Singing with Confidence

“No matter if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.” Sing, Sing, Sing a Song, Joe Raposo 1972

A singing workshop is a great way to get the New Year off to a positive start.  Singing releases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins into the brain, lifting the January blues and relieving stress. It’s great physical exercise, raising oxygen levels in the blood, encouraging deep breathing and giving your lungs and facial muscles a workout. Singing is good for you mentally, giving an increased feeling of self-esteem and wellbeing: It’s very hard not to feel happy when you sing. Singing is also a really good way to communicate, build a sense of community and teamwork, and let off steam. Workshop Leader, Matthew Forbes says, “Any group of singers has a different dynamic to it, as it is a human organism. The excitement of discovering this and of joining it from the inside is without comparison.”

The Music Workshop Company’s singing workshops are fun, uplifting and educational, and our expert workshop leaders tailor the session to suit your class or group.

Once you’ve seen the benefits of a singing workshop, you may want to run your own singing sessions. This is a great way to compliment our workshops, or to make singing a regular group activity in your school or workplace. However, not everyone feels confident about singing, particularly when leading a group, so the MWC team have put together some tips and ideas to get you started.

Singing Workshops for Non-Singers

Start with some warm up exercises that involve stretching the body. This can help get everyone energised and boost confidence. Move your face: Smile, frown, wiggle your eyebrows, yawn… And get your body moving too.

Think about posture. Stand with your head over your heart and your heart over your pelvis. This is a nice way of getting a relaxed alignment. Keep your head in a neutral position and don’t stick your chin out. If you are leading the workshop, positive body language will make you feel more confident about singing.

You will be more conscious of your breathing when you sing than you are normally. Allow your lower abdomen to relax so you can properly fill your lungs. As you sing, contracting your abdomen in a controlled way will help support the breath.

Here’s a good, quick set up to start a singing workshop, from Sarah, one of our Workshop Leaders…

“Everyone stand, feet hip width apart, and feel the floor with your feet. Raise your big toe only, and then release. Feel yourself rebalance. 

Next, gently lean forward, hanging down, with your knees released. Gently roll back up the spine to standing and continue to raise your arms to the sky in a big stretch.

Bring your arms down to your sides, and place one hand on your belly, below your tummy button. Breathe in. Next, blow out candle an imaginary candle. Feel how the lower tummy follows through. Try this a few times. This is where breath should originate for singing.”

Do some vocal warm ups which involve making silly noises. Stand your group in a circle and play a game, challenging each person to make a sound entirely different from the previous person. You can make whoops, screams and other silly noises. This is great fun and really helps get past the shyness, fear and even emotional discomfort that some people feel about singing. You can even develop this into a piece of music by laying it over a pulse created by clapping or stamping and having someone lead different combinations of individual sounds.

Don’t label yourself or any of your participants as tone deaf. Many people lack confidence and practice at singing, particularly as adults, especially if their singing was criticised when they were children. Recent research conducted by the BBC for a musicality test exploring whether enthusiasm for music rather than formal training alone helps confer ability found that only a very small proportion of the population are truly tone deaf.

Downham-Whitefoot Community Choir 100813

If you’re running a workshop for adults it might be an idea to spend some time sharing stories of childhood singing experiences. These might be good experiences or bad. Make this into a game that will make people laugh and unify the group. If you’re working with children, get them to help make up a song about things they love doing. Include actions and drawings to engage all the senses.

Ask participants to make fluctuating and non-fluctuating sounds, imitating noises like sirens and telephone dialling tones.

Try some note matching exercises. Instead of singing or playing a note and then asking participants to match it, ask them to sing a tone first, which you then match. Your participants are then effortlessly singing in tune with another person, perhaps for the first time.

Remember, the less ‘perfect’ you can make the singing in any of these games, the more inhibitions will drop away. Focus on good breathing and confidence before working on sound or pitch, so you’re working on a level where everyone can succeed.

Don’t forget, it’s National Sing Up Day on March 14th 2014. Have a look at the Sing Up website for loads of ideas, songs and activities, and contact us to book your singing workshop!

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