Last week we spent a long time on solos, on rep and individual songs but this this week, I wanted to try something new! I asked everyone to learn, ‘She Used To Be Mine.’ from Waitress.
I was curious to know what would happen if we all took one song and worked it together, over and over, trying out as many ideas as we had time for.
After warm up, we all sung it through. I joined in, which was novel and as I spend most of my days talking about singing and not getting to actually do it! I wanted to be part of this exercise so I could really interrogate my own advice. Was this going to be beneficial?
I wondered if we’d all be able to let go of limiting self consciousness if we sung together. This was play time not 'get it perfect,' time. Would that offer a freedom to explore, learn and observe.
So we all took a separate space and went for it.
It’s a TOUGH song! There are very low notes, very quiet high notes, there’s speech quality, belt, mix, emotion, storytelling. It’s all in there and needs technical ability and muscularity, with absolute emotional and commitment and without tension!
At the end we discussed just how hard this song was, but also why it’s currently the most popular Musical Theatre song for woman.
Some people struggled with the belt section near the end, others with the quiet high notes. Some found the lowest notes a challenge. For me, I found the note ‘Mine,’ the hardest. It repeatedly sits in a place in my voice that felt unsteady, as if it wasn’t sure where to be placed.
Over the lesson we tried it in as many different ways. We used exercises to encourage ‘tilt,’ we used SOVT, we sung on open vowels, we used muscular gestures to engage support, exercises to isolate focus on a relaxed jaw, and on the tongue, on twang and on release of physical tension.
Which ones helped? Which ones didn’t?
I believe that there’s a simplicity to singing: If an exercise makes singing feel freer and easier then it’s doing you good. If it feels tense and tricky then leave it for the moment.
At the end of the lesson, we all had exercise that had helped and some that hadn’t so much and it was time to sing the song through one more time with one last rule.
'FORGET EVERYTHING EXCEPT FEELING THE MUSIC AND THE STORY'
Perhaps it was the repetition - like dancing, singing a song over and over encourages an ease of movement and muscle memory - but it certainly felt much easier to sing.
Perhaps it was pushing us out of our comfort zone? Trying techniques that we wouldn’t usually use.
Perhaps it was the freedom to sound stupid and to give over to a song in the safety of a group?
I found it helped me and I’m starting to think this is just the beginning of a way of working that I want to explore. I think that this is the way to break through our ‘shoulds’ and habits and explore the full capacity of the voice.