Magic Choral Trick #210 Your Face is Not as Active as You Think
I was watching my 3 month old Grandson’s face the other day, and it’s extraordinary how many expressions can flit across a baby’s face in a few seconds. It’s as if all the possible human expressions are still on his palette – and haven’t been shut down by life’s experiences.
Then I watched the faces of people at the mall. Anyone older than about 6 years of age seems to have their characteristic facial expression locked in place.
As a child, when I had a sour expression on my face, my Granny used to tell me that if the wind changed, my face would stay that way.
I’m thinking she may have been right.
At some point the wind changed for all of us. Hearts got broken, people put us down or we were disappointed or disillusioned. It became unsafe to stand out, be wildly enthusiastic or to be really expressive. So most of us have settled for faces that display only a very small part of the range of emotion that was our birthright.
This is what choruses are up against when we’re trying to allow the subtly different emotions of each new phrase of a song to show – and to show enough that an audience will see it and believe it.
Just as an experiment, in the privacy of your own home, try videoing yourself singing a song – a song for which you’ve done a detailed emotional plan. Then play it back – with the sound off. Can you still understand the emotional plan? I betting you’ll be surprised by how little your face is actually moving.
However, after you have this first video, you have a base level with which to compare your next recordings.
Now try it again – but this time, ridiculously exaggerating every emotion. Sad – be really, really sad. Happy – be deliriously joyful. Bewildered – be utterly clueless.
If when you watch this version it really is over the top, then you have an idea of the upper limit of your emotional range. So now you have some idea of how that area in between these two performances feels.
I’d be very surprised if this was the case though. Unless you’ve been coached often by a theatrical director, you will probably find that your face is still not moving nearly enough.
I’ll post more later about tricks for getting your face to reactivate.