Yesterday, in deep frustration at the heartless and idiotic political machinations aimed at depriving millions of Americans of decent healthcare, I tweeted:
Have you felt like screaming uncontrollably lately? Voice lessons can help keep you from hurting yourself and others! Give me a call.— Claudia Friedlander (@VoiceTeacherNYC) March 7, 2017
It was meant as a joke rather than a serious plug for my studio, of course.
Then, when this morning’s headlines again broadcasted the cruelty, greed, and tone-deafness of those who are doing their best to make lives even more difficult for the poor and infirm, I decided I’d better turn to astrologer Rob Brezsny for counsel and read:
Not that one must be an Aries to feel like screaming uncontrollably these days…
I began to contemplate more seriously the profound value singing yields for processing, integrating, and expressing the challenging feelings that arise in response to such stimuli.
Thanks to my singing practice, I am aware that feelings can be released into sound and that emotional discomfort can be alleviated through a deepening of the breath. I know that I am entitled to have my say, and while those who hear me may not like or agree with what I express, the power of my voice will make me difficult to ignore. And my skill at channeling strong opinions and feelings through my voice actually does make the things I express less likely to harm me or others.
Breathing is an important means of regulating your emotions. When painful feelings arise, it can be instinctive to shut down your breathing in order to diminish the unpleasant thoughts, impulses and sensations that accompany them. But in so doing, you also diminish your ability to express these feelings and reach out to others for help, compassion, and solidarity. Singing can teach you to tolerate and breathe through the initial discomfort of such feelings and then give voice to them.
If you’re reticent about expressing your opinion even when the stakes are high, a practice that exhorts you to engage in making loud or even ridiculous sounds can help you build the confidence and vocal coordination to speak up and stand your ground.
And should you find yourself in the grip of a primal scream, unleashing it through a relaxed and well-primed throat will protect you from becoming hoarse and your listeners from feeling assaulted. Screaming is generally only painful and assaultive when the impulse to vent is met with chronic or habitual muscular tension in your throat. The relative calm and coordination developed through singing technique can prepare you to vent in comfort and safety.
For the past several months I have been asking myself whether there is anything at all I can do to counter the very real threats our democracy is now facing and feeling disempowered. I now have some hope that there is a way that my specialized skill set can be of broader practical use.
It is now more important than ever for people to feel as though their individual voices can have an impact. So here is the contribution I would like to make: If you have felt like screaming uncontrollably lately and would like to learn some strategies to make your utterances helpful for yourself and others, I invite you to see me for a free 30-minute session, either in person or online via Skype or FaceTime. It is not necessary that you have any singing training or musical ambition, just that you feel a need for some support in expressing yourself at this crucial moment in our nation’s history. Submit your name and email, and I’ll get in touch to set up an appointment.