What Is Singing Therapy?
What Your Voice Can Do For Us
The legendary engineer Nicola Tesla said that the future of Medicine lies in studying energy and vibration. Today I would like to take a moment to think about our voice as a source of powerful and healing vibration, readily available to all of us.
One of the first people to use voice, chanting and singing for healing, and particularly for psychotherapy, was the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, who lived about 500 BC. He developed a method which he called a musical medicine. Pythagoras had a collection of tunes and chants that he used for such conditions as depression, anxiety, anguish, anger, intolerance and other “passions of the psyche”.
To put it briefly: he used melodies instead of herbs and pills. And they worked!
Pythagorus went on to develop his Music of the Spheres and should be respectfully regarded as a fine music therapist.
Of course, to reap the benefits of Music we can go to a rock band gig or to a classical singing concert (whatever buttons your coat, whatever floats your boat). And the positive effects of listening to the music you like will be great. But I am taking about vibration of our own voice.
There is no denying that every single one of us can make a sound, hum, vocalise and even sing. As an African proverb says if you can walk you can dance, and if you can talk, you can sing! However, many people are limited in their vocal expression because they are conditioned to think that singing is for those who can sing in tune, who have a nice voice, who know about music, etc. We often perceive singing as a kind of social and commercial enterprise, it is there to achieve grades and diplomas, to gain recognition, peer admiration and, finally, to make money.
Could we change our way of thinking for the moment and forget about singing for “public consumption”? Could we take time to vocalise “for private use only” and sing a song for yourself like a mother sings a song for her child? Could we forget for the moment about striving to be better and accept our voice with all its imperfections? Could we for the moment simply sing the best we can at this particular moment, simply sing? My favourite saying is “Dance like no one is watching! Sing like no one is listening!”
It is this attitude that allows vibrations to work their healing power over us. And It does not matter in the slightest how your voice sounds, what style of music you prefer and how simple it is. In fact, although we will never know how the melodies of Pythagoras sounded, we can be certain that they simple! Probably they were almost primitive. ‘Intimate and simple” – this is the essence of voice therapy.
In his wonderful book Sounds of Healing, Doctor Mitchell Gaynor tells us about most interesting findings of research into the effects of music, and one of them: ten minutes of listening to your favourite music will have the same effects as a pill of Valium.
Research shows very convincingly that vibrations of our voice will slow down the pulse rate, stabilise blood pressure, deepen our breath. Singing can improve our cognitive function, increase creativity and imagination; it can slow down age-related memory loss and even can help us fight addictions! And the list of benefits goes on and on. Above all, it can lead us to a deeper connection with ourselves and our essence, and will bring a broader, calmer and wiser perspective on life. Pythagoras was so right about music and singing, and he knew this ages ago! And not just Pythagorus of course. Every culture and every religion has its own singing tradition and an amazing collection of songs and chants. There is a healing power in own self created sound!
Why do we not use this magic pill on a regular basis? Why don’t we sing/chant/vocalise and use our own source of vibration as a part of our health routine, as we would clean our teeth and use vitamins and minerals from a Solgar Jar of supplements for wellness? Even simply humming produces vibrations with measurable health benefits
One of my students used singing to eliminate her sorrows after her boyfriend left her. Her songs became her therapeutic pills. She would play guitar and sing the same songs over and over again, and was able to overcome her despondency, and to leave her sorrow and sense of inadequacy behind. Her singing helped her to get the negative feelings from inside out and to let go! Her voice kept her healthy and sound.
My husband and I started experimenting with this. Most evenings we spend a bit of time singing a short prayer/mantra. The melody is very simple (five notes all in all), we repeat it several times to make our chanting go for about three – five minutes. We start with a little silence, then we chant, and then again some silence. The first thing that we noticed: we both go to sleep easier and sleep much better!
Find your little mantra, your little song, your favourite vowel – and simply take one minute to sound! See what happens.
Does one have to have them? Absolutely not. However, investing into yourself is the best thing you can do. And singing lessons is definitely investing into You. Several areas of work that will be covered in singing lessons are particularly important.
Firstly, self-understanding and self-awareness. You will learn a lot about your muscles, not just the big groups, but smaller ones, like muscles of jaw and tongue, and you learn how to relax them. You learn to feel your body and to use it properly without any undue tension.
Jaw muscles I would like to mention separately. Being one of the largest body’s memory storages, they can harbour a lot of negatives emotions. Video on Jaw Release: https://youtu.be/oYuKScFZbqc.
If you have a problem of grinding teeth, singing lessons with systematic jaw relaxation can be a solution to your problem. Remember “the Body keeps the score”! – it is through the body work that we can liberate ourselves from the burden of negative emotions.
Secondly, singing will give you a better posture. Of course there are exercises that we should do to better our posture. But the voice itself – when you are singing and aiming for the fuller voice – will push you towards a better posture, gently unfolding your spine. A good singer will have a posture as good as a dancer!
Thirdly, in singing you learn a lot about breathing. Many singing exercises for better breath are close to pranayama yoga exercises. In this respect, a singer can be likened to a yoga practitioner.
The fourth point I would like to make is the fact that though singing we become better communicators. Every a song is a story story to be told, and though singing we learn acting and presentation skills which can be so useful in our work and every day life.
And finally, singing is a form of physical exercise as well as emotional liberation. My very first private student was a Japanese lady who had a heart condition. Ordinary physical exercise was forbidden to her, but singing was recommended. Fortunately, she was also musical. I feel blessed that we had time together, we both enjoyed it very much. Her singing lessons were her gym, and this may be a good option to some others.
All in all, with singing lessons not only will you get the pleasure of music, but you will be a more relaxed, taller, bolder, brighter and more confident you!
Singing is a gateway to a healthier and more interesting version of You.
Your online Music teacher