What’s important to note is that you are not controlling the wave, merely playing off its energy -says Mark Baxter.
When I’m working in Los Angeles, I often drive to the coast of Malibu in search of inspiration.
One day I noticed a handful of surfers in shiny black wetsuits bobbing up and down in the water like seals. Some people had gathered on a nearby dune to watch the surfers do their thing.
Hmm, there’s a stage, some performers, a seating area and an audience.
I settled back and took in the show. The surfers were good, I guess, but what struck me was how similar the skill of catching a wave on a foam-core board is to performing a song.
Singing is a balancing act, a dance between the forces of nature and artistic desires. The difference is that singers have to make their own waves – and what we ride is emotion.
Some people are good at making waves. The rest of us have to remember that a wave is a wave.
You don’t have to specifically feel angry, happy, lonely or in love to express them in song. Any emotion will do, just feel something. What’s important to note is that you are not controlling the wave, merely playing off its energy. The momentum of an emotion should begin to swell during the verse of a song. Then, shoot the curl throughout the chorus!
If the wave gets out of hand, pull back. If it loses steam, lean forward.
With an adventurous spirit and good technique, you can take a song anywhere.
Without knowing any of the surfers that day, it was still easy to separate the conservative from the risk takers, the reckless from the nut cases. Regardless of their ability, we onlookers admired them all. Watching made me anxious to get back to my studio and dive into a song.
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson
You can read more of Mark’s work here.