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The Case of the Singer Whose Arms Got in the Way

Disembodied hands in the dark

Don was a tall actor and aside from noticing his slight stoop on first meeting him, I also noticed he was blessed with long, dangly arms.

These can be a huge asset or a real ‘disaster’ area, depending on what one does with them!

Don described his hands as ‘feeling like spades’ during singing performance and he usually ended up placing them in his pockets.

Don possessed a booming bass baritone voice and had some soulful edges in there, but watching him sing was like watching a voice divorced from its body, or a singing statue in a museum.

Because he was used to the stage I decided to play with props to help bring his arms to life!

We started with a book and Don sang as if reading – gesticulating quite naturally with the book and turning pages with fervour on the faster sections of the song, also adding some colour and even deeper soul to his delivery.

He then worked with a shirt – dancing with it and then meticulously folding it. All again this seemingly added some lustre to his vocal quality and a deeper dynamic.

Don’s sense of the physical connection to his voice began to emerge instantly and he suggested (not I) that he put down the props and give it a go.

He was a changed man! His arms and entire body became animated and he simply ‘got it!’

Extraneous activity is not regarded as useful for singers – particularly at audition, but sometimes an ‘action’ can bring a song to life and free the performer.