Wabi-Sabi & Singing

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese view and aesthetic that defines beauty that embraces imperfections and impermanence. It is an antidote to homogeneity. A beautiful practice within this philosophy is Kintsukuroi, the act of mending broken pottery with gold. The effect shines a light on flawed beauty- in a way the broken object becomes more beautiful.

Wabi-sabi may unintentionally present itself in vocal warmups. Sometimes the little discoveries we make about our own voice come from times when you feel like you are simply mucking around. Singing teachers and students may recognise moments like this when you are attempting to make the ugliest of sounds, such as a witches cackle, low heavy sobs or a deep and unguarded laugh. If singing is an act of being a conduit for emotions and stories, the most believable and beautifully heartfelt doesn’t always equate to technical perfection. Think of the unique and recognisable voices of your favourite singers.

singer Joanna Newsom

Another wabi-sabi consideration is the way that the voice changes over time. The voice can take on different characteristics and abilities as we age. You can read a bit about the common changes here: http://www.entnet.org/content/voice-and-aging

Using elements of wabi-sabi in your singing practice could mean releasing your judgement and embracing your own unique sound. An essential in healthy singing method is to be relaxed. This will ease up muscles and breathing, allowing your voice to flow freely and safely. You may find the parameters of your vocal range and ability actually expand by being relaxed. As Bill Murray said, “the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything”.

Bill Murray knows best
Bill Murray knows best

Middle Earth On A Shoestring

So I just came back from a short break at our lovely neighbours NZ. It would be easy to stay forever. It would also be super easy to spend a not-so-small fortune on all the activities on offer.

From my stay in Queenstown and Auckland, here’s a list of cheap fun experiences to savour the simple things on your travels…

1. The Vistas
In New Zealand, perhaps particularly so in Queenstown, the scenery is spectacular. No filter necessary. Hailing from Australia, I’m not used to epic mountain scenery. The consistent panoramas all over Queenstown are bedazzling and gratis.


2. Taking It In
Along the same line, with the macro views, New Zealand is also filled with many micro-views. Little spaces of still life that you just want to sit and absorb for while. In December and January there are so many flowers blooming everywhere and lots of great parks to relax in.


3. Cairn Spotting
If you decide to go for a walk on some of the many scenic trails you will probably come across these mystical little piles of rocks. This behaviour has existed across the world since prehistoric times, where people use stones as trail markers. Despite their arcane presence, they are probably just markers… but you can try and add a couple of stones, just for good luck.


4. Quirks and Perks
New Zealand is quirky and fun. Whilst in a totally pimped out pub bathroom, I noticed this gem…

"Complimentary touch-ups every Friday night"
“Complimentary touch-ups every Friday night in the girls’ bathroom”

5. Auckland Art Gallery
Good fun on a donation budget. Lots of lovely art and a great cafe with lots of veggie and vegan options. The gallery itself is an architectural treat alone.

Albert Park outside the gallery, Auckland

6. Coffee
As an Australian, I tend to consider myself a bit of a coffee snob. We just have really nice coffee at home. Happily I can say a ‘Kiwi cup o’ joe’ is good. Auckland has a bit of a coffee empire. Try somewhere in the suburb, Britomart, down near the port. You can enjoy a good coffee whilst wistfully gazing in the windows of designer boutiques.


7. Other Beverages
If you’re staying in a hostel in Queenstown there are many drink deals to be had. Staying at Nomads on Church street you receive discounted wines, beers and spirits from $4 at The Find on Shotover street. If you can be bothered lining up for 2+ hours this is the same street of the infamous Fergburger. (You may need those drinks!)

NZ has made a name for wine and also dairy industries. On a budget note, Nippy’s is the flavoured milk I was told to try whilst on a visit to Hobbiton. It’s kind of like Up&Go. I don’t even think it’s Kiwi but Lorde loves it.

Perhaps the best cheap thing exempt from this list is that from Sydney, New Zealand is just a sweet and cheap 3 hour flight away.


Images: My own holiday pictures