Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Barefoot Singing"

Dear Readers,

You have been with me since the beginning of this blog two years ago.  Each post I have offered you has been a little snapshot.  In the beginning, frequent snapshots, and as we've moved along, more occasional snapshots, of my quest and life as a developing avocational singer.

Just because you haven't heard from me does not mean that a lot of singing and growing has not gone on in between these snapshot moments I have offered you.  My quest to master my singing voice and find out exactly who I am as a singer has continued, even though as part of that quest you have seen me apparently side-tracked by Kung Fu, or the new-found interest in Barefoot Running.

If any of you have clicked over on the Barefoot Fresca blog, you have seen me be very active over there exploring a completely new experience.  Barefoot running actually ended up shaking up my world and changing a lot of the way I feel and think about things.  Barefoot running became the portal into being able to experience the utmost fulfillment and enjoyment of being a runner.  It was a niche that was waiting for me to find it.  It was a category of runner to which, heretofore unknown to me, I already belonged which had been waiting to reveal itself to me. All I had needed to do to find it was to take off my shoes.

For some time now, I have been mulling over just what way some of the experiences and knowledge from barefoot running might apply to the singing life.  If I found a niche in the running world that suits me so well, are there aspects of this niche that apply to me as a singer as well?

If I am a Barefoot Runner, is there some way that I can be a Barefoot Singer?

In the next post I will undertake the bold task of defining a new singing category, one that, like with the barefoot running, I belong to without having hitherto known I belonged.  One that suits me and is authentic to my experience as a person and as a singer. This shall become my new path, or perhaps not so new a path but rather a path that I have been on, but which shall now be more clearly defined for me and for all of you, and given a name.  The name assigned shall be a light upon the path.  The name of the new category will be "Barefoot Singing."

I am foggy on just exactly what "Barefoot Singing" will and should be, but in the next post I plan to shoot out some preliminary ideas and maybe as we go along, it will become clearer.

I know a couple of things already that this path will do.  It will, as barefoot running does, question conventional wisdom. It will demonstrate that there are other ways to think about things.  It will defy usual and standard recommendations. Stay posted!


"Avocational Singer,"  
henceforth AKA "The Barefoot Singer"


  1. Great to hear from you!! It's been a while. I know what you mean about finding a "niche". I have been struggling with this myself, although I may mean something different than you do. I began thinking about this when a colleague of mine, whose voice and range were not big enough for opera, began singing early music. My problem is that I have the perfect voice to be a Verdi mezzo (I have been told this by numerous people) but having started seriously singing at 54 I keep struggling with the last two or three notes (B flat, B natural, and God help me, C). Something else I know I sing well is Bach, and he wrote tons of great stuff for mezzos (well, altos, or sop 2s) that does not go either very high or very low, and which is a less crowded field to excel in. But I love singing Verdi and verismo, mostly at the moment confined so excerpts where I don't have to sing above A natural.

  2. How fascinating! I much prefer practicing bare footed! Bare feet ground me much more easily than feet bound in shoes. Now the problem is to transfer what I can do easily with no shoes to doing it with the same amount of ease wearing shoes!

  3. @babydram -- I am sure you will find your exact place in your singing world. You are on a continual search and you ask all the questions and are a deep thinker. One notion of "barefoot singing" I know must be there is that we can do way more at later ages of singing, especially with good technique/form, than many might expect.

    @Peg -- Even though "barefoot" singing is not necessarily about literally singing without your shoes on, I have a hunch -- though not yet the documentation nor evidence to bolster my theory -- that the alignment of the body when barefoot helps our whole singing mechanism work more efficiently than when standing in shoes that cause our pelvis to tilt and our stomach muscles to tense up like shoes with heels do. I even suspect that we breathe more naturally and correctly when our body is lined up the barefoot way.

  4. Your post sparks two thoughts:

    1. I'm sure you're right about the literal benefits to body alignment from barefoot singing. Most of the situations in which I sing would deem it inappropriate (and/or unwise) to be completely naked-footed, but that's no reason to push ourselves all out of whack with heels. (I gave up wearing heels when I took Alexander Technique lessons and realised the footwear was undoing a lot of my teacher's work!)

    2. I love how you express the sense of discovery of taking a new path, then realising you had been trying to be on it for a long time but didn't have the label to bring it into focus. I find the way a new passion gives new insights into established areas of expertise fascinating (going through a similar experience but in a very different area of activity myself at the moment), so thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. Thank you, Liz Garnett, for your kind comments. It definitely would be inappropriate to be completely naked-footed in many of the venues in which I sing. I have found a great pair of shoes I've been using for choir and for my cantor job where I have to be up on the altar. They are from the company Terra Plana and they are from that company's Vivo Barefoot line, Vivo Barefoot Kali. They are designed so that the foot is in a natural position like it is when it is barefoot, and the soles are thin enough so that the feet can feel the ground through them.

    Yet they are lasting too. I bought mine a year and a half ago and walk all over them and sing concerts in them and they are far from wearing out. They are expensive and I can't replace my whole shoe wardrobe overnight, but I eventually would like to invest in other shoes from this line. I love them!