Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

I love Music and singing. For me they are as essential and as natural as breathing.

As with breathing, the quality of my music, and the quality of my relationship with Music, has been subject to constant change and evolution.

As a child I would often sing and hum quietly to myself simply as a form of gentle expression when I was feeling content. This was a perfectly natural and uninhibited thing for me to accompany any playful activity in which I was engaged.

I merely sang with my own, unaffected, innate voice. It was simply a part of who I was and I never questioned it.

Later I learned that singing was also to be used to praise God in church, as well as to perform for others and receive their adulation and accolades or, if the performance did not meet their expectations, to receive their censure.

With this new reason for singing there also arose the issues of how to mould my voice to fit in with a choral group, a musical genre and the intended audience. My ‘church’ voice had different qualities to my ‘I want to be a singer when I grow up’ voice. My body moved differently in each context, my clothing was different and my persona varied. I was a trainee angel of compliance in church, an aspiring pop star with my friends, and when trialling for various choral groups, I would do whatever was required to pass the audition.

This pattern became the fixed singing template for my life as a vocalist and I have had several decades singing many musical genres in a variety of configurations, from soloist to choral group, harmony ensembles, a rock band and a classical quartet.

What each had in common, however, was the need to receive an accolade from my listeners that my singing voice sounded lovely, beautiful, pleasing and that my voice fitted in with what that genre or group expected.

This was a far cry from the little girl who sang because singing was simply part of her. So, I stopped performing and waited to see what would unfold. Three or so years ago I felt inspired to start singing again after hearing Michael Benhayon’s Glorious Music albums.

This time, however, I was singing just for me, only when I felt to sing, and whatever glorious song I felt to sing.

What occurred during this time was truly delight-full. People responded to me with great wonder when they chanced to hear me singing gently to, and for, myself in many everyday situations.

  • Singing while shopping at my local supermarket, a lady approached me saying: “Thank you for your singing. Why does no one ever just sing anymore?” I could hear in her voice that she was puzzled by this and had missed hearing people just singing as they go about their day.
  • While singing in the bulkfood section of my local healthfood shop, I saw a lady wandering around, staring up at the ceiling. She saw me and explained that she was trying to locate the source of the heavenly sound and had then realised it was me. She took me to the storeowner and asked them to record my voice and play it all day long in their shop.
  • While getting out of my car in a basement car park under a prestigious Gold Coast resort hotel, I was stopped by two ladies who were similarly looking around in wonderment for the “beautiful sound echoing through the car park.”
  • Stepping out of my car in front of the beauty therapist’s on the Sunshine Coast, a lady stopped her purposeful walk to work and stood perfectly still exclaiming, “Wow! That sound is incredibly beautiful. Why aren’t you on the stage?”
  • A favourite comment from a work colleague during a singing dry spell: “Please start singing again. It doesn’t feel right here when you don’t sing.”

I did not respond to these confirmations as accolades because my voice already felt lovely… to me! I simply thanked them and shared with them whatever I had been singing about.

I share this not to show that I have a beautiful voice that people love. It is to share how, my singing glorious music for myself as a natural expression of how I am feeling at that time, has a deeply profound effect on so many people. And yet I sing because I sing – because it is part of who I am. It is the same quality I used to have as a child that I feel people are hearing in my voice. They are hearing a woman connected with herself: lovely, gorgeous, content.

No need for accolade, no need for a stage, no moulding, no applause. I am simply just being me, singing about who we are and where we are from.

Is it possible that this is what singing is in its most natural form?

So, I have learned to detach my singing from performance and the effects have been exquisite.

Will I ever sing on stage again? Yes, I will take this natural quality of self connection to my ‘performance’… which won’t be a performance, but rather a sharing of who I am and who we all are.

Music and singing have become for me, once again, as natural and lovely as breathing.

Inspired by my connection to me and by Michael Benhayon’s Glorious Music albums.

Dedicated to my Dad, William Hensey, who made sure my childhood home was filled with music, song and dance.

By Coleen Hensey
My Relationship with Music: It’s about Connection not Perfection
Exploring, and Singing with, my True Voice

1,167 thoughts on “Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

    1. I agree the simplicity is where the beauty is, and that is what is felt by others, not trying, no wanting be anything, just sharing from the heart.

  1. Letting go of our need to be someone or to receive something from what we do, takes the natural joy and playfulness out of life. We are configuring our bodies to move in a certain way that holds us back from our natural flow and rhythm and this stifles our true expression from inspiring and illuminating the world.

  2. It’s amazing how we have taken the things that are so simple, natural and vital and made them into hard to achieve things. The idea that one day you could ‘be’ a musician, when today you can make cool sounds with your pots and pans is quite absurd to me. What you make clear here Coleen, is that joy is not something we need to study and learn but is right here, right now waiting for us to become free. Now this truly is music to my ears.

