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Palace acappella Blog

February 1st was Time to Talk Day - opening up the conversation about
mental wellbeing. 

Community and social connection are of core importance to us at
Palace Acappella - plus singing, especially in a group, has so many
physical and mental health benefits. 

Here's what some of our members say about choirand what it means
to them. 

2nd February 2024

There are certain things I find myself talking about in my singing
teaching ALL THE TIME:
✅ Efficient effort
✅ Exploring and playing
✅ Feeling, rather than listening or thinking
✅ Finding the flow

1️⃣ Efficient Effort:
We currently seem to have a strong culture of putting the effort in,
putting the work in, putting the time in, always being busy and
productive - and needing to be seen to be so.

In singing terms, this mentality can easily lead to excessive effort, muscle
tension, uncomfortable breathing and a pressurised voice
and eventually,
singing can become so much effort (with not great results) that it is no
longer fun. (Also a pretty good analogy for life I think...)

A lot of what I do in lessons is facilitating taking away the excessive effort; relaxing unnecessary tensions; and growing awareness of tensions habits and critical brain chatter - and the way these all interlink.

2️⃣ Exploring and playing:
If we are exploring and playful then we are curious, looking at what is happening and why, and what effect changing elements has. It’s a great counteraction for perfectionism and ‘needing to get things right’ and also gives you great power! The more you understand your voice and body and the way everything interlinks, the more likely you can make beneficial changes while singing, even while performing; so you are never at the mercy of where your voice is on any given day, you can always make positive improvements as you go.

3️⃣ Feeling, rather than listening or thinking:
Feeling rather than thinking - thinking is, for me, a safety net. It allows me to try to fix things logically rather than get swept away by scary big emotions. However, for singing (and probably life too, let’s be honest) this can be unhelpful. Our instrument is our body, so feeling what it does naturally to produce sound and exploring changes from there is usually better than trying to do everything in our brain. It’s also generally more relaxed.

Feeling rather than listening - unfortunately we can’t hear our own voices as other people hear them in the room. Often the sound that is best for the audience is not great for us, so we try to edit the sound and improve it FOR OUR OWN EAR as we go. This can lead to extra tension and manipulation that is
a) detrimental to the sound we make &
b) more effortful and less efficient

4️⃣ Finding the Flow:
Relax, trust your body, don’t edit the sound, work on your breathing, explore, play!

If you are interested in finding out more about how to use your singing voice well, get in touch, book a free choir taster session or have a look at the details for FUNdamental Singing course starting soon 

📸 Palace Acappella and Crib Notes Choirs performing together at Crystal Palace Bowl, Sunday 17th December 2023

Eleanor Rastall, December 2023


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3 tips for voice care in the cold and flu' season.

You know that feeling when you wake up, a bit groggy, it's dark and cold and....


NO!! There's that ominous tickley, sore, rough throat that heralds an impending cold 🤦‍♀️

For me this usually means loss of income, about a week unable to do my jobs while still working very

hard as I postpone and look for cover for my myriad different choirs, pupils, classes and courses. But

more than that. It means loss of self. EVERYTHING I do is about my voice and when I lose it I feel at

my most vulnerable, invisible, sad and angry. I feel lost.

Over the years I have experimented with many different ways to reduce the impact of colds and take

care of my voice. Here are 3 things that work for me:

😄 act on that tickle straight away. Coconut water will sometimes head off a cold completely, if I find

some quick enough. Gargling with warm salt water a few times a day can also be a massive help

😃 keep hydrated. We all know we should do this generally, but your vocal cords are one of the first things to become dehydrated and one of the last bits to rehydrate. So, ESPECIALLY when you are ill (but really always!) it's important to keep hydrated - ideally with consistent water/liquid intake. Steaming yourself is also fantastic - put your head over a bowl of hot (hot hot) water and a towel over your head and the bowl to keep the steam in. Breathe! (Also great for reducing stuffiness!)

😃 Avoid talking as much as you can and let your voice rest. For those with heavily vocal jobs for whom this is not possible, as much self-care as possible and be aware of your breath and how you speak and go for flow and efficient effort, not pushing or forcing volume. Rest when you can and make the most of patches of possible silence.

Wishing you a healthy winter!

Eleanor Rastall, 6th November 2023

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