Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Open My Mouth -- And Sing!

The kind of singing I want to do is larger than life.

Like a lot of things that are larger than life, it doesn't feel natural when first put on.  So, for a person who wants to feel natural, there can be a resistance to doing things the larger way.

When I was first learning Tai Chi forms, I learned a compact kind of form where the movements were small.

But then I moved on to learning a different form where the movements were longer and extended and took up more space.  At first no one explained to me that the new form was bigger, so I was still doing it with the smaller gestures.

It takes a kind of boldness to use the larger gestures.  It takes an openness and more strength.  It takes more energy and commitment.  It is a fuller use of self.

The reason the larger version is not comfortable or natural-feeling is because it is not within our repertoire of self-expression yet.  We never needed our expression to be that large for our daily life.  But something from a distance needs to be larger to be seen and heard.

I remember when I was in high school, our English teacher picked three of us from the class -- me and two of my girlfriends -- to paint a mural on the back wall of his classroom.  Up until that point, I had drawn on small canvases.  When I wanted to draw or paint a picture I used something close to 9" x 12."  Now as I confronted  the task of blowing up my vision and seeing something bigger, my brush strokes had to be bigger.  I had to reach above my head and go all the way down to my feet with my paintbrush.  I had to use my whole body to paint, not just my hand and arm and shoulder muscles. I had to work on a section while keeping a much larger picture in mind.  I had to understand when I was painting detail that it was going to be a small part of the whole, even though it seemed so large in front of me.

It's one thing to draw a 1" circle on a piece of paper, or a 4" circle or an 8" circle.  The bigger the circle gets, the larger the motion you have to use while holding the pencil.  But when we were painting that mural, we might have to draw a 6-foot circle.  Now a circle always comes out better when it is drawn with one or two big motions as opposed to chipped away at in choppy little sections.  The sense of roundness is different.

I am finally starting to understand just how big the kind of singing I want to be able to do is.

Part of the detail work, a part of singing which seemed so small, is to get my mouth open.  I must learn a larger way to form vowels, and work with a much larger space.

It is time to open my mouth now.

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