English · Tips

5 Reasons Why You Should Make Singing A Habit

Man singing in to microphone
via freerangestock

Singing isn’t just for a cappella enthusiasts and aspiring YouTube musicians. Did you know that belting a few tunes several times a week actually improves your well-being?  Here are five reasons to start harmonizing today:

  1. Starting is a snap

Unlike most introductions into the world of music, singing requires no equipment – no instruments, no instrument cases, no instrument cleaning solution – you get the idea. All you need is yourself. You don’t even need a vocal coach to start singing. Sing in the shower, in the car, at karaoke with your friends. If you need some motivation, joining a choir is a great first step. Go online and check for music groups in your area. Chances are, there will be multiple choirs to choose from. Want some free instruction? YouTube is your one-stop shop for singing tutorials, including tips on how to read music, breathing techniques, songs for beginners, and more.

  1. Singing is a workout

You may not be running, but your body does work hard when you sing. Choirs and vocal coaches often take special care to emphasise proper breathing techniques. Singing is an aerobic activity, which means that it’s good for your lungs and heart. Holding notes helps increase your lung capacity, which means you’ll be less winded in other physical activities. A healthy heart lowers your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Though there isn’t much movement involved, many singers compare the feeling of singing to yoga, only without the sweat and complex contortions. If you want to attempt both simultaneously, Los Angeles has started a vocal yoga trend. Are you up to the challenge?

  1. Sing Well, Feel Better

Singing doesn’t stop at physical benefits. With your heart rate up and your lungs working hard, your body releases stress and produces endorphins, those feel-good hormones that elevate your mood. Singing by yourself is well and good, but if you sing with others your emotional health benefits tenfold. Singing with a group develops a sense of community, of belonging. The group dynamic goes even further, as researchers in Sweden discovered that as people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize. How cool is that? Singing is even used as therapy for people with cancer, dementia, and stroke survivors. Next time you’re feeling down, sing a few happy tunes to feel more upbeat.

  1. Build Confidence, Note by Note

Did you know that singing could help you lessen your fear of public speaking? When you sing, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps alleviate stress and anxiety. Oxytocin also increases feelings of trust, which bolsters confidence in not only yourself but in those around you. Now this isn’t to say that people who sing never get nervous. But the more you perform an activity, the more the activity’s actions become habit. Just as your body responds to your nerves before singing, your body will mimic that response when you’re confronted with public speaking. Soon you’ll find that speaking in front of an audience isn’t as terrifying as you originally thought.

  1. Expand your mind

Not only is your voice the most portable instrument out there, it is also the most versatile. Singing regularly opens your mind to new composers and musicians, new styles of sound, and consequently, to new ideas. Learning activities such as singing help create new neural pathways in your brain. These pathways allow you to process the world at a deeper level. If you find that you truly enjoy singing, perhaps you will try your hand at a career in the music or entertainment industry. You could work for a radio station, or a recording studio. If you also have a talent for languages, perhaps you could work for a subtitling company. Maybe you could even direct your own choir one day. The possibilities are endless.

Article by Amanda Clarke

English · This & That

Confession #1: It’s Not About The Instruments


What? Music is not about the instruments?

Um, riiight. Is this guy smoking something? Not at all!  Let me explain.

Music is created by instruments, sure. No one can deny that fact. An instrument is an instrument because of the role played in creating the song. A strum of a guitar chord, the bashing of the snare drum and the human voice are all musical instruments by definition. Hell, even a ping pong ball can be an instrument (cue Enrique!).

So instruments are required to make music, yes. But music is still not really about the instruments.

Let’s use an analogy: A car is a function of the engine, gears, exhaust, wheels, tires, chassis, fuel tank, etc. Is the car about the engine, gears, exhaust? Some would argue yes, but really the answer is no. The car is not about the engine, gears, exhaust and those other things; it’s about what that car can dowith the engine, gears, exhaust, etc. For a standard car it can take you from A to B. A slightly more high-end car could take you from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds or allow you to venture off-road (e.g. a 4×4).  Hopefully you can see how this all translates to music.

As a musician, I’m a guitarist first and foremost, and being a guitarist I of course have huge appreciation for good guitaring, a great lick, riff or solo. But my excitement is not because he played a B, C#, D over an A chord or whatever. It’s not the technicalities or music theory that excites me, it’s thefeeling that he generates with those notes that makes me giddy!

There are a range of minimalistic artists/bands out there today, and a specific New Zealander comes to mind, the super-talented Lorde.

Now the instruments in her songs aren’t going to wow you. You’re not going to bow down at the incredible, impossible-to-replicate instrumentation. No, you’re going to bow down to the gift of using few, well placed instruments to generate a feel that resonates with people all across the globe.

This feel aspect is at the core of every instrument. The feel of a I chord is considerably different from the feel of a IV or V chord. The feel of a major chord is remarkably different to the feel of a minor or diminished chord. The feel generated from the sound of a mandolin is totally different to the feel created by a grand piano. Often we lose sight of this, and the need to demonstrate technique and skill clouds the importance of generating feel.

I have developed quite a wide taste in music over the last few years. I equally enjoy the above mentioned artist’s music as well as more guitar-driven artists. At the core, it’s always about feel.

One of my absolute favourite bands, Alter Bridge, is technically brilliant. Marc Tremonti has won guitarist of the year more than once over and yet if he didn’t create feel, energy and excitement, there would be nothing to hold my interest. Maybe I’d admire his technical playing ability, but I certainly wouldn’t have pre-ordered their latest album if I didn’t feel something in their music.

My encouragement to you is to think about the feel you’re trying to create the next time you write a song. Think about it again when recording and mixing. The original feeling can quickly get clouded by lead guitar after lead guitar after lead guitar, just because “it sounds cool”. It can get clouded by a bad mix. Get new opinions or take a break and listen again with fresh ears. If something is not adding to the feel, remove it. More is not always more.

Sean David is a self-established music entrepreneur, singer/songwriter and journalist.