Words and meaning (sourced on Snappa, February 2023)

Singers use words. Other than the fact that we use our entire body as our instrument (as opposed to playing an instrument that is external to us), powered by breath, the fact that we use language is what differentiates us from other musicians. The breath impulse is literally created by the inspiration to communicate an idea. “Ah!” we exclaim, when we have a new thought, literally in-spiring/in-haling at the moment of inspiration. This is what fuels our singing phrase.

Too often, though, we are busy in our heads listening to our sound and self-editing it. The words (never mind their meanings) are secondary. We get further and further away from any kind of inspirational, creative impulse, and instead find ourselves monitoring our every move (and usually finding it wanting).

The last few weeks have felt busy and full, and time for much reflection about my purpose. What is the meaning of it all? As we seem to be coming out of a pandemic haze and connecting more regularly with others, there just seems to be so much to process. Many of my students have been (already!) been having culminating projects, performances and auditions, all of which require intense focus and attention to detail. But in all the deep desire to communicate, we can become too focused on the outcome and sometimes miss out on the real connection that centring on meaning provides.

I’ve noticed increasingly that when singers pay attention to what the words MEAN, their bodies want to support this endeavour. Their instrument becomes singularly focused and intent on expressing what they want to say, so long as their intent is clear. If we lose sight of the meaning, we fail to connect. And connection is everything. So we need to really mean what we say and say what we mean. We need to mean it with our whole being. And then singing takes care of itself.