For inspiration for my first blog post, I looked to my favorite blogs (Life Hack and Zen Habits). The authors of both blogs always use something they know about to give advice or explain things. So my post is going to be lessons I learned from being in my school chorus.
Now, I love to sing. And I’m pretty good at it (not to be cocky). It’s one of the few things I do that keeps me from overloading myself with stress. But my insane but amazing choral director has managed to teach me some valuable lessons while I released my stress into singing.
1. Put your body into it.
I can’t even count how many times my choral director has yelled this at the top of his lungs at us. I’m a soprano, and when the sopranos aren’t getting the high notes, he forces us to stand so we have to use our entire bodies to sing. You may be thinking, “Ok this blog sucks, this girl is giving me pointless singing tips.” But I’ve found that no matter what I do, if I put my whole body into it, the best product that I can possibly produce comes out as a result. For example, I’m working on a term paper right now. Unless I devote my entire being to that paper, nothing gets done on it. I can sit for three hours working on it while talking to my friends online and checking my email at the same time, but unless I devote my whole self to something, the quality will be greatly decreased.
2. Listen to each other.
This is said particularly when my chorus is performing a capella pieces. To know your own part is great, but unless everyone listens to each other, the pitch and rhythms won’t flow together. The piece will sound messy and ill-rehearsed. Think about the last time you had a disagreement with your best friend, mom, or significant other. Chances are it was because one or both of you hadn’t been really listening, and there for you weren’t “in tune” (excuse my awful music puns) with how each other was feeling. If everyone listened 50% more, there would be so many less misunderstandings and arguments in the world.
This could go hand and hand with listening I suppose. If you run out of breath in the middle of a phrase, you’re not in sync with your other musicians. It’s also hard to sing if you don’t support yourself with enough breath. My chorus teacher has yelled it at us enough times for it to stick with me: during tests, when i’m having an argument with my 12 year old brother, and when i don’t understand the precalculus homework and it’s 11 p.m. and i want to start crying. Taking a breath can do wonders in any situation that has the potential to stress you out.
4. Get off that phone!
Ok, this doesn’t directly have to do with chorus, but it’s something that I’ve taken from chorus and applied to my life. Of course, when we are in chorus, people text and play with their phones. It’s a group of teenage girls who just spent an entire day learning and working hard – of course they’re going to be sneaking their phones. But I realized this school year that I’ve grown much too attached to my cellphone. When I think I’ve misplaced it, I get stressed and search everywhere and yell at my brother because he hides it on me sometimes. So I took my choral director’s advice and got off the phone. Every day for about two hours or so, I turn off my phone and put it in my room. I read a book, maybe study a few things, I talk to my mom, I help her cook dinner or clean the kitchen. Simply turning off your cellphone, computer, blackberry, whatever it is – is a great way to quiet your mind and relax for a while.
5. Attendance is important.
I’m absolutely terrible at this. My choral director is s stickler for attendance. If you were in school and you miss chorus, he calls you down on the announcements and he yells at you. Or better, if you’re in his class – which I am – he yells at you in front of the class. I’ve come up with a ton of excuses as to why I couldn’t go to chorus: I have a ton of homework and I have no time, I need to pick up my brother for my mom, I have a headache and can’t sit in a room with people singing. But this year I decided that I needed to be more diligent about attendance. I realized two things: 1. It wastes other people’s time if the whole chorus isn’t there. 2. it’s a reflection of you to the teacher. No matter what kind of commitment you have: chorus, sports, a club, a class, or anything else; you should try to be good about attendance – in the long run, if the chorus director knows you’re always there and working hard, he’ll pick you over someone who isn’t for the solo :]
More important than supporting your voice in my chorus is supporting each other. I’m in the vocal ensemble, which is the select chorus. We stay late, which none of us are ever happy about. We have to learn a dance this spring. An Irish jig. We have one member who Irish jigs. We’re all going to have trouble, but it’s important to support each other because we’re only as strong as the weakest member. Although there’s girls who maybe don’t get along, everyone is supportive, because we are all in the same boat: we’re tired, we have 5 tests tomorrow, and we need sleep desperately. Supporting others is a huge thing in life. You can’t be independent all of the time. There is going to be group projects, jobs where you have to work with others, and you can’t go through life only supporting your self. Everyone needs support. I think that’s the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my insane director screaming at us because we’re talking and none of us know the words to the song a week before the concert. If everyone supported everyone else, this world would be so much more beautiful of a place.
If you have some feedback or an opinion, feel free to comment this post or shoot me an email (located on the about me page).