tension (part 1)
from evy's notebook
The art of singing is the art of creating music with your own body. The air flows in and out of your lungs and through your vocal folds, vibrating at just the right speed to create just the right note. The sounds move through the spaces behind your face, and are shaped into vowels and coloured in timbre
. Much of learning to sing is learning the muscle memory of how to position your body and throat and face just right, so that when you want to create a certain sound, you can align your body to produce it.
* * *
Improvised partner dancing has minimal conversational cues. You rarely tell your partner "I'm going to twirl you now", but rather position your body in a certain way such that their body naturally moves in a twirl. Your body touches theirs (most commonly where your hand meets theirs) and any movement of your body can be communicated through that point of connection to influence the movement of their body. Much of learning a partner dance is learning the muscle memory of how to position your torso and arms just right, so that when you want improvise a certain dance move, you can align your body to communicate it clearly to your partner.
* * *
I sit in a starkly lit practice room in my school's music building, staring at the sheet music for the piece I'm learning to sing for my voice class. The music is difficult and I'm tired, but there are expectations
for me to dedicate myself to daily practice. It feels difficult to produce the sound I want. Oh, my posture needs improvement. My throat feels tight. Oh, I need a deeper breath to support my sound. There's still tension in my throat, and my chest, and my body. I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that my frustration brings tension. How do I get the music to flow through me when my body feels so tight? I'm afraid to learn this piece of music with the muscle memory of a tense body, so I give up and go for a walk.
* * *
My teacher comes up to me during dance class. "Stop clenching your shoulders," he says as he shakes my arms loose. "How will your partner feel what your body is doing if its movements can't travel through your arm to their hand?" I try to release the tension. My partner says they still can't feel the position of my torso through what they feel in my hand. This is fucking hard. I'm frustrated. I'm focused. I'm acutely aware that these feelings are only producing more tension, but this is what we're working on in class today, so I don't know how to think about anything else.
* * *
I sit at my desk to write. I feel a tightness in my chest. My mind feels constricted. My body is cold and tense. It's hard to get the words just right. I write anyways.