with me when. You're standing up you. Almost start, if you let go of your hips think about specifically, your hips you, find almost as if you could become a bit wobbly as if you've sort of for, a minute you know you might, wobble, over fall over and because. You're not holding. Anything anymore, so. This is really important. So try it and I, think to exaggerate, it is good if you move so if you think. Almost. As if you're doing a bit of salsa if you've done any salsa or it can just be any old movement, yeah so, you want your hips to be completely free now if there's. No one around you can just let go and you know really just have, fun with it's like you're at a wedding. Party and you've you know you've had a few to drink or whatever it's that kind of feeling so, that your, hips are really free, so. Get used to enjoy that feeling you can think. About that spot where your legs meet your, where. Your legs connects, to your hips and your pelvis in that area think of that being just really loose and you can almost feel, it this is what I was talking about that being, able to have that feedback that sensory, feedback you, can feel that almost, as if there's kind of you. Know those joints are really lubricated, and loose and limber yeah so. I would keep doing that maybe even walk around the room and. Then I'll bring my shoulders into it so again moving your shoulders up and down making. Sure they're loose and then. Finally thinking about your neck being free at the same time. So. After. You've done that for a while you should feel really loose and sort of, limbered. Up supple. Ready, to go, and. I would make sure that I do that before, before. I've even you, know thought about making any vocal noises because. This is the foundation, you know if I. Sometimes, you know if I'm in a rush to learn some music or something I'll go straight to the piano and, often. Those are the worst sessions. Because you know you're struggling, against, it if there's any tension there already it's not gonna magically go away you have to consciously, think, about it so do, the physical loosening up first. So. The second aspect. Of, this, is, adding. An intention. To the sound and. This. I can't, overstate enough how important, this is and actually was interesting because Frederic, long talked about this he, was referring to consonants, in his lesson but the idea of, you. Know from, an audience perspective. Believing. That someone means, what they're singing. And, there's lots of ways you can do that but you have to that's, something that you have to feel and think about you, know the, last thing you want to do is see a singer who's kind of and you do get this sometimes where you see, people who are almost you can see they're thinking about the note that's coming up they're doing something with it you know and and it, sort of spoils the illusion of what really making.
Music Making art is all about so. Adding. Intention, to it is really. Important. And. Also. The benefit of that is that as you, do that automatically. Your, body starts to respond, and breathe and do all the right things that it needs to without. You thinking about it, if. You were trying to grab someone's attention for example who's. You know over. There somewhere. You. Would just say hey you. You would automatically. Your body has done so many things that you haven't thought oh I need to take a big breath before I catch this person's attention you haven't thought oh I need to engage, something. You know it just happens, and so. Your body's remarkable, in the way that it can do this so if you have the right intention. The right direction of thought a lot. Of this stuff can happen by, itself and, you can focus on the, thing that you're actually trying to communicate. So. I'm. Going to what, I use for this is a few words so. It's. Gonna be hey. You. Who. You. And. What. I'd like to do is play, with the intention so imagining, I'm trying to get someone's attention I'm gonna say hey. You. And then, imagining, and the other person I might respond who, with. That kind of question, mark, inflection. Who. You. And then. That really emphasis. On the final you so it's hey, you. Who. You. So. Those are the four things that I want to say now, the. Idea behind this is that because you've got a clear intention imagining. A person over there you're trying to catch your attention a lot, of this, stuff that I've talked about the muscles will be working automatically. But. To make sure that no extra attention, does creep in which it might often, a lot. Of people struggle with is their neck goes, forward, you. Might have another issue, but. In order to sort of stop those other bad habits or other things creeping in I want to bring back the movement, the keeping. Loose so. I might, walk on the spot and you can do this kind of in a rhythm is quite useful so you might do one. Side making. Sure finding, that's that. Place, where your hips are really loose and really free and then, loosen your shoulders and again, the more silly we're more ridiculous, you feel the better and then, your neck is loose as well and.
Then. We, can try saying these words over the top of it so I again say hey. You. Who. You. Okay. So, I would do that a few times just get used to it and you might already feel. Certain. Muscles activating, but I don't, want you to think about it I just want you to let it happen and focus on what you're communicating. So. You can play around with that play around with the intention do it in different ways you, can say instead of hey you can say hey, you, know play around with it and walk around the room whilst, keep, there's, only two things and ask you to think about is to keep loose and to. Have a clear intention. As you're doing it so. Now, I think let's try that with some singing, it's. A singing lesson after, all so. I'm. Gonna take a phrase you, could use this with anything. A warm-up or a song that you'll singing a phrase of a song that you sing in at the moment, I'm. Gonna take a phrase from the. Song the Vagabond from songs, of travel this is Vaughan. Williams and. The. Opening, line, is give two me the life I love let, the lathes go by me and, in. In. My own time what I would do is play around with just speaking that phrase. In lots of different ways give to me the life I love let. The lathe go by me you, know play around with it just explore, all the different intentions. And emotions I can I can infuse into that but, we've already done some speaking, so I'm gonna teach you the the. Notes of this phrase. And. It goes like this, give. To me the life, I, love, let. The lathe go by me. Done. It one more time, sing, along give. To me the life, I, love, let. The lathe go by me. Okay. Good so those that's, just the notes that's how it goes, but. What I want to do now is add this. Intention. Into. It so what's my intention here now, the. Best way to do is it's just to play with extremes. You know there's later on I'll talk about finding the right kind of emotion. The right intention, but, to begin with you just want to explore. The explore all the options yeah, so an easy one to do is like excitement, it's a really clear thought so if. I try to do this face but I'm really, channeling. Just pure excitement it, might look like this. Give. To me the life I love, let. The life go pie me. Okay. So you, have a go do it in your own way and then I could play around with doing it maybe I'll try I could try it in this kind of more despairing, kind of way. Give. To me the life I, love, let. The leaf go by me. And. There's. So many ways you can do that and.
