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Listening involves, at least in part, listening to all things happening inside you: in your heart, your mind, and your body. It's been proven that any anxiety, or any emotion you feel, manifests itself in some physical form in your body. When we listen for our body responses, and connect them to our emotions, we become better able to control those emotions.
One way to listen to these body responses is possible through a relatively new form of therapy called biofeedback, where a device is attached to you to monitor certain of your bodily processes and excretions. Some devices can detect levels of nervousness by measuring amount of sweat on your skin. Other devices measure other emotions, albeit indirectly. People have found that they can consciously affect not only their states of mind, but also precise parts of their anatomy, by listening to devices, and focusing their thoughts accordingly. This contradicts conviction formerly held by many scientists, that such a high degree of control over body and mind was not possible. Yoga is an alternative to biofeedback devices that achieves same basic result: a much better ability to hear what's happening inside your body, so that you can change it. Such body awareness is vital to a performer's success in captivating an audience.
Is there any musician more acutely aware of role of body in shaping of his performance than a singer? Is there a professional singer anywhere who does not have some wrinkle in his singing connected to a part of his body? Our bodies are our instruments. When we learn to listen properly to our bodies and how our emotions directly impact our bodies, we become masters of our instrument.
Listen, sometimes, to thoughts of others with whom you normally wouldn't associate. If you've labeled yourself as a "liberal," listen to some Rush Limbaugh. Find a grain of truth or goodness in what he says. If you're a fan of George Bush, read thoughts of Al Gore. Why should we do this? To experience different points of view. When you perform in a role as part of a play, and even when you sing a song, you take on a persona that's not you. You adopt personality of another. You gain skill in doing this when you read thoughts of those with whom you would normally disagree. I guarantee that doing this will enhance your playing from broadened view of life it creates in you.
Give it to God. When you receive applause for your performances, you know how such a response can go to your head. Our egos are stroked by such responses. There's a little voice inside saying, "It's all for me, it's all through me, it's all because of me!" You've become center of universe, as far as your ego is concerned. You then come to believe that this is way it should always feel.
Learn to channel these instances of positive feedback back to audience, and to a higher power. Learn to associate yourself with that higher power and audience. You are focal point for praise, yet you are not repository or destination of praise. You are lens that captures applause and praise, and directs them with gratitude and love to God, to audience, and whatever sources you give credit for building your skill and dedication to singing and to performing.
Don't block feelings; let them flow through you. When you hold onto negative or positive feelings without expressing them, you become greedy with your feelings. You become an emotional miser. Such a creature is unfit for performing, and unfit for transmitting and interpreting works by great composers for any kind of audience.
If you are such a miser, all hope is not lost. Condition your mind to see yourself as a kind of way station for thoughts, ideas and emotions. As stated before, you are not destination, you are messenger.
This doesn't apply just to performing, but to living. As you experience any emotion in your non-performing life, do so with relish, letting feeling wash through you. Taste its sweetness. This doesn't mean you give in to destructive feelings such as hate or jealousy. You can experience these emotions, and yet still maintain an objective part of you that corrals feeling in one door of your mind, and out another, so to speak.
Talk of expressing and conveying emotions to an audience often brings up topic of crying. The following questions arise: Is it proper for a performer to cry onstage before an audience? Does this help or hinder performance? Most important, does crying engage an audience? To this, a famous actress once offered, "If you cry, audience won't." This may be true. Remember, there is a subtle distinction between being a "carrier" or a “transmitter” of emotions, and being a collecting point or receptacle for emotions. Let feelings flow through you and to audience, without letting them become trapped within.
In film Remains of Day, Anthony Hopkins, no slouch at conveying full range of human emotion, communicates feelings that leave you emotionally ripped apart at end of film. Yet, his character doesn't cry once in film. For much of film his character is stoic, quiet, laconic, and subservient. Hopkins' mastery of being a conduit or conductor for emotion, rather than a recipient or host, makes character and film successful.
Conclusion. Many materials exist to help you learn specific techniques to lure an audience's interest. But without a deep awareness of full range of your humanity, you can't sustain that interest. The greatest performers are those most human. And you needn't look just to other performers to model great people. Seek beyond disciplines of singing and performing to adopt compassion and empathy of others: Carnegies and Rockefellers, Schweitzers and Mother Teresa's. May you find fulfillment in giving each of your performances. --------------------------------------- This Feature Article submitted by: Repertoire Online http://repertoireonline.com/ Classical Vocal Music, digital music files and printable sheet music available for immediate download. Career support for singers, vocal teachers and vocal students.
Operatic baritone Miguel Andoor has enchanted audiences around the world for more than four decades. He has also performed in most of the major professional opera companies on the East Coast, including the Metropolitan Opera. He has received rave notices on his brilliant voice and unusually authentic acting ability. More information about Miguel is available at his web site, www.ClassicalSingers.org.