World Choir Games Flanders 2021

What do singing and sex have in common? – more than you think!

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    Sex is (mostly) a private activity. If somebody were to observe you, you would (probably) find it embarrassing.

     

     

    Singing with others is an acceptable public activity, but it too can be embarrassing. Often in surprising ways.

    sex and singing

    When preparing to sing, singers are often asked to do things like make primitive sounds, wiggle their hips, make panting breaths, release on a sigh, and so on. A bit like sex in fact. All of which can feel embarrassing.

    When you get onto the singing itself it can feel like you’re revealing an intimate part of yourself. The release and abandon needed can leave you feeling vulnerable.

    Not to mention various bodily functions that may come into play whilst singing.

    The list of potential embarrassments goes on!

    Here are some of the things that sex and singing have in common.

    At the end I’ll look into why they’re embarrassing and what you can do about it.

    • primitive sounds – during sex people often make spontaneous deep, guttural sounds, long ecstatic sighs, high pitched screams of delight. These are many of the same sounds that singing warm ups use. When they occur during sex they happen easily and naturally from a rooted place. Our aim as singers is to make sounds in our warm up that are just as free, easy and natural.
       
    • hip wiggling and thrustingAlexander Massey wrote a guest post explaining why “knee bending, funny walks, and various hip wiggling and belly dancing movements can help ‘ground’ our voices, and create stronger breath support and a more centred tone.” Many British people find wiggling their hips directly related to sex so are reluctant to get into it fully in public. Compare this with Latin culture’s dances such as salsa, tango and samba. Once you’ve got over your embarrassment, as Alexander says, it’s a valuable part of preparing to sing.
       
    • bodily functions – sex can be a messy business. But then so can singing. I find that if I eat too near a rehearsal, I end up dribbling whilst singing. Or you might fart unexpectedly whilst doing breathing exercises, yawn loudly, make surprising squeaky noises, and so on. We can’t control everything and have to understand that all these things are completely natural. Everyone in your choir will do them at some point.
       
    • revealing the real you – sex is an intimate activity. It’s hard to have satisfying sex without being yourself. It can be a revealing act as it exposes the real you. Singing is also like that. Unlike other makers of music, we are our instrument. If something goes wrong we only have ourselves (and not our violin) to blame. To express a song fully, we need to be honest and will end up revealing part of our real selves. That can be embarrassing if we think of all those people looking deep inside us at that point.
       
    • letting go and being vulnerable – at some point during satisfying sex you need to let go or you won’t get much out of it. Same with singing. You need to release any tensions, stop holding onto ‘stuff’ and allow the sound out. But letting go can feel very frightening at first as it makes us very vulnerable.
       
    • real connection – when having sex with another person there needs to be a real connection. That is most often through eye contact. Singing needs the same strength of connection. In a small ensemble you will make eye contact with your fellow singers. In a choir you need to make eye contact with your audience. But the contact needs to be genuine. You need to really look at others and allow them to see you. Scary!


    It turns out that sex and singing have a lot in common!

    That might be why some singers find it hard to let go in rehearsal and performance because it feels a lot like those private, intimate moments that shouldn’t be shared in public.

    What can you do to get over those feelings?

    be in the moment

    Why might singing (and sex) be embarrassing?

    For most people it’s because they are worrying whether they’re doing it right. Or maybe someone is observing and they’ll look silly or be judged. Performance anxiety!

    It’s the same whether it’s sex or singing. If you are outside yourself even a little bit, then the whole endeavour will be unsatisfying and you won’t get the best out of it.

    The solution is to always be in the moment.

    The moment you are outside yourself observing is the moment you will lose concentration, become self-aware (and possibly embarrassed), and stop being fully involved in the activity at hand.

    So next time you’re singing (or having sex), focus exclusively on the task at hand and you will get much more out of it.

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

    website: chrisrowbury.com
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