I just came back from a fabulous choral workshop with Dr. Jim Sparks. I love how he approaches choral music. Why? Because it’s all about the brain and how we think about and experience music before we even make a sound with our voices.
Did you know that if you are a singer your corpus collosum (the “highway” that runs between both sides of your brain) is thicker than those who don’t sing? He explained that the right side of our brain is where we perceive pitch (the sound of the notes) and the left side of our brain deciphers the text (words of the song). So singing engages your entire brain. Not only that, but if you just THINK about singing the music, your brain is active and engaged in learning the music, even before you make a sound.
So that conductor in me says, “You can rehearse music anywhere!” You can practice your songs on the bus without making a sound as your “inner ear” does most of the work. In fact, hearing the music in your head first is better than just jumping in and singing it. As soon as you engage your vocal muscles in making the sound, you are creating “muscle memory.”
So much going on when we sing that we don’t even think about. But once our ducks are in a row (a solid sense of the rhythm that is visceral, thinking about the placement of the notes and phrase before we sing them, a relaxed jaw and neck, and a grounded breath), everything else falls into place and we can just enjoy the sound that we all make together as a community.
But that’s a whole other ball of wax…