DO A LITTLE WELL AND YOU ARE DOING MUCH

You’ve found a singing teacher whose guidance you trust, you love your singing lessons – how’s the practice going? ls it difficult to find time to practice due to the demands of family and work? Do you have a room, a space where you feel comfortable singing? Or do you worry your neighbours or family will hear you? Knowing you can be heard is inhibiting.

Lack of time – you leave home for work at 7.30am and if you’re lucky, return at 7.00pm. And what with this and then that demanding your attention you’re beginning to wonder why you began taking lessons when your boss, your loved ones all demand chunks of you. The word ‘practice’ triggers panic – when, where, how? All you have to do devours all you want to do.

Yup, it does, if you allow it to. lf the niggle to sing, write, paint or dance has become an uncomfortable itch, stop scratching, attend to it. It won’t go away. We are not machines at the behest of others; we are creative beings needing to express ourselves through our chosen medium.

Whether you sing for your supper, for yourself or to join others, it’s the doing that enlivens the soul. To deepen that experience, to understand it more fully and grow through it, spend time with your voice. Practice, that’s what that sometime scary word means.

“My purpose is to entertain myself first and others secondly.”
John M. McDonald.

You live in a house divided into flats. The only time you can practice is either before or after you get home from work and yes, the neighbours may hear you. Speak to them, most people are amenable. Some may even be harbouring a desire to sing or play an instrument thernselves, hearing you may inspire that person to follow his/her dream. If you’re surrounded by grumps, move. If you can’t move, leave for work earlier so you can have some alone time before anyone else arrives. Or arrange to stay 15 minutes later after everyone has gone home, you’ll begin or finish the working day enlivened.

A student of mine told me she practices in the well of the internal fire escape. Another student found a space in the basement during his lunch hour. Yet another bartered with a neighbour who had a room with a piano – use of the room in exchange for baby-sitting, walking the dog, ironing or mowing the lawn. Take an early walk in the park, across a field and sing. Writers walk their words, singers walk their songs.

Practicing in the family home can be inhibiting. Our nearest and dearest can feel threatened by your desire to take up a vocation lost over time. Your job is to focus on their endeavours. Gently but firmly remind them that love is enabling and encouraging everyone to develop their skills, to expand horizons. They will soon realise that the you who sings is happier and more fulfilled than the you doesn’t.

Vocalising can feel more exposing than practicing an instrument, the piano or guitar. Practice is not about so-called perfection, it’s about focus in the doing, sinking into the world you create through your singing voice.

You have a duty to your boss, to your loved ones but the greatest duty you have is to yourself. If, within your circumstances, you manage ten minutes here and another ten minutes there, you’re doing fine. Do a little well and you are doing much.

Alas for those you do not sing
But die with all their music in them!
The Voiceless. Oliver Wendell Holmes.