One of the things many singers struggle with is how to sing without tension.
If you know me, then you can guess my response for how to sing without tension has something to do with the mind/body effect on your singing technique.
There’s a quote in Star Wars that I love. When Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker, he says:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Singers, this is your mantra!!!
It applies to you in the same way it applies to Luke when he’s stuck in the swamp. When we try, we tend to force, manipulate, over-think and overdo which all causes physical tension. We tense because we don’t inherently trust ourselves to make the sound we want without any excess “trying”.
Luke tries to force a solution in the swamp and nothing is working. But when he heeds Yoda’s words, stops trying so hard and trusts his training and abilities, he is able to channel the Force to get the ship out of the swamp.
When we are in “try” mode, like Luke, we don’t believe we can get what we want unless we try really hard. And just like Luke, all that trying gets in the way of the talent and technique we already have. When that happens, we end up making the very sound we were seeking to avoid by trying so hard in the first place.
But when we can get out of our head and back into the present moment of our body, we stop trying so hard and begin to trust our training and our abilities (which is the main focus of the 4 Month Intensive I teach). We get in touch with the sensations of our efficient technique and we enable ourselves to “do” without the “try”.
Here’s a trick I use in my studio to help singers get out of the “try” (which becomes the cornerstone of how to sing without tension). It’s a way of hijacking your brain that builds trust so you can let go of trying in favor of just doing.
Just for today, give yourself permission to make a bad sound.
Be willing to make a bad sound in your lesson or practice. It is being willing that’s the most important part.
In my experience, “trying” is often linked to perfectionism.
We all want to improve – we all want to reach the potential of our voices – we all want to know how to sing without tension. But perfectionism in singing can lead to the kind of trying I’m talking about which causes tension, negatively effects your sound and doesn’t feel good.
Let yourself off the hook for having to be so perfect. Sing like you just don’t care! When there are no consequences, perfectionism goes out the window. The willingness to make a bad sound allows you to let go, to stop trying so hard and allow your body and your technique to work for you instead of against you.
So throw caution to the wind – allow yourself to be human rather then perfect!
Be present to the sensations in your body when you are willing to be imperfect. Sing for the love of singing and allow yourself to flow with the present moment of your technique in your body without end-gaining the sound at all.
Be willing to let yourself be perfectly imperfect. (click HERE for a tip on how to implement this into your singing)
You will be surprised at how resonant, supported and free the sound can be when you stop trying so hard and let your body do what it was trained to do. In this way you begin to build trust in your technique that you can draw on again and again.
P.S. The premise of this post is that you already have a solid technical foundation but are having a hard time accessing the potential of your voice. If you are someone who really wants to let go of the “trying” and is willing to be perfectly imperfect, but your sound actually worsens when you try the “make a bad sound” exercise, have no fear! The experiment has likely illuminated gaps in the foundation of your technique. Find a solidly trained teacher or reach out to me for lessons to address the technical issues. Once you do, you will be one step ahead of the game because you already understand the idea of “Do” instead of “Try”.