The most common response I hear from people when I say, ‘I am a singer’ or that I teach singing is:
‘Oh wow, I WISH I could sing! But you wouldn’t want me in your class! I can’t sing…’
I think what they are really saying is:
‘I can’t sing like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston therefore I never allow myself to express myself through singing because of pre-conceived notions of what ‘singing’ supposedly means. I am not good enough.’
I think this stems from many hidden feelings, beliefs and experiences, like these:
‘That teacher/kid/parent/friend at school laughed at me once so I sure as hell ain’t doing that again!’ (As was the case for me for over two decades)
‘I am petrified to express myself. Full stop. Singing?! Pah!’
‘Singing is something you do to ‘perform’ or to ‘impress’ other people. I believe this so much that I won’t even allow myself to sing for and to myself. My belief paralyses me.’
‘I was taught in school that if you learn something is must ‘lead you somewhere’ – if I am not to be ‘the best’ (e.g. Whitney) or to make it into a career, then why would I bother? What’s the point?’
If I could rule the world I would take out the often complex and deep belief in every single human beings brain that tells them that they can’t sing. (And yes, my role as a singing teacher would become obsolete – GREAT!)
To sing does NOT mean you must make it into a profession. To sing does NOT mean you must sing in front of other people. To sing does NOT mean you must ‘do something with it’. To sing does NOT mean you must ‘perform’. To sing is a birth right available to all, accessible to all at any moment.
I love the African proverb: If you can talk you can sing. If you can walk you can dance.
Sing to yourself. Sing to your children. Hum to yourself when you are driving to work. Sing just to quiet out the ego driven thoughts of endless ‘to-do-lists’. Sing for the sake of singing. Sing because you feel something in your heart. Sing to hear what your voice sounds like when you are so excited you might cry. Sing and squeal like a child when something GOOD happens. Sing yourself to sleep. Sing to yourself when you feel sad or scared or worried or anxious. Sing to yourself knowing that the sound of your own voice has the power to sooth you through every single one of life’s emotions and experiences.
Singing to yourself is wonderful. You will not be graded. No one will tell you what they think. No one will judge you. It is not to ‘get anywhere’. Sing for joy. If it’s scary/uncomfortable/weird or lame – WHO CARES?!!! No one is listening! Start off quietly, gently, slowly. Just a few noises to get you going. Or sing along as loud as you want to your favourite song on the radio. But sing to yourself. Allow yourself to hear the sound your soul longs to make. Whatever that may be.
Sure, if you want to make it into a profession or take it further in any way, great! But never ever forget to sing for yourself. For no other reason than it is your desire in that moment.
Our education system and society at large makes us believe that if we do anything it must have a purpose. What we do is to lead us somewhere because we are obsessed with ‘doing’ and ‘succeeding’ and ‘achieving’ and ‘being the best’ and ‘end products’ and ‘goals’. The soul does not care for success, external validation or reason. It just cares and desires to be heard and to be expressed. That is all.
‘A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’ – Maya Angelou