Considering the Lilies

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Luke 12:27

This powerful story of the lilies speaks to me on many levels as a singer and teacher of singing. Every flower starts as a seed and buds in its own time. We plant the seeds in fertile soil, and provide them with water, sun, and an environment conducive to their growth. The growth process for plants is long and involved, much like the training of the voice. There are NO shortcuts or ‘quick fixes’ for Mother Nature.

The voice, too, begins as a seed. All humans have by birth this latent seed of ability. The perception that someone is ‘not a singer’ or is ‘tone deaf’ has recently been debunked by science. Most humans CAN sing by nature in some capacity.

By planting a voice in good soil, we provide it with a stable environment in which to grow. The environment in this case is the vocal studio, and the psychological atmosphere the teacher uses in their work. If students feel grounded, safe, and secure, they will develop more readily and easily because they feel a sense of ‘rightness’ with their environment. A student placed in a hostile environment will have a harder time blossoming. This is not to say that growth in inhospitable environments is NOT possible, but factors working against such growth are more numerous. Lotuses grow in mud, and their beauty is a message to us all that despite setbacks, beauty can still find a way to express itself.

Like water and sun for the voice are the selection and use of particular vocal exercises that foster health and balance. Exercises should be used to facilitate strength, growth, and ‘feed the voice’. Ease of the exercise, working with the voice, going easy when needed and moving toward flexible strength as well are important to fully develop the raw vocal materials latent in us all.

Constriction? Bad. Pain? Bad. Tightness? Bad. Pinching? Bad. These won’t help the voice to grow. Much like over-pruning a tree, vocal maneuvers that constrict or suppress the voice will halt its development.

Ultimately, a flower’s bloom is the reward of a congenial and beneficial growth. If a teacher gives a student vocally grateful exercises, they will reap the benefits of greater range, flexibility and (ultimately as a BY-PRODUCT) beauty of tone. But give a voice an exercise that is detrimental or abusive, and the plant will wither and die.  The teacher’s job is to know how much water is TOO much, how much sun is TOO much. Am I focusing too much on ONE aspect of singing? Perhaps this student needs to focus on strength AND flexibility? Knowing which exercise to use at a given time can make a huge difference in the growth of the voice in front of me.

The other element of the scripture verse above that speaks to me is this; lilies don’t toil or spin. Lilies don’t compare their beauty with each other. They don’t become jealous or envious of each other, yet Solomon was never dressed so beautifully. When a singer is open-hearted and fully present in their path and development, they don’t need to compare with others. Their voice is beautiful as it is. Flowers don’t have anxiety problems about their beauty or lack thereof. They just ARE. The singer aware of this doesn’t need to seek confirmation outside him- or herself.

No lily ever grew faster or more beautiful by being yelled at or abused.

The constant unfolding saga of life on ALL LEVELS is one of constant transformation. When we cooperate alongside that growth and work with it, we are not only working WITH nature in all her glory, but we are also cooperating within spiritual law as well.

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