Why You Need to Use Your Imagination as a Singer
One of my best friends is a trumpet player and he's constantly sending me links to videos and blog posts about music that are ultra inspiring.
The latest one was all about aural imagination. Check it out below.
There were a number of quotes from Hal's masterclass that really jumped out at me.
"YOU ARE THE INSTRUMENT"
To singers, the statement "you are the instrument" may seem more obvious, but we often blame our body for things going wrong, forgetting that singing uses our mind, body and emotions. I find that the body is much easier to train than the other two!
So yes, he is a piano player which is different, but we can learn a lot from all musicians no matter the instrument. The only difference with the voice is whether or not your technique or your instrument can do what you ideally want.
Let's give an example where Hal's wise words would definitely apply.
You have been practising a certain section of a song over and over (because you're just amazing and dedicated to deep practice like that) and some of the time all the notes are coming out with ease and sounding pretty good to your ear and other attempts just fall flat.
You have proved that you can do it so why is it not consistent?
Is the way you're doing it consistent in regards to your body, mind AND your emotions? Remember that every slight change is going to affect the sound because YOU ARE THE INSTRUMENT.
"IF YOU CAN'T HEAR IT, YOU CAN'T PLAY IT"
People often look at me dumbfounded when I ask them what they want it to sound like (and they always say "good" or "not terrible would be nice").
When you're learning a skill you often don't feel as though you have enough knowledge to make that call, or you underestimate what you're capable of and are afraid of experimenting.
The reason this question is important is - if you don't have clarity around what sound you are wanting to make, how can you expect your mind, body and emotions to all align to that sound? They have to have clear direction!
How bright do you want the tone?
Is it clear as a bell or more of a falsetto?
If you're not able to play it in your head as you would like it to come out, you need to start practicing this skill.
Start listening to other artists and analysing their voices.
What do you like/dislike about their tone?
Play around with different tones using your own voice more so you can realise what sounds you have to choose from.
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"THE VIVIDNESS OF YOUR AURAL IMAGINATION"
Are you simply able to hear the tune or are you able to hear the intention, the energy behind it?
How loud is it?
How passionate is it?
Is it relaxed and slightly somber or does it have the energy of a marching band behind it?
If you simply listen to the notes in your head without any character, it will come out in pitch but lacking that certain something.
As Hal says in the video about Dizzy Gillespie, you want to be able to hear it vividly to give you insight into how to approach it with your instrument.
WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU PLAY?
This is a brilliant question to ask yourself for many reasons.
Are you 100% in the moment, giving every note your full attention or are you panicking about that phrase in the bridge that scares you more than clowns and spiders combined?
Are you trying to practice a certain technique with focus but finding that your mind wanders to worrying about another technique, negative self talk or wondering what you should have for dinner tonight?
Are you FEELING the music?
These questions are ones that help you find out whether your mind and emotions are working for you or against you when you're singing (and they could change every time you sing it). As Hal says, these things are trainable - but you have to be aware of them first.