  3. Beautiful Coleen. Recently I have started a self experiment of singing to myself once a day, I’ve never been big into singing but what I am finding is that the less I compare myself to the singer and just stay with and accept my voice for however it is, I feel lighter in myself and feel more in rhythm with who is singing the song on my phone. Never having any formal training sometimes I am surprised at myself for reaching certain pitches or singing a very long note without gasping for air! Singing in connection also doesn’t hurt my throat whereas in the past if I tried to sing to please or sound ‘right’ my throat would tire quickly and soon hurt.

  4. Thank you, Coleen, as you share, I can feel the joy of people singing and how we often have closed it down , from the belief ‘that you can sing’ or the fear of being judged. But what I sensed from this blog is how we are free to do so and that what we sing and how our voice is heard is that which we live. So there is nothing to shy away from if we want to be honest. It is a matter of feeling who we are and acknowledging that our voice is a representation of how we live – either in connection or the absence of that. Nothing to be ashamed, just simply a learning.

  5. It is such an important point you raise here Colleen, the difference between performing and sharing ourselves in different expressions such as singing. Performance for me means seeking needs to be fulfilled by either the performer or the audience and yet sharing ourselves goes so much wider and connects each other in our equall-ness of nature.

  6. It’s not just singing per se people miss, but more the love, joy and playfulness in our words, speech, sound and song. These days even talking to another can be so loaded with emotion and seriousness that it is no wonder so many find hearing such emotion-free sound a great blessing.

  7. To simply appreciate our innate qualities and share them with others openly, without reservations for any reason are heavens gifts for ourselves to appreciate with joy in full. When we do there is not one part of us that seeks any confirmation from another source, heaven’s confirmation brings all the joy and love to who we are.

  8. I love that your father inspired you in your younger years Coleen, and that song and dance was a natural part of your home life and growing up so it did not feel special or different. When we put expectations on our natural abilities we put pressure on ourselves to perform or to seek recognition rather than enjoying what is naturally in us to express.

  9. ‘I will take this natural quality of self connection to my ‘performance’… which won’t be a performance, but rather a sharing of who I am and who we all are.’

    I’m inspired by the quality of what you speak of here and how it relates to all we do from the quality of our essence.

  10. What you describe about how you are in different contexts, I think many of us do this in different parts of our lives. We take on and mould ourselves to what we think we need to be and in this we let go of and lose connection to who we are. It is inspiring when you see someone walk to their own rhythm and not that of the mob.

  11. It’s fascinating to see and acknowledge the extent to which we so willingly bastardise that which is innate within us for recognition and reward outside of us. Instead of singing quietly and naturally to ourselves and those around us we seek an aggrandisement that takes us away from who we are – only to eventually discover how far from home we’ve strayed… and how lost we truly are.

  12. We are so natural in how we express and then we get caught in the praise and how others react and we loose our naturalness, and suddenly it’s a performance and we are lost. This applies to so many areas of our lives and none of us are immune, in fact we’ve created whole lives, careers and structures to commend those performances and yet when we meet that naturalness again, that innocence we are awe struck as we know and feel that this is what it is to truly express and we remember we are more than our performances, we are innately lovely and when we express that, it is magic just in itself, no accolades needed.

  13. When I listen to people singing who are singing from their essence and therefore not trying to impress people or seduce them in any way it is so beautiful as their music does not impose on you but just allows you to be. It is so joyful to sit and listen to it.

  14. Coleen that is so beautiful you are singing from your essence and touching many others. Like you say “No need for accolade, no need for a stage, no moulding, no applause. I am simply just being me, singing about who we are and where we are from.” this is a great reminder that all we need to be is who we are.

  15. Wow is it possible then that we all know the energetic quality of sound? That we can all actually feel when someone is singing from an emptiness or a lack or a need for recognition? And that we can all equally feel when someone is singing simply from who they are and this resonates deeply with us because it reminds us of who we are too.

  16. “…It was simply a part of who I was and I never questioned it.” This is beautiful and if truly felt deepens our relationship with our voice unfathomably.

  17. Gorgeous Colleen, this is exactly how my young daughter sings and how I feel when I hear her. Our song has the ability to sound Heaven if sung in connection with our true self and in accordance to the tune of the Universe we are so held in. The thing is, we as humans have created our own song that is in complete discordance to such a vibration and as such moulds and shapes us in a way that sees us attune ourselves to a vibration that is not of the love and truth we are. Therefore we need to be very discerning as to the energy in which a song is sung. If it is sung from who we truly are, then there is great healing in the sound and likewise if it is sung from who we are not, we only add to the harm in the world no matter how pitch perfect our voice may sound.

  18. When I think of shows such as X Factor which promote and glorify someone talents I see them as very harming, to build someone up like that is for sure a road to disaster. When we sing true with no recognition needed heaven rejoices, when we sing to be better than someone else or sing to prove something the quality goes down the pan and the harm we then cause to ourselves or another becomes apparent.

  19. I love the final line ‘inspired by my connection to me and the music of Michael Benhayon’. Without a relationship with ourselves we miss the magic in life.

