My kids and I are shower-singers. Char has nightly opera rehearsals. Sarah Jane has decided that she would initiate the “sing-in-the-shower-movement” at her college. I’ve heard Jody’s beautiful tenor voice rhapsodize some bluegrass or country tunes. It is where I practice all of my high notes. What an incredible venue for heartfelt melodies and, oh yeah, for bathing.
But then there is… the BARN! Now that is my opera-house of choice. I am always grateful that I don’t have close enough neighbors that I have to be inhibited when I am on the barn stage. Fantastic acoustics. The great outdoors. All kinds of props. An appreciative audience. It fully supports your “Climb Every Mountain” needs.
Also, because we live set off from the road, when you are belting or rehearsing particularly tricky bits, there is no fear that the Jones’ family is going to file a complaint. Or at least I hope not because then I am truly living in a bubble… As far as I can tell, it is a private audience only consisting of the sheep, the goats, the horses, the barn kitties, the roosters, chickens, turkeys and peafowl. Oh, and Bean the bunny.
There is a lot that you can learn, too, from the animal friends. They are baa-ing, neigh-ing, meh-ing, meowing, barking, crowing, gobbling, cackling, every-thing from a fantastic support system. I can just imagine the diaphragm strength. If I spend enough time observing them in action, it makes for great incentive as well as a reminder of how to sing properly without straining my voice.
Singing in the barn should only become an aerobic activity because of my chores while out there, not because of my vocalizing. Truly, they do feel as if they go hand-in-hand, though and the songs do help make the duties less burdensome!
When we built that lovely ark, one of the first things that Jim did was to install his old stereo(from the 70’s) in the tack room. (I think the second thing he did was hang up the old castaway thermometer from his family’s vacation home in Lincoln, VT.) We can play c.d.’s, the radio or even MP3’s if we like. Four small speakers are mounted in the aisle and the run-outs and if the horses want to, they can neigh along with us. Jim’s motive, though, was to be able to listen to baseball games while working in the barn, and we do that, too.
“Singing is linked to lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and reduced stress,” says professionals. I say, it’s free and convenient. Two good things that also lower the heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and reduce stress.
Last summer we were so fortunate as to help host a singing workshop for a week with use of the barn and our music room in the house. We put a keyboard out there and it was helpful for finding your notes or for accompanying yourself if you needed to. But I do have my old upright piano that I grew up with, sitting silently in the corner of the music room, that I could imagine finding a home in the tack room. If only we could make sure that mice wouldn’t find their way inside…
Along with our annual Pumpkin Contest gathering, one of these days I hope to host an event, or two, in our barn. I imagine it would be a lovely venue for barn dances or musicals, operas or simple recitals. How heavenly it would be to put our passions of farm life and music together. For now I will continue to pitch hay bales and muck stalls, sweep aisles and draw water to my own personal playlists.
- Communication Basics: Singing (katherinesimms.wordpress.com)
- Songs in Shadows (5wise.wordpress.com)
- About New York: Jay Hunter Morris Lands on Met Stage as Siegfried (nytimes.com)