We've done this once, so surely we can do it again. Yes, I feel a bit numbed to everything going on right now and yes, I have days where I just want to cry, but I still do try my best to be positive. During Lockdown 1.0 I committed to doing my voice exercises everyday, and really get back into the habit of singing for myself and not just for jobs. I actually couldn't believe the impact this had on my mental health. Even on days when I felt very hopeless and not at all like I wanted to sing, I would force myself to go through the motions and guess what? I always felt better. Here are three key singing exercises I found that helped me during the last lockdown, which will hopefully help some of you for Lockdown (The Winter Edition)
I recommend always starting your singing practice with some breathing exercises. Something as simple as just lying on your back and taking some time to take some big deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth works wonders. I would experiment with different exhales. Some on an 'ss' or a 'zz' or 'th', whatever feels nice, and concentrate purely on the sounds you're making along with the rise and fall of your belly. Just taking the time to breathe deeply can help your mindset immensely. I was aiming to warm up my voice with these breathing exercises when I did them, but always got some mindfulness time thrown in for free.
Release the Tension
Another huge aspect of preparing to sing is making sure you're not holding too much tension in the body. I always go through my body like a checklist, starting at the head and working my way all the way down to my feet. Have a go at massaging your face and jaw area to release tension, roll your shoulders slowly forwards and back, stretch out your neck, rotate your hips, bounce your knees, circle your ankles, again anything that feels good. I quite like to squeeze my muscles tight and then release them, so I can feel the difference. With everything going on, it's so easy for tension to creep in to your body and half the time I wouldn't even notice my neck was rock solid until I came to sing. Taking time to check in pre singing means that for at least one part of your day you actively let go of some of that tension, which is so good for you!
When you're picking a song to sing, take away the pressure of performance. There doesn't need to be an end goal, especially not during a national lockdown. Pick songs you love listening to. You could maybe give yourself little prompts like, 'A Song That Makes You Smile', 'A Song That Reminds You of Summer' or 'A Song From The First Album You Bought'. Then just sing it. Don't analyse it, don't think about whether you can belt the final chorus, just ENJOY yourself! If you want to dance along, do it. If you want to close your eyes, do it. There are no rules. If you sing a song through and hate it, pick another one. As a text book overthinker here, I can tell you that putting down the rule book feels amazing from time to time and I found myself singing songs I'd always told myself didn't suit me, but actually they sounded great because there was no pressure.
So there you have it. Three exercises you can try over the next four weeks of lockdown that can really help when we're all feeling a bit low. I love talking about all things singing, so if anyone has any questions please reach out to me on Instagram: @beccahardcastlesings or click here to book a Trial Singing Lesson.
I'm always happy to help!