Singing Together Freestyle - Backgound

Many people are rather nervous about the idea of singing ‘freestyle’ or ‘improvising’ with other people, and I’m one of them!

Although I have always loved ‘playing’ with singing and making up my own harmonies, when I’ve felt that I was in a ‘safe’ space and with supportive friends and family, I’ve also found myself to be very uncomfortable in situations where I’ve felt exposed and under pressure. I had several bad experiences, when I felt an expectation to be free and creative without any help or guidance. The atmosphere at these workshops was always ‘relaxed and laid-back’, and the assumption was that, as long as I wasn’t too uptight, I should be able to do it… so when I clammed up it all felt like my fault – I simply wasn’t good enough or laid-back enough.

After a few years of avoiding situations where I might feel pressure to improvise, I worked out that, for me to feel safe and able to ‘play’, I need structure and boundaries. Whilst a: ‘relax and do anything’ approach works really well for some people, I need an approach that offers practical support: ideas, instructions, suggestions, starting points and limitations.

I decided to create a workshop for people like me and I found and developed some exercises to give structure to these sessions. I decided not to concentrate on using well-known songs to improvise with, as familiarity tends to bring an idea of what’s right or wrong. Instead, a typical ‘Singing Together Freestyle’ workshop will include lots of different exercises, some working on short riffs and musical phrases and others being based on just a rhythm, some words, a theme… As we progress through a workshop, the boundaries become less rigid the exercises become freer, but always, with an emphasis on there being no pressure, no competition and no such thing as a wrong note.

The main things you need to know are:

  • you’ll never be required to sing anything on your own
  • you don’t have to have lots of ideas
  • with a whole variety of exercises, there’s plenty to stimulate and inspire you
  • you can join in at your own level and in your own way
  • yet it’s very much a group thing, all about listening and playing together with the sounds you’re creating
  • it can be quite an emotional experience… but there’s no pressure to feel what you don’t feel
  • beware… it’s highly likely that you will have fun!