Sing like you hope no one’s listening

Musical improv is very popular. If it is done properly, it’s a magic trick, a song from a suggestion. In the interest of full disclosure, singing is not one of my innate talents. I don’t even sing in the shower, the place everyone thinks they sound good.

In the Chainsaw Boys, my old group, we had two outstanding singers, Miriam and Bethany. They are both gifted singers and could spin musical gold out of suggested straw.

My gifts were more verbal, I was strongest narratively as well as with scene work. And as with any team, and improv is nothing if not a team sport, we usually played to our strengths.

But it’s important to stretch and improve yourself, especially if you don’t want to. I assume that is why, despite possessing minimal gifts in the euterpean arts, I was required to sing in every show.

I can’t honestly say I was forced, no threats were made, nothing held hostage, and no weapons were brandished. But it was not my first choice. Honesty, it terrified me. The notes being played were as shark fins cutting through the water towards me, doom approaching with no mercy.

What did I do you ask? I sang. Not well, and honestly, more akin to talk singing, Rex Harrison style. And after the eternity of a minute or two, it was over, at least for that week. I was as if I was repeatedly being thrown out of an airplane and told to “fly.”

Did it make me a better improviser? No doubt, it was the comedic version of eating my vegetables. Did I enjoy it? Very truthfully, I felt as though I was having a micro stroke on stage. So no, I didn’t find much joy at the time.

But when you eat your vegetables, you get your dessert. Which in this case, was going out to the bar for drinks afterwards. If you were expecting a more thoughtful insight, you’re reading the wrong thing.

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