  20. Thank you Coleen, there is nothing like the unbridled freedom of self expression and the joy of simply singing for oneself. It warms my heart every time I read this blog. I notice when I’m in public I often do feel to sing but hold it back because of my environment. We have placed so many expectations on how we should sound that the natural act of singing for the joy of it is fairly absent in the world.

  21. There is such joy when singing is simply how we choose to express – listen to anyone sing in the shower and you’ll be reminded of this. When the performance element comes into it, things can change quite quickly. But in recent years I have seen singers perform whilst staying with that joy in their body and it is a blessing to be showered with a voice from heaven.

  22. Singing is an expression , just as anything else we do, and first and foremost is the quality that we sing is which is important. Everything else comes from that quality. Over the years singing has been put on a pedestal of ‘performance, which has taken it a way from the beautiful natural expression that we all have and can enjoy.

  23. If something is an innate quality… a part of you in your essence, thats true expression brings joy to you and others, then this is something that should never be tainted or suppressed.

  24. There are some moments where it is singing that can change a mood, or appreciate a shared moment of tenderness or imperfection that anything else would struggle to do.

  25. I really notice the difference in the young children at my work when I sing from me. They really sit up and take notice and they are actually very still and quiet. And when I finish the song, they say, more.

  26. Coleen, this article is so beautiful to read, I love how you now sing as you go about your day, what a joy for the people that you meet. I also really enjoy this in young children as they contentedly hum or sing a song, this feels so joyful and heavenly, the quality is very different to when someone sings to please others or for recognition.

  27. It is interesting how we never hear people singing anymore, even though many have headphones in and you can hear the music. When I was a child people used to sing and whistle all the time whilst going about their working day. Both my father and grandfather had good singing voices and would burst into song, and the milkman or postman would be whistling along, these day they get told off if they are whistling because it wakes the customers up. Now with music everywhere you go maybe it has gone out of fashion to spontaneously burst into song.

  28. I love how you have brought back the joy into your singing. Rather than seeing it as a skill or something to get recognised by. If singing is a natural expression, then why hold back on this – and as you see here – what a joy it brings to everyone.

  29. The speed at which we take on various roles is truly breath-taking; it seems we will do whatever it takes to mould ourselves into what is expected of us, how we interpret those expectations and make them fit evermore tighter and better. Unless, of course, we see through it and drop this bundle.

  30. Hearing another sing, particularly as we go about our day to day activities, and they just naturally express who they are, is a beautiful thing to behold. When we allow ourselves to just be – to move, express and sing in a way that is totally us, it inspires others to do the same.

  31. Watching another ‘sell out’ from their natural expression (which many famous singers do) might look entertaining but as a society in supporting this what message are we giving every young child who is watching all this?

  32. When we open our mouth to speak do we go into a performance or do we stay with our body and speak only what needs to be said? This is worth pondering on.

  33. There is a big difference in singing for the love of it versus being made to sing in a particular way. And this can be applied to any other aspects of life too…How freeing to realise this, and then to live for the love of it and not to live because of a certain way one is expected to live.

  34. From what I’ve observed it’s massively challenging to detach from the recognition and the artistic license that music provides you, so it’s super cool to know you just love singing and the feel of your voice.

  35. I love my voice! This has always been the case but I lost sight of this and couldn’t feel it anymore when I was singing to be recognised for it. Working with Chris James over the past few years, I have reconnected to the pure joy of expressing with my voice and from my whole body. Its been a gift that I cherish and deepen and to coin a cheesey phrase, ‘just keeps on giving’!.

  36. I have experienced listening to people that have been singing for recognition of singing and those that are singing for the pure joy and harmony that this expression offers us all and the two are very different in how they leave you. The later leaves you to just simply be and have the space to enjoy what is being shared. Sometimes it is offering opportunities to let go of things we are holding in the body, I can vividly connect to times when I feel energetic shifts in my body. Glorious Music and Miranda Benhayon are extremely powerful in what they share and it is an absolute joy to listen to them.

  37. Lovely to read Coleen. I also love singing, and also sing to myself when I am content. And I do feel I have a lovely voice as well. Does singing not come out first as being content? Something we all naturally do? I also used to be up on stage, to get recognition, and have stopped that a long time ago. Let’s see what surfaces now when I just sing for the joy of me…

  38. “My ‘church’ voice had different qualities to my ‘I want to be a singer when I grow up’ voice.”
    Love this Coleen as it shows us on a micro cosmic level how we approach life, compartmentalising; only recently I attended a presentation by Serge Benhayon and he talked about how our bodies are made to express as a unified whole, yet because we have made life about parts we over do some parts and under do others; resulting in dis- ease like a frozen shoulder or arthritic hands etc. There is only one voice and that is our true voice.

  39. ‘Music and singing have become for me, once again, as natural and lovely as breathing.’ Beautifully said Colleen, completely the same as everything we do.

  40. What a glorious feeling Coleen; a beautiful sharing very much appreciated;
    “This time, however, I was singing just for me, only when I felt to sing, and whatever glorious song I felt to sing”.

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