For the listener, a song can be a profoundly moving experience emotionally. A song can help someone grieve the loss of a loved one or friend. It can help relieve stress during tough times in a love relationship, work situation, or a tough day of tackling a lengthy to-do list. The right song can help to ease the pain and frustration that comes with loneliness. It can be an anthem of honor or a celebration of life.
For the singer a song really becomes a total workout. It engages the singer physically as it requires stamina, breath control, technique, restraint, and discipline. For the mind, it exercises interpretive skills taking to task the underlying meaning of a song through phrasing, nuances, and storytelling skills. A song often invites the singer to move emotionally from joy to sorrow to anger, from restraint to relief and back again. For the spirit a song can uplift or stretch to reach something higher or greater than whatâ€™s living within or as part of the spin of the world at large.
Songs of Note
Because of a songâ€™s potential power to move an audience, and because of a songâ€™s ability to impact areas of daily function for a singer, itâ€™s important to keep a journal, blog, or notes of some kind on the songs you sing as well as the songs that move you or challenge you in some way.
By cataloging songs that have a clear personal impact, you have a handy list ready for future reference when putting together a set list for an upcoming gig. You can also make notes on specific issues related to a song, such as grieving the loss of someone or celebrating recovery. In such cases you can then pull the song as a possible piece for an upcoming benefit youâ€™ve been asked to perform at, such as Relay For Life, an event that remembers those lost to cancer while celebrating those in recovery.
Your notes on songs can also serve a therapeutic purpose for you personally. You can find songs to help you release tears, express joy, reach higher or deeper spiritually, or you can find songs that simply provide a great workout or are just simply fun to sing.
Rate By Potential Workout
For each song, provide a short overview of what the song is about. Then, rate each song in terms of its most dynamic workout potential based on these four areas: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. Remember that each song is a vocal workout. But each song stresses or provides extra stretching in one or several of the four areas.
For The Mind
A good workout intellectually could be a song that is tongue-in-cheek or has a lot of double-meaning in its lyrics. Songs that stress a play on words or story songs give the singer a chance to frame steps in the story telling process, plot point by plot point, so they can be related interpretively. And, of course, any song that intrigues you or captures your imagination because youâ€™re not quite sure what it means, will challenge your intellect and interpretive skills.
A strong workout physically may be a song that has dense wordplay or includes a lot of tongue twisters. There may be alliteration or internal rhymes that can be tricky to pull off smoothly. There may be pieces where overemphasis on precise rhythmic punctuation is essential. A song may require major shifts in tempo, several key changes, or other complexities that are physically and vocally challenging.
A piece that shifts back and forth between tears and joy or humor would provide a great emotional workout. A good example would be Send In The Clowns, from the Stephen Sondheim musical, A Little Night Music. The song requires restraint, humor, and sadness â€“ and is a great exercise for the intellect and articulation.
A great exercise with a song that shifts emotionally would be to sing it through with one emotion only, and then sing it through with the opposite feeling only. And then, add the two together.
Stir Up – Pour Out
Songs that are good workouts spiritually are those that search for the meaning of life, creation, and the power of love for humanity. Songs and hymns related to religion, spiritual beliefs, and personal faith fall into this category. These are songs that affirm you reason for not just being alive, but also spark your desire to share your gifts and learn more about its sources and forces.
Think Outside The Vox
Set aside a day or two per month to explore songs in genres outside of your comfort zone or interests. Regularly listen to songs from musical theatre. These tend to offer challenges with language and interpretive skills.
Start pulling together your catalogue of songs with notes on the areas where they provide a potential workout for you and your audience. Use these lists for planning song-sets and workouts. Use them for planning a play list for jogging, meditation, or for a road trip. Use your list for fun and games with fellow singers, performers, singer-songwriters, musicians, friends, family, and others.
Tools + Products
In addition to offering options for a daily workout, your list is one more tool to use as your apply techniques and methods learned from Brett Manningâ€™s products offered here at SSTV. So visit our products page for further enhancement of your unique talent. The wealth of available resources will help you become better equipped to achieve the full potential of your singing success.