Have you ever walked through a mall or downtown and "people watched"? Oh my. There are people walking around who, in my mother's words, would be horrified if their faces froze in that expression. I have a friend who always says, "If you are happy, notify your face!" But I say, even if you aren't particularly happy or better yet, having a BAD day, smile anyway. When someone asks you how you are, always, but always reply with, "Great!" You'll be surprised with how much better you do feel after 3 "greats".
Are you going to smile whenever you sing? Yes! But what if you are singing a Requiem? Smile. The most important part of your singing is your engagement with your audience. Yes, it is. If you don't have an audience, then why would you sing? It is very much like the discussion of if a tree falls in the forest can anybody hear? So if there is no one to hear then, philosophically, there is no sound.
Does that mean we always have to sing happy songs. No way. We can sing Palestrina, with a smile as much as we can singing Grandma's Feather Bed. Well maybe a little differently. Let me explain.
1. Smile before you sing. - As the leader, you must - LEAD! So whether you are a section leader, conductor or president of the board, smile when speaking to your singers before you start. Sing through a song you do really well as a warm up. Make your singers feel warm all over. No matter how scary the concert seems, lead with a warm smile and set the pace.
2. Smile while you sing - Smile at each other. Whether you are a leader or a singer, smile at each other. Even with great discipline in your choir, if you make a mistake, remember it is now done and SMILE. It will relax everyone and they will feel better about their performance. If someone beside you blows a note or phrase or something, suck it in and do not send frowns or negative vibes. Smiling there could be construed as making fun but afterwards, you can laugh at the "oops" moments together. Respect among you is so very important. It is a culture you will always work hard to maintain. Smiling helps.
3. Smile with your eyes - No matter what the emotion of the music you are presenting, enjoying the process of singing and performing is paramount. Although you must not smile while singing "oo". "ah" or "ee" sounds, you have eyes that need to smile. If you knit your brow, you are definitely NOT smiling with your eyes. Do some homework in front of the bathroom mirror and see if I am right. If you don't want your face to freeze that way, change the eyes.
If you are the kind of leader who rants and raves to get the sound YOU think is correct, stop and re-evaluate. Music is a treasure that must be honoured. Our choir is working constantly at understanding and being respectful of each other. I don't rant, although in my early teaching days I did. I learned quite quickly than neither the singers nor I gained anything from sending out those negative feelings.
A true from your toes smile, is a must as an accessory. if you must, practise with a mirror. Make sure it isn't a smirk. Laugh much. If you have to, watch funny sketches or movies. YouTube is full. If you ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Spread the cheer. If someone near you doesn't have a smile, give them one of yours. Like measles, smiles are catching.
1,2,3 --- SMILE!!