SingProv – the method, the maddness

Fun with Improvised SingingMy first foray into sharing the joy I experience from the freedom and unknown of improvised singing went pretty well. A four week class focused on finding the fun in your mind, body, and voice when it is allowed to make the sounds it feels like making to music.
A lot of people think it must be terrifying to do improvised singing. And I’m not talking about scatting here, but making up songs on the spot, usually within a made up scene, sung by a made up character. But, for some reason, I always found it easier than improvising without songs. The music would just carry me to wherever the creativity was, and I’d open my mouth and wait to see what happened along with everyone else.  I guess I just trust music.
And yes, it gets easier with practice, but there is a freedom and a joy to beginners that I was eager to find and capture and try to extend into a singing improv career for my students.
The class focuses on the three things that I have found free people:
1. being a beginner and not knowing anything you can do wrong, so you are unafraid and unedited
2. really focusing vividly on a moment in time you feel strongly about, letting the emotion of the moment write the song in your head and through your voice
3. aligning yourself stylistically with a song or singer’s style and letting that style you love sing through you
A great group of students helped me hone all the exercises we made up to eek wonderful songs out of some first time singers, and free some old hands to do great things.
I am looking forward to teaching SingProv again in September. The experiment in creation that is my reason for being here continues. If you are in Austin, Texas, hope you can join me.
LINK to SingProv class info and sign up

Are you doing something to free your creativity? Please share it here! I would love to hear.  Also please share your blog links or other links and news here in comments.  I would love to know what’s up with my readers.

Thanks for reading.  Kind regards,

Susannah Raulino


2 responses to “SingProv – the method, the maddness

  1. Well this post brought back some really visceral memories. I was maid of honor at my sister’s wedding, and selected by her to do a reading in a large church, aided by somehting I had little experience of – a microphone. Oh my. Such an enhanced sense of your own voice when you hear it in a mic all around you too.

    We were all zonked out and running on adrenaline by the time the hour to leave for the church arrived. There was a loing saga of events leading up to this day, and the net of was that I had had about 6 hours sleep in 3 days. At the point of actually reading, unbeknown to me, my poor brother in law soon to be was hyperventilating, with my sister trying in vain to calm him down by little squeezes of the hand. I’d not even had time to glance at the reading I was doing until I was in the car on the way to the church.

    I got up to the podium paper in hand. Finding no place to put it, I pulled the big Bible forward just enough to drop the paper irretrievably behind it on the lectern. As soon as I dropped my eyes to the page I realized in horror that the reading I had scrambled through in the car was not the same as the one I’d just let go of the lifeline for. I decided that I’d just read very slowly and calmly, pushing my finger along the lines to keep my place since no one could see me but the priest, and wing it the best I could. Summoning every ounce of my best Toastmasters training, I started.

    I can not tell you how strong the sudden urge I had to break into a Gregorian chant was. I had threatened to sing the day before and my sister told me that I’d better not, and all of a sudden i was seized by this feeling that spong was the right thing to do. I resisted the temptation but it was a real struggle. The church was in fact a Benedictine Abbey and maybe that had something to do with it, but to this day, the memory of that urge remains with me. Instead I read, slowly and carefully. My sister later reported to me that at that point, her nearly husband simply took a great big sigh and completely relaxed, and so did she. I got through the reading, and sat down. All the internal panic and unseen drama being played out at the altar we shared later, and still laugh about it today. Gregorian chant, improvised, ..whatever next?

    Do you know what I think would be a fun thing to do? Call up Mr Jacobsen, and offer to teach a 1 day improv class in Seattle including singing …with Tom Skerritt, and watch the hordes roll in.

    I’m completely serious. What do you think?

  2. Susannah Raulino

    What a fantastic story. I really want to hear your improvised Gregorian Chant!
    And, yes, I love the idea of arranging an improv/improvised singing workshop at the Film School when I and my musical improviser, David, are up in Seattle. What would be a good idea is to do is coordinate the timing with the improv festival in Seattle, so our troupe can play too. I will look up when that is! Thanks for the great idea!

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