‘I don’t know what happens to me on stage. Something else seems to take over.’ These words of Maria Callas, the famous American soprano singer, reflects what many people feel when they sing from the heart or from the soul, an experience where they are uplifted from their everyday selves and get in touch with a deeper reality at the core of their being. In the words of Nobel Prize-winning poet and composer Rabindranath Tagore: ‘Music is the purest form of art… therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music… The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.’
Here are some techniques for singing soulfully that singers can try.:
- Have a moment or two of silence before singing, focusing on remaining centred in the heart rather than outside distractions. As the old Chinese proverb goes ‘If I keep a green bough in my heart, then the singing-bird will come to sit on it.’ The Indian musician and composer Sri Chinmoy, for example, suggests that in the silence one can try and invoke some fundamental qualities of singing – consciousness, soulfulness, confidence and oneness to name a few.
- Singing powerfully and singing soulfully need not be contradictory – indeed one can help the other. One visualisation that might help you do is to imagine, whilst singing powerfully, that you are holding a bowl filled to the brim of water inside you and you don’t want to spill any of it, you don’t even want to cause ripples on the surface of the water. In this way you can feel the inner strength in which power and stillness come together.
- When singing from the heart, it helps to draw the attention to the heart by putting one’s hand to one’s chest, especially for beginners. This enables one to feel first the physical vibration in the centre of the chest, then the spiritual feeling of being in the heart. In Hindu and Buddhist singing and chanting, a special hand position called the anjali mudra is often used, folding the hands in the centre of the chest so that the two thumbs are touching the centre of the chest – in the West, we are of course familiar with this as the prayer position.
- When singing in groups, the primary quality to focus on is oneness between the group members. Try and not listen for the sound of your own voice in the chorus, but rather imagine that there is only one solid voice emanating from the chorus that all the individual voices have blended into, that the voice of the entire chorus is emanating from one’s own being.
Source by Sean Mac Aodh