Raise your hand if you have ever experienced this:
Band kids and chorus kids are two totally different kinds of people/instrumentalists and vocalists are from different planets. Maybe a Buzzfeed or Classicfm personality quiz told you what instrument you are, or what voice part you would be. But when you really think about it we are all vocalist just as we are all instrumentalists!
Personally, I did not make the connection of how much the mechanics of flute and voice were related until I really understood artistry and musicality. While I believe my past teachers were right to focus on the technique and foundations of flute playing, I do wish there was more of a push to sing while I studied my primary instrument. They were singing while they played flute, so why wasn’t I able to do that?
The first time I observed a vocal masterclass was about 10 years into my flute playing career. I vividly remember listening to the guest artist point at different parts of the performer’s body, telling them to not only let go of the tension they were holding there, but to resonate throughout the entire body. That’s when it hit me: in order to have the most resonant sound on your instrument, you must first resonate throughout the body. Let me say that again.
In order for your instrument to resonate as best as possible, the resonance must start from the body first.
From your pinky toe to your ear, every part of your body must feel free and ready to make music! The area requiring resonance that still blows my mind are the cheekbones. How could a bone in your face possibly hold tension?? Well, those cheekbones connect to your jaw and which connects to your neck, which connects to your shoulders, and, well, I think you know where this goes (if you started singing Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes to yourself please comment below). The point is, if just one part of your body is holding tension, you are doing yourself and the music a disservice.
So how can we be the best instrumentalists? By singing. By resonating. By exploring every art form, mind body practice, and styles of exercise as much as possible.
I have been playing the flute for 14 years and still learn so much about my instrument every day. The day my instrument became my voice and changed my playing entirely was the day I stopped being afraid to sing.
So whether you are a vocalist, a drummer, a bass player, or a flutist, don’t forget to sing first.