The best singers are great communicators. One of the most neglected skills that a singer must develop in order to be effective communicator is the ability to interpret material in a way that evokes a desired response from the listener. In all of Brett Manning’s programs communication skills are deemed as being every bit as important as technical skills, if not more so.
One way to hone your communication skills is through group exercises that engage and challenge interpretive technique. So, we’ve put together a simple, fun plan for working with fellow artists and friends in a non-threatening atmosphere along with a game plan that offers some worthy challenges that will help to make you more flexible, adaptable, and inventive in your approach to the material you sing or create.
Set aside a few hours every two weeks for a group exercise on interpretive skills. Keep the assignments simple at first but add to them as you feel it’s needed. This exercise can be engaged each meeting with different material or with new spins on the same material. Use your imagination coupled with the specific needs of your group to customize your assignments.
For the first meeting ask everyone who will be attending to bring the following: a piece of poetry they feel strongly about, a recipe for something they love, and a glowing review of a film, book, or television show they hated. Get as close to the suggested items as possible. If all else fails show up with a poem, a recipe, and a review.
Kicking The Goals
The goal of this first meeting is to perform a round of singing the poem, a round of singing the recipe, and a round of singing the review. It’s that simple. But your goal is to convey how you truly feel about the written piece you sing. To make things more challenging, assign an overriding emotional to each round. Let’s say the poetry round will have “anger” as its theme. The recipe round will have “ecstasy” as its theme. And the review round will have a theme of “sorrow.”
Confused? Annoyed? But wait, here’s the challenge. Let’s say you have a poem you absolutely love. Ask yourself what it is that makes you feel so strongly about the poem. Then ask yourself how in the world you can convey what moves you about the poem while singing it as an angry piece. The same challenge exists with the recipe. What are your favorite ingredients? How does it taste? Then ask yourself how in the world you can get across what you love most while singing it as an over the top ecstatic rave. Finally, tackle the review by reminding yourself about what you detest while fighting back tears through your depressing dirge.
Panel Of Judges
It’s a good idea to invite one to three people who serve as outside, objective parties to provide feedback and help gauge what you’ve projected. These people (or person) should ideally serve as the meeting facilitator.
Use your imagination with future meetings. Move to bringing in specific pieces of music that are a challenge and play with different emotions and spins on the interpretation of the material. The more comfortable you get with these exercises the more open and flexible you will be in meeting interpretive challenges and in getting across the true meaning of what you’re singing.
It’s simply a fun way to play with nuance, hidden meanings, overriding feelings, that all play a role in delivering the message of a song. Your interpretive skills and ability to clearly communicate are vital to your singing success.