I remember hearing a young man sing recently. He was covering a Jack Johnson song. He sounded just like him. But since he isn't Jack Johnson, no one was really hearing Jack Johnson. And since he wasn't singing in his own voice, I had to wonder...what exactly was I hearing and who on earth was singing? No one really. It sounded good but had no presence.
Don't get me wrong. Copying is a great way to learn. It isn't that it's bad. I myself learned by copying. But thankfully, I continued my vocal journey into self. We are all born with the gift of our own song. If we fail to exercise this aspect of ourselves, we become copycats and end there. We may sound good, but there is no life in the sound. We draw only from what we know to be safe or acceptable, and we lose our capacity to be present. We deprive the world of our unique timbre.
The practice of vocal toning is a means to exercising our gifts. I will be teaching an online Vocal Meditation for Beginners class staring March 9th at 8PM EST. Vocal toning in its simplest form is simply singing a sustained pitch on a full exhalation of breath with a vowel sound. Working with this technique teaches breath control like no other method I know. Toning in groups has its own rewards. First of all, the harmonics are yummy. But more importantly, it teaches one to listen more fully...to hear what is coming...to know what is needed.
Toning as a form of improvisation is a tool for developing wisdom, not just in singing but in all areas of life. As we learn to trust ourselves and our creative impulses through improvisation, we break out of artistic mediocrity and break through membranes of our potential. As we learn to do this with our music, we begin to transfer this ability to other areas. We become more fluid in all situations, able to create spontaneously amidst our challenges and in cooperation with others. We begin to hear the music of life and assert our harmonies within it.
For access to a free mp3 library about vocal toning, visit MP3Toning Library at The Voice of Lifewebsite