Learning how to listen…

… to ourselves and each other.

Photo credit Ursula Kelly @studiosoftbox

It’s becoming a bit of an art, this listening. We try to do it whilst doing a few other things at the same time (cooking, driving, watching TV, scrolling or even working.) When was the last occasion you took the time to listen properly?

I often (when starting a new song) sound some time simply listening to it. I put on massive headphones, turn off all distractions, close my eyes and lie down. Now this might seem like a luxury (I do feel slightly guilty doing it) but I am working. I am hearing parts songs that I need to understand before I teach it. I hear harmonies, instrumentation, I can hear how I can get my choirs to make it sound – I hear lyrics, percussion and get a feeling for the overall mood of the piece. I don’t think about anything else and I DO NOT SING!!!

How often do we do this? I regularly request my choirs purely listen to something before I teach it. I often invite them to come to the front of the audience and listen to how the choir sounds as a whole – they never get to appreciate this from wherever they are stood! I record rehearsals so they can hear themselves and we make time for this to be important.

But as well as listening to each other, its really important to listen to ourselves. For those not confident with a tune or a certain harmony, I encourage them to put a finger in their own ear (just in one side) which means they can hear themselves much more clearly. From this, they can develop their pitch which in turn helps their confidence and in time will create a more harmonious sound. Give it a go! You can really hear your own voice in this way.

Photo credit Ursula Kelly @studiosoftbox

Confidence with singing is essential for success. Many of my private singing clients come to me simply to have a voice and to be heard. One client actually said “I want to be able to speak up in meetings at work” and chose singing as a way to develop this confidence.

Singing together in the workplace means that everyone is heard equally. Nobody cares if you’re the CEO or if you make the tea – everyone has an important voice and role to play in the group. This helps to break down barriers within workplace hierarchy and to level the playing field.

I challenge you this week to take the time to really listen to something properly – mindfully – without getting distracted by other tasks. Pick your favourite song or even a podcast. Lose yourself in sound and enjoy it.

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