Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time - John Lubbock I love August in London - there's a softer, slower hum to city days. For those of who sing or lead choirs, there is time to rest our voices and/or refresh our vocal inspiration with a workshop, summer school or singing holiday. I'm personally very glad of the time to dream up new choir repertoire for Autumn, work on creative projects, learn new things, have fun with friends and family or just take a nap! So here's a few reflections on the benefits of taking Vocal R&R.
Vocal Rest Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes ... including you - Anne Lamott Our voices can become tired, fatigued or overused with the giveaway symptoms of a dry, husky tone and texture. Tips for rejuvenating a tired voice are Hydration - drinking plenty of water (warm or room temperature) and avoiding too many drying drinks such as fizzy drinks, alcohol, caffeine. Steaming - a relaxing vocal treat which helps open and clear passageways in our mouth, throat and nose - head under a towel over a bowl of boiling water with your favourite essential oils. Better still, take a trip to the steam room. Yawning & sighing - both relax the throat and boost our oxygen intake. Vocal Use - temporarily avoid vocally strenuous activities such as talking in a noisy bar, chatting for hours on the phone, teaching or presenting. Retreat - quiet days or silent retreats give us time to disconnect from the cacophony of voices in the social circus and tune back into our inner voice. Sleep - its vital to unplug and reboot with a good sleep/ snooze/ nap.
Resting is Courageous If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit - Banksy We are constantly changing beings who need to catch up with ourselves and feel into where we are growing and going next. Our voices are a crucial instrument of expressing who we are in any given moment. Sometimes we need to be courageous and say no to external demands in order to give ourselves time to rest. This is not the same as giving up - it is a necessary act of giving to ourselves which then enables us to give to others.
Rest is Generous Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop - Ovid The capitalist mechanisation of humans - insisting that we continually produce and profit in order to prove ourselves - is a fatally flawed premise which results in false bounty. Both people and planet pay a high price for for over-working, over-doing and over-consuming. The truth is that rest always brings a natural, sustainable return on investment. I find that I am always much more productive after a rest - be that time off or just a nap. Resting enables us to tune up and tune into the melodies that arise on the breezes of inspiration.
Do join me in (hopefully) Sunny South London for an afternoon holiday at a Summer Sing on 17th August - more info here.
Also look forward to seeing many choir friends at the Sing for Water London Pop Up rehearsals working towards our big mass choral sing for WaterAid at the Scoop on 15th September.