It’s been a few weeks since my last post and though the human in me knows that writing a blog post on command while life outside our little blogging world can be crazy, the perfectionist in me knows that “weekly-ish ramblings” should probably be, well, weekly.

So, I thought that I would spend this post talking about something that is truly close to my heart: singing in the car.

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It’s the best, it really is. But I’ve discovered in recent months that singing musicals in the car is very different from singing other kinds of music. There’s also the additional element of who’s singing with you, how many songs you can fit on your tiny borrowed ipod, and where you will be driving. I give you, in short, the top 5 things you should consider when singing musicals in your car.

1. The Destination.

The first thing to consider when choosing a musical is your destination. Where are you going? How far away is it? Will you be driving on the highway or on roads where the median speed is 40mph?

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The destination is key. For example, if you’re like me and you like visiting larger cities outside your own, you spend a good amount of time visiting places like the Kansas City’s and St. Louis’s of the world. For me, that’s about a three hour drive. If you play your cards right, you could easily listen to three albums by the time you arrive.

However, that doesn’t mean that musicals should only be limited to long car rides. My drive to work in the morning is less than 15 minutes long, so by the time I pick out a musical selection, I might have three or four songs worth of driving time. That means that those songs are most likely chosen from different musicals.

It also means that you might have to think about how many stops you’re going to make, if there will be stop lights, and also, if you even care.

In considering the destination, you may also need to consider #2: the mood.

2. The mood.

We’re human beings, which means, HELLO, we have emotions. How are you feeling on this drive? Are you happy to be alive? Joyous, even? Are you frustrated? Tired? Just kind of eh?

Picking a song or musical that goes along with your mood is one option. You can embrace the feelings that you’re already having, further contemplate your life, all that jazz. OR, you can go against the grain and try to stir your emotions in the opposite direction. Usually when I’m singing in the mornings, I’m not exactly awake. Listening to songs about complacency or tunes with lovely, light music isn’t really going to help out all that much.

If you’re like me and most of your driving is to work, listening to some music can really get your day off on the wrong foot. Let’s just say the days where I listen to “Life After Life” from the Dracula musical don’t start off as sunny as perhaps Wicked‘s “Popular” or “Defying Gravity.”

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Basically, you listen to what you feel you need to listen to. And sometimes, you aren’t alone.

3. Duets

Singing with a partner in crime is very different than singing alone. You’ve got the added element of another voice. How well do you know this person?? Because singing at the top of your lungs with someone that you only halfway know is just…embarrassing.

So the first thing you probably need to do is let go. Take some advice from our lovely, Frozen friend and try not to worry so much about who’s with you. From there, things get a little easier.

Are you going to duet? This means the opportunity for you both to shine, but it also means that you can’t sing every single line like you’d normally do on your own. I mean, “One Day More” from Les Mis just isn’t the same if you’re not singing every part, do you know what I mean?

Then again, and this is important: how technical do you want to be when performing? If you’re me, you couldn’t care less whether a song is a duet or a solo. My friends and I tend to sing every part, regardless. I’m Glinda AND Elphaba. Robert and Francesca. Kim and Chris. Roger and Mimi. And I’m literally every single character in Les Miserables. 

But that doesn’t work for some people. If you want to be Glinda and your bestie wants to be the powerful green lady, so be it.

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4. Speed.

I think that one underestimated factor when singing show tunes in one’s car is speed. How fast are you going?? If you decide to start singing “Defying Gravity” in your car and you’re going 40mph, that song is not going to be nearly as epic as when you drive down the highway pushing 70, one hand on the wheel, the other in the air, and your mind on the notes you have to hit and not whether the police are trailing you.

That, my friends, is true freedom.

Other songs don’t matter as much. When I sing “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast, I could be anywhere. Same with most things from Les Miserables or A Tale of Two Cities or Miss Saigon. But then again–and I’ll try to make sure this is the last time–it all really just depends on your destination, your mood, and who you’re with.

I think I can easily say that the faster you are going and the less attention you have to pay to stop signs and lights–the more epic your performance is going to be.

5. Your music

The last thing I want to discuss is where you keep your music, how much music you have, and what you do when you’re a little lazy and have borrowed your ipod from your younger brother three years ago and never gave it back.

This is my predicament, though perhaps not yours.

The ipod I use to keep my music is small. It actually only holds about a third to a half of the music on my iTunes, depending on how much I’ve downloaded recently. This means that each time I download music, I have to figure out what I have to leave off and what I want to save.

There is nothing worse than being in your car with your music and realize that a particular song you are looking for is suspiciously absent.

Then there’s the CD thing to consider. Do you want to bring a bunch of CD’s in your car with you to switch out manually? This can work if you know you’re going to listen to every song, but if you want to skip around, it can get tricky if you don’t know the track list by heart yet. (Don’t worry, you’ll get there).

But this also means that, regardless, you’re going to need some sort of organization system that works for you. My musicals are organized based on titles on a huge musical playlist because I like to be able to find them easily, especially because I have other music on my ipod.

However, you might organize your music based on genre, composer, year…whatever.

Anywho, that’s my top five. What are yours? Are there any I missed?

Until next time…

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Singing Musicals in the Car: A Top 5 List

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