Tribe and Singing

A student came in after the holidays absolutely glowing. It turns out that she had gone to some year-end parties that she usually dreaded, but this year there was singing. Her voice was in a new place where she could really enjoy singing with others and having fun, and she spent hours singing and making new friends. She was still happy a week later, and was very motivated to take her voice to the next level.

I believe that when it comes to connecting with our group of friends (our tribe), there’s nothing better than singing. Here’s my theory about it.

Before there was anything written down, all laws, stories, folklore and history were passed on in an oral tradition that were sung. The Torah, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and all the great classics of ancient culture were long songs that were memorized, and passed on around the campfire to the tribe. It’s much easier to remember words that are associated with melody.

Now that we have written language, computers and social media, there are much easier ways to get the message out. Singing has lost its place as the repository of stories, folklore and history. These days singing has become a profession, where we go to watch a singer and expect a good performance. When we watch American Idol, we feel a thrill when a singer gets rejected from the group. In ancient times, separation from the tribe meant death, and we still have the remnants of that fear of rejection within us when we sing. The songs were the glue that held the tribe together, and sound of the singer was the sign that they belonged in the group.

When I work with a voice student, our goal is to reach “The Balance Point” (a state where everything works in harmony with their singing.) Once this happens, I usually talk to them about tribe. My talk goes something like this.

“You’ve now accomplished a great advancement with your singing and your voice sounds strong, clear and beautiful. Watch now what happens with your relationships. Notice the new people who come into your life. Watch how old relationships are strengthened and renewed. You won’t know the how or why of it, but when the opportunity arises, make yourself available. You may be surprised by what happens.”

An example of this was my student Steve, who had some significant tension blocking him from the Balance Point. We began applying principles of voice release to a song that he planned to sing for his wife’s anniversary. Just before the anniversary, his voice reached the Balance Point, and he experienced what he described as a new structure. It was a complete surprise for him because his voice felt so light and yet so powerful. We both experienced the wonder of the moment and I told him to look for the new connections that were going to come as a result of his advancement with his singing.

Two nights later, after a meal with his wife, they wandered by the piano bar and the pianist asked him if he wanted to sing a song. He said “Yes!”, and he sang the song for his wife. Everyone in the bar realized that there was something very significant and moving taking place, and he sang the song with complete confidence, strength and beauty. It was a defining moment for him and his wife.

I encourage you to pursue your singing and expand your network of friends and tribe. It will greatly enrich your life, guaranteed!

John Scott