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Acting a song for beginner singers can seem like a hard task. In fact, acting a song and going deeper into the interpretation of it, is a process that very few singers embark on, regardless of their technical level. Acting a song and truly getting involved with its message takes courage and vulnerability, and that is something that we are not always ready to give. So, if you are a beginner singer, or an experienced one that feels something is missing from your singing, this article hopefully will help a bit.
Acting a song for beginner singers is a hard task because emotions are heavy territory. Most of us were not taught to feel our emotions as children! Rather, we were taught to react to our emotions or to just block them. We are not often encouraged to just feel them.
And that is why we end up with a big bucket of ice cream when our lover leaves us! The inability to just feel our emotions, being present in them, makes us do whatever we can to feel “less” of what we are feeling.
Every emotion has a different effect on our bodies. I have always wondered, where do our rejected, hidden emotions go to? Because they don’t just evaporate. And that is why songs can be so therapeutic if we let them! Because they can be a vehicle for your emotions to be channeled and for you to really feel them and then let them go.
But we are so scared of feeling, that sometimes we don’t even want to know what the songs we sing are about!
Most singing students just want to sing nicely without engaging with the meaning of the song. It takes courage and energy to do it.
That is in my opinion what separated a good singer from a great singer. The ability to communicate emotions.
We could go really deep into acting songs but if we just stick to the absolute basics, singing a song is about communicating emotion. And you can’t trick your audience too much in this! If your emotion is to feel terrified then that is what they are getting. Acting a song requires humbleness and presence; because you can only communicate when you are CLEAR on what you are wanting to communicate.
As a beginner, don’t worry about becoming as expressive as Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. It is important that you explore your own expression in a safe environment. So if you want to start exploring this very important aspect of your singing, do so in a safe space first. In other words, practice at home! Explore!
Grab a song that you like. Try to choose one that you can understand, or which you find has a very clear message or emotion.
For example, “She’s out of my life” by Michael Jackson seems to me like a very obviously sad song (it could be a different meaning to you).
Once you have your song, try actively listening to it. Don’t just play it and sing along to it! Really listen to it, to the lyrics, and to the meaning behind it. There is a lot said between the lines in many great songs. For example, “It’s a perfect day” by Lou Reed. It doesn’t take much to be able to tell that there are a lot of things unsaid there in the air.
Remember that there are three composers for each song: the actual composer, the interpreter, and the listener. You as a listener will be giving the song a meaning that is perhaps very different from the original. Because a song resonates with your particular energy and you will never feel a song exactly the same way that another person will. You are just different people!
So when you do your active listening exercise, allow yourself to just feel the energy of the song. Hear the words, go deeper. Just like when you are listening to a dear friend telling you something important to them: you (hopefully) don’t just listen superficially while checking your phone for social media notifications.
Once you can empathise with the song, put a name to the main emotion behind it. For now, just think of one. Songs are dynamic, many emotions are explored, but we are just starting and we don’t want to get overwhelmed by the process. Choose the main emotion that to you is contained in the song.
Then, take some time to just see how that emotion feels in your body. Perhaps you want to sing a song like “When I was your man” by Bruno Mars, but you have never actually messed up a relationship like that. Can you think of any time in your life in which you felt regret? For anything? Have you ever ruined anything? Perhaps you remember the time you yelled at your friend and they didn’t want to play with you anymore. You don’t have to go through the same story to understand the emotion in your body. Regret is regret and you can get in touch with it if you have ever felt it, and sing the song through it.
Use your imagination. When you think of regret, there are probably images coming to you from a time that you have felt regret, and from that image, the emotion has revealed itself.
So now that you have experienced and created an emotion, sing the song you like and this time take a moment to visualize whatever image helps you create the emotion that you need. Channel your emotion through the lyrics of the song, through the music, the inflections of your voice. Have fun with it!
This is just one of millions of acting techniques, but a good one to start with. Give it time, explore it! Getting good at acting and interpreting a song takes time, practice, and exploration, but it is a skill as important as technique when it comes to singing. In fact, vocal technique is at the service of interpretation!
So go practice your song, have fun with it, and have courage as well! Becoming skilled as a singing actor will help you become more skilled in your emotional life as well 😉
Keen on becoming an awesome singer? We have singing lessons in Auckland for all ages and abilities! We also have singing programs online coming soon!
Jorgelina’s private vocal coaching: (adults and Rockschool intermediate – advanced grades) My approach to vocal coaching is integral and holistic, to really strengthen your voice from its roots! I am also in charge of the group class for adults.
Auckland Contemporary Singing School Singing programs: Singing lessons for little kids in Auckland (4-7 years old), Rockschool Vocal Syllabus (kids 8+ years old, teens and adults) singing training program.
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