Hopefully. I mean when I do that and I'm not even thinking about what quality, of sound and that's, coming out of my mouth and hopefully you're not either you're just thinking about what, it is that you're trying to what, emotion, you're trying to convey. So. Then. What I would do is get, the movement in to make sure that I'm loose because again it could be easy I might be in a recital I might. Be in a tight spot and I just you know it's easy to get stuck then you might you know if you had if it was something else you had a score give. To and it's quite it's easy to get really stuck so. For now that's that's loosen that up by keeping those, hips moving Walker. I mean, you know it's silly but just go go with it embrace it so. I'd walk around space get. Those shoulders loose hips loose and your neck is free and then try the same thing so I'm gonna go back, to the kind of excited, excited, energy. And it's, gonna be like this but keeping loose so ready. Give. To me the life I love, let. The life go by me. Okay. So already that's starting to feel it feels a bit ridiculous, but I started, filled yes I'm communicating something, I've got that feeling. Certain. Satisfaction that, comes with sort of knowing that you've got your message out. So. What, you then want to do obviously I. Might some of you might be thinking already, well. I am not exactly going to start moving around when I'm doing a recital or a concert or something like that so. What you it's. Possible to do is to, slowly. Reduce, that movement, without, losing, the sense of freedom and. You. Can you again, you can feel this in your body you can feel when your neck is tensile when your neck is free you can feel your shoulders so, gradually, you can maybe as you're practicing it do the phrase start and really moving and then gradually, less less. Movement until you're, sort of still. But, you. Don't feel fixed, so you should still be able to feel that your hips are kind of loose almost that, you could be sort of not. That you can be blown over because you're you know the weight of your body is rooted but that, you've got that flexibility. In, your body as you're, standing still so.
You Can try that try. Singing the phrase but keeping. A little bit more still and. Then. Finding. A, more. Kind of appropriate, emotion. If you like for, the phrase, that you're singing and that might be you might have various, different emotions within one piece so. I might, let's. Say excitement, maybe isn't the right one for this song so I might find. I don't. Know. I'll. Channel, a feeling of just I. Don't have to put this in the words but just what the words say give to me the life I love you know let. Anything else go let the world go by I'm just gonna just give to me this thing so that's what I'm telling. Give. To me the life I, love, let. The leave go by me. Okay. So that's I mean it's not perfect but it's just an idea of what I will play with them my process, from first. You know looking for music freeing. It up and then try to eventually, home to a place where I can actually perform it, so. I hope that's been useful for, you you found something interesting, there. I. Mentioned. I had some homework to do from the last session from Susanna. Which, I find really useful and it's actually especially useful in. The phrase and this song and she, was talking about singing. When. You're about to sing something thinking of the consonant, at the same pitch that you're about to open the vowel on. Which. Is great for this because there's a phrase at the end of the verse that. Says. There's there's, the life for, a man like me and if. I'm sort of too caught up in the character I might reverse, the, life and not really think about where. I'm placing that first, sound. So, I found this useful so on on. This note I'm gonna take Susanna's advice and and start, verse. And, this. Phrase actually has a lot of and. Mm-hmm. So I can really enjoy using this approach so. Here, we go I'm gonna have a go. There's. The. Life for, man like, me. So. There you go that's a I've. Done my homework now, and. I'd also like to set some homework for whoever, is. Gonna take the next singing lesson and for you at home which. Is just to take any phrase of. A piece of music that you're looking at working on at the moment and. Try. It while, moving keeping. Those hips loose, whoever. Does this next lesson is going to love me for this keep those hips hips loose keep those shoulders loose keep your neck loose and then.
Give It with a really, clear intention. Give, try that phrase out with a really clear intention, so, that's my homework I hope. You've enjoyed this, lesson got something from it. To. Find out more about how, English. Touring opera are supporting, their artists, or if, you'd like to support them actually then. Head to the website which is English, touring opera org, dot, uk' for, more information, so. Thanks that's all from me and see you. Again.