Saturday Night Songs

Saturday Night Songs

So there is a fun party on across the road. Saturday night and their voices can be heard above the crickets and the warm breeze. Laughing, clinking of glasses and voices raised in drunken song. Old songs. One that are classics. Ones that most of us know. Ones that invite us to join in, as if it is participating in the old ritual of communal storytelling.

“Summer nights” is always a favourite. Those notes at the end really show who has their upper vocal range working in order. The alcohol that lubricates the vocal cords (which is in fact completely false) seems to allow enough disinhibition to permit people to open their mouths and throats and join in the sing-a-long. Singing brings people together. Laughter can often be heard at the ends of these songs. Smiles would be seen if i could see them in action.

So what makes us be able to let go and sing on a Saturday night, but withhold our voices at other times? Where it is socially acceptable to be making such noises and have a sing? On the street? At the bus stop? At a wedding? A funeral? Khe San, anyone…Queen? The list goes on.

I have had many clients who present with voice trouble. They lose their voices for a number of reasons. I have had more than the fair share of karaoke singers who are saddened to know that their nightly straining without proper training lends them to hurting their voices. Some so badly that the dream of singing in the near future is nigh impossible. Good technique counts for a lot. Vocal awareness, and good vocal care greatly reduces the risk of injury.

For many of us singing is a chance for us to connect with ourselves, feel better, let go of the day or week we may have had. Some of us sing in the car: a road trip wouldn’t be complete without a group sing to while away the miles. Some of us sing in the shower, sing in choirs, in bars, in pubs, at parties. Some of us “sing” performance style. 8 shows a week.

Some only sing when they have had a few too many. I am not surprised. Singing can make us feel really good. It can also make us feel highly vulnerable and exposed. Often my clients in their first st session say to me “You’re not going to make me sing are you?” They often laugh and giggle when I demonstrate some simple vocal exercises for them to do. For many it is foreign, and to make sound in front of a stranger can feel too intimate, too close. They get embarrassed, shy, uncomfortable. I understand this. Making sound is a powerful experience. As kids we would make sound a lot. We might experiment with making sounds. I taught my brother to burp as he reminded me a few years ago. As adults, often this “childish” pursuit seems once again foreign. There is less pleasure in it. A little like dancing or finger painting.

So, how do we become friends again with sound? With singing? With our speaking voice? And are we able to do it without some kind of alcoholic “assistance” I am not going to say “Go on. Have a go now at making sound. Have a sing”, for I dislike it when people are told what to do when reading something(!) Particularly when it pertains to their voice. It can be too daunting. And it can feel a bit silly.

Next time, though when you are making some sort of sound, perhaps of the singing or nearly singing variety, venture a little further into it. See what your voice can do. And more importantly see how it feels to make the sound. Can it feel pleasurable? You might well be surprised.

Go on. Take a gamble, in the words of Kenny.