Do you have a fear of singing? Me too.
Do you have a fear of singing? Me too.
I used to be afraid ... very afraid. But not anymore. I think it was as simple as dropping the story, getting rid of my excuse for holding back. It was as simple as showing up in full, accepting my divine place in the choir of life.
I developed a fear of singing at a very young age. I was one of those children that everyone told to quit singing. And so I did. Over time I came to sincerely believe that I could not sing. I let this belief build and build and eventually it had built very strong walls all around me. I even lip synced “Happy Birthday” in a crowd, for fear that someone would hear me.
I was seriously terrified of singing. I know – ridiculous, in so many ways. It’s not like someone could have forced me to sing – because no sound would have escaped my lips. It just wouldn’t have come out, no matter what.
Then in recent months, a change sort of just came over me. I can sum up ‘the change’ by saying that I lost my interest in only doing things that I thought I was good at. I think because of my age (early sixties), I became more interested in experiencing things that I had avoided doing this lifetime because I wasn’t good at them. I started doing uncharacteristic things ... like, I took an art class!
And then I had an opportunity to join a choir. I always wanted to be in a choir: I just didn’t want to have to sing. I could feel that people who sang in choirs were enjoying the experience of brotherhood, of singing the same song with their brothers and sisters.
I wanted that experience. And so I went along, and sure enough – it was wonderful. I actually sang, sort of. I didn’t open my mouth very wide and I didn’t sing very loud but there was a tiny little noise coming out. The point for me was that I was no longer lip syncing.
Then one night, in a dream, I was singing. In the dream, I sounded basically bad but my friend and I were just laughing about it. A few days later, I called my mother for her birthday and instead of just wishing her a happy birthday, I sang happy birthday to her. It was the first time I had ever sung happy birthday to anyone – solo. That was a big marker that things were changing.
I had the idea to book a private session with a music teacher. I didn’t have any high-flying ideas that I would actually sing, but I trusted that I could dare to make an attempt and that I wouldn’t be laughed at or chided. So the day of my appointment arrived and, as much to the teacher’s surprise as my own, I actually turned up for the session!
We started out just making a sound. Easy. It was mainly about feeling how it (making a sound) felt in my body. I deepened into the experience of being in my body. We went through some brief exercises:
- of letting go of facial muscles
- making a couple more sounds
- checking how it felt in the body.
And unbelievably, when he turned to the keyboard and started playing a few notes, I could sing along with him – even in tune! True story.
I wasn’t tone deaf after all. He played some pre-recorded music and I could also sing with him with this. And then he spun out the double bass and we had a go at those big hearty sounds. I was unsure about being out of tune, but was willing to have a go ... and a laugh.
It didn’t matter that I couldn't hit all the notes with the double bass and I realised that it wasn’t really so much about being in tune as it was about being free enough within my body to express what I am feeling.
This is what my voice sounds like. There is nothing wrong with the sound of my voice and I am free to sing – because it feels good. What a breakthrough!
Now admittedly, I was having the session with Chris James, and as anyone who knows him or has attended a Big Sing knows, this guy is a bit of magic. He literally gets thousands of people to sing, in harmony, in mere minutes.
So I asked him if he was somehow mysteriously making me able to sing!
He replied that it was me, in my body, making that sound, he had no control over that. I started to take ownership of the fact that I could sing. If this was so, WHY would I have told myself – for a whole lifetime (or lifetimes?) – that I could not sing? WHY had I built this prison for myself? It certainly had been a successful way to stifle my expression. I had a little cry. Then we returned to call and response exercises.
Interestingly for me,
- I am not shy about speaking up or speaking in public
- I’m not afraid to ask questions.
So why was I so afraid to sing?
I don’t really know the answer to that and maybe never will, but something changed for me in that short session. My intention now is to be mindful of being in my body, and then whatever I express comes as a whole package, not words or sounds from my mind. Sound vibrates in and from the whole body. So if I am conscious in my body and connected to my heart, when I open my mouth my own divine, harmonious sound just tumbles on out.
I finally got a glimpse into the magic of Chris James's ability to get everyone to sing. He isn’t teaching music as much as he is guiding and giving us permission to go on an inner journey, feeling the vibration of sound as it resonates throughout the whole body.
What I discovered on my inner journey is that I had built a prison for myself with a false belief that I could not sing. I was the prisoner. But most importantly, I held the key to set myself free.