Don’t be a Hummer, Be an Audiator
We have established the Webb-Mitchell Centre for Choral Studies in Zhuhai, China as a “No-Humming Zone”. Our Chinese character:
Rather than hum, we audiate. Audiation is a cognitive learning process by which the brain receives input , digests it, then defines it. In other words, one internalizes the pitch before one produces the pitch. Retention and production of the pitch must take place in the head before it can be accurately produced via the mouth.
There are other benefits to audiating:
+ Listening to an entire phrase with an engaged brain organizes sequences and patterns so they may be recalled with greater precision.
+ It decreases intonation issues. If you can hear it in your head, you can sing it correctly. As my colleague Dr. William Baker of the Choral Foundation always says: “Choirs that sing in tune, don’t hum the pitch!”
+ Focus is maintained. Humming along to the piano or while others are singing interrupts the audiation and production process of others. It also contributes to a noisy learning atmosphere encouraging others to hum along.
+ Sight-reading and tonal memory aptitude improves. Singing too quickly can bring about confusion with other patterns already stored in the brain. Hearing then thinking about the current intervals and rhythm will bring about more success with the initial attempt.
+ Avoids adding noise to the rehearsal room. Noisy rooms produce the Lombard Effect which has a negative impact on the singers via the instructors compensation for this situation. Any noise levels that are increased during instruction causes the instructor to increase phonetic fundamental frequencies, sound intensity, volume and overuse of articulators. This can cause vocal fatigue and produce other negative results.
Increase your musical aptitude by becoming a disciplined audiator. The more you audiate the more others will audiate. And the more pleasant our world will be.