I love this Jim Henry line. “Sing with your intelligence – not your talent”
The artistry is in singing with so much intelligence, that it appears to be talent. And the intelligence here is not simply focusing the mind on all the correct technical things (though these are important in order to prevent distracting our audience from the message), it’s also bringing life experience and emotional intelligence into the communication of every line of a song.
As directors, our work is to assist amateur singers to transform their mindset from ‘singing along with the group’ to that of performing artist – singing with all the aliveness they can access.
There are several crucial steps:
1. Notice the technical hitches that get in the way of artistry
2. Drill the corrections out of context during warm up in as many innovative ways as can be dreamed up
3. Reinforce those corrections when singing songs
4. Drill the artistry until it becomes habit. (Directors – this will take you your whole life, but it’s worth it, because it is a magnificent life’s work. There’s no rush. Just give it everything you have – all the time)
5. Draw attention to the artistry when those corrections work well. Directors – this is sometimes a long haul, because not all your singers will have enough experience with really listening to notice the difference – or even enough body awareness to feel the difference. The broader strokes will be noticed immediately by everyone, but the subtler, finer ones take more long term awakening and a more acute and developing sense of present moment awareness.
6. Draw singers’ attention to the fact that fun can only be had in the present moment – and that life can only be rich and exciting in the present moment. So it’s worth the effort of applying the artistry that will make the moment more fun and more exciting.
Once we all awaken to the fact that we live only ‘right now’ we become highly motivated to make that moment stunningly beautiful, alive and intelligent on every level.