Singing and Brain Chemistry

EphoriaI’ve been teaching voice lessons for 22 years, and I’ve been noticing lately a common thread in many of my lessons: that singers who achieve a certain high state of mind and body awareness can experience powerful personal transformation. I call this transformation “the Release”, and it is accompanied by either laughter, tears, or “chills”. Usually when the Release happens, it’s because the student has a new and powerful revelation about their singing voice, and it triggers an equally powerful revelation about their identity.

The basics of good singing technique are not very difficult to understand; there are about seven key principles that need to be followed. But what is very difficult is doing them simultaneously. The singer generally has a sense of juggling many moving parts, and when they achieve the integration of these moving parts is when they begin laughing. The irony is that once these systems integrate, singing becomes profoundly simple. It’s really fun to see a singer experience revelations about their mind, body and identity as they tune into this integration, and laugh, (or sometimes cry).

I can pretty much count on a new student achieving the Release within the first half hour of working with me. Almost everyone laughs. (See link for a short podcast to hear some examples). It usually starts with the release of the neck, and helping a singer sing while releasing the neck. Most of us tighten our neck when we breath and when we sing, so separating the neck (I call it “decoupling”) from the breath and the active voice takes intense concentration. Then when the student realizes the profound increase in power and tone as the neck decouples, and the huge decrease in pressure as the vocal chords become active, often there is the laughter. “Can it really be this easy?”

Often the physical release of a key muscle group is accompanied by an emotional tag, or some feeling or memory that is significant for the student. “My mother never sang after she got married, so we never sang growing up”. I usually don’t get into the specifics of the emotions with the student, but I encourage them to notice the feelings and connect it to the physical release of tension. I believe singing is unique in it’s ability to tune us into the deeper truths of our minds and bodies. And I know of no other activity which can so quickly transform a person’s mood and feelings as singing. I can almost guarantee any student that they will feel better, happier and more in tune with themselves after half an hour of singing.

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About John Daniel Scott

John has been teaching music and studying the human voice for over fifteen years. In this time, he has developed a practice strategy to help every singer reach his or her balance point – the intersection of strength, skill, and style that brings the most out of every unique voice. A professional voice instructor, singer, pianist, sound engineer and songwriter for twenty years, John Scott’s musical talents possess heavy influences of gospel, pop, rock, and R&B. John has written and recorded hundreds of songs, has a long history of both concert and studio performance, and has worked as a sound engineer, arranger, and producer for countless artists.