Are you smart with your Emotions? When you feel joy or sadness or other emotions, do you have an urge to sing? Perhaps you want to dance and move to music?
Emotional intelligence is a topic I am particularly interested in. When I first studied Psychology around 20 years ago, it was a fresh topic and only starting to gain popularity amongst researchers and academics. At this time it felt like an area I really wanted to explore, but luckily for me, life took a different turn and I got to explore my emotions and music in another way. As a singer!
When I first began lessons with my first singing teacher John Lander, he suggested to me that often students of singing might really start to feel new emotions and have at times the urge to cry. I have never forgotten this advice as singing really can bring forth strong feelings, can enhance emotions and in some circumstances, allow the emotions to find new expression and pass.
I am really grateful I have had the opportunity in my life to discover singing and to be a professional singer. As a professional, our job in Opera is to play characters, bringing them to life in a way that has full emotional expression as well as good singing and acting. But how can you do this when you have never been a soldier or a lover, a king or a priest?
A drama teacher I had both at University and during my years in the Young Artist program with Opera Australia used to say to, go out and experience as much as you can. See the world, take in new environments and observe other people, cultures, places and have genuine experiences. She said, how can you sing Schumann, when you haven't experienced a European Winter then it's coming Springtime. The way the earth comes back to life after snow and colder temperatures is truly magical. Living through three winters in Europe now, has allowed me not only to see what changes in my physical environment, but also to feel the emotional changes that come with that. Many in winter feel real melancholy. Now as a Trainer, when I work with people they often feel less energetic. They are in a working hibernation. The change in their mood and attitude is palpable come Spring and then Summer.
Putting it all together, singing has always enabled me to not only express my emotions but also to feel them more. The passion when you are in a moment on stage can feel real. While work, it is a tremendous gift to feel real genuine feelings when you work with others you share the stage with. Audiences can also tell when a performance is lacklustre and perhaps this is due to the emotional connection a person feels with their character. Even if you haven't experienced that particular situation before, the reason actors and singers rehearse is to find other appropriate expressions, ideas and feelings which match the ones the characters should portray. They search deep within themselves to find the most appropriate expression.
So, why can't those not in the theatre, also start to sing their feelings? What is stopping you when you feel joy to find a joyous song and sing along? Your performance is for you! It WILL make YOU feel better and uplift your spirits. Music has a tremendous power to do this, but rather than be an impartial listener, receiving the music, why not co-create it with the radio? Sing along, drum the beat on the bench, tap your foot and feel the music flow.
From my learnings from 6 Seconds, the international organisation promoting and researching Emotional Intelligence, I have understood that all emotions are chemicals. Data with which to interpret your world. Emotions are there to tell us when to fly, when to fight, to experience the joy of seeing our children being born, to make us feel sad when our hearts are broken and to give us information about what things we have passion for! I think as an extension, we should learn to sing and feel this data even more. To enhance and extend the feeling. To express ourselves in a new way.
Whether you join a choir, sing a solo at church or just make sure the next time you sing 'Happy Birthday' is the most joyous and happy moment for the person you are celebrating, use singing and music to extend and express your emotions. BE BOLD in your feelings and allow them to shine. The gift of these emotions will enrich your life.
For more information on Emotional Intelligence contact 6 Seconds (www.6seconds.org) and for a singing lesson to explore your voice and your emotions, to feel uplifted and fulfilled, give me a call or send me an email! You won't regret it.
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.