Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Levitation Hum

Photo by Dae*
To me, it's important in a music workshop to relax the participants. Levitation Hum is a great exercise to get folks relaxed and ready for a bit of singing.

I like to start a workshop by asking everyone to find their own space in the room, then have a little lie down on the ground, eyes closed. I get them to take some deep breaths, relax their muscles, shake it out.

I often lead them through a visualisation exercise - get them to imagine themselves immersed in a completely different environment for a few minutes, basically to empty their minds of all the stuff they've done that day. Then when I've brought them back from that, eyes still closed, deep breaths continuing, ... then comes the fun bit. :)

I have the participants start humming a note to themselves, so quietly that they can't even hear it, they can just feel it in their chest. Then I ask them to gradually get louder until they can hear it... then gradually louder still, and start listening to see when they can hear other people around them.

A little louder still, and I'll ask them to start varying the pitch of the note they're humming, moving it around to match or complement someone near them. At that point, more often than not, the hairs on the back of my neck start standing up because the sound they're making is just unreal. Sometimes a collective of 20 workshoppers will sit in a beautiful single pure note, sometimes a clean harmony, sometimes a shiny discordant set of notes... Pretty much every time, I think to myself that if they were to all start levitating off the ground I wouldn't be surprised.

After a little bit, I'll get them to make different vowel sounds, vary the pitch up, vary it down again, just move the sound around.

Towards the end, I'll ask them to gradually quieten down again, to the point where they can just barely hear themselves, then to where they can just barely feel the sound, then nothing.

After some deep breathing, I'll count to 10 (slowly) and get them to gradually make their way to a standing position... and they're good to go for the class. Hopefully all the stuff they were carrying around in their head has been cleansed, and they're all refreshed and ready to go for the workshop.

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