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

1,319 thoughts on “Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

  1. Feeling the leave you alone qualities of Glorious Music and the many esoteric musicians creates a uniqueness in todays society, which is totally different from the many tunes that crush us and leave us feeling empty or in emotional term-oil.

  2. I have recently started learning to play the piano, and have discovered that much of the teaching techniques that are available on line or through the shops feel quite constricting and in fact I have felt put off by this. But now I have discovered a different way of learning and one where I am more free to explore and have fun whilst still learning the basics so to speak – this is thanks to some wonderful teachers who each have amazing and inspiring qualities.

    1. A teacher asked me recently if my son, who has an innate musicality, has begun formal instruction in the subject.. That phrase contains the whole consciousness of constriction you talk of Henrietta – it can certainly take the spontaneity and joy out of it! Awesome that you have found some teachers who can remain connected to what it feels like it is all about rather than making it an academic process.

  3. Coleen – a gorgeous sharing that highlights how performing is not a natural thing for us and takes its toll on the body, but presenting what is already within is a different story for it is a form of true expression that is deeply healing.

  4. I would love to hear you sing Coleen and this was incredibly cute ‘I was a trainee angel of compliance in church, an aspiring pop star with my friends’ but shows how with anything in life if we have not got that innate connection with ourselves and stay true to who we are in any given environment just how much we ‘adapt’ to fit in, hence not being who we truly are but instead being what we feel is needed by others.

  5. When someone sings or plays music without a need for accolade, recognition or self gratification there is a depth to their voice that is felt by the whole body and not just the ears, and is a joy to behold.

    1. Alison this is spot on, and when we drop the performance our true qualities get to shine through and bless others in the process.

  6. It is very beautiful when we are ourselves and singing and speaking is a natural expression of who we are. I am finding this with my voice, being open and simply delivering what is there to be delivered with no reservations and at the same time letting go of any need for recognition from another because what is being said is not from me but from God.

  7. There is nothing more beautiful than to hear someone sing from their essence, there is no intrusion while listening, just the harmony of one soul to another.

  8. When we mould ourselves to sing in a certain way to preform, and it becomes exactly that a performance because we lose the beautiful connection we have within.

  9. Today I listened to someone sing who did not have a particularly great singing voice but she sang from her heart and it was absolutely exquisite what she delivered.

  10. We live within the song of God but whether we allow ourselves to move in tune with this or not will depend on how we have positioned ourselves energetically to hear this tune or remain deaf to it.

  11. “I merely sang with my own, unaffected, innate voice. It was simply a part of who I was and I never questioned it.” There is something extrememly beautiful and deeply profound about singing in this way. It brings the whole body alive and reminds us of who we truly are and where we are from.

  12. ‘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.’ I can get caught up in thinking I have to perform in many areas of my life and yet what if it really was as simple as sharing who I am and who we all are? Many years ago I thought I had to perform at being good at sex but sharing who I am in all my transparency is intimacy. What about exams? I have some counselling exams in a few months, I have placement clients now. What if this too is about sharing who I am and all we are too. Interesting to ponder because whatever I do I can share all of me and tick the boxes knowing the purpose behind them is grander.

  13. There is this constant pressure to perform, and to be good at what we do, both from outside as well as ourselves, as we are so desperate to be recognized and validated. It really takes joy out of simple expression.

  14. I often watch my 5 year old daughter sing quietly to herself while she goes about her play and I marvel at the way her movements are in tune to a song that many of us have forgotten sings deep within us all.

  15. To be around someone who is singing to express their qualities within and then to be around someone who is trying to show you what they can do is a dead give away. The more subtle nature of someone who is connected to their inner essence and feel the joy in this and want to express is truly beautiful to be around and appreciate what they are singing.

  16. It makes so much sense to start with connecting with and breathing our own natural breath, and then extend that to what we sing.

  17. This could be applied to anything we do, we either do it from a true impulse of joy and true expression or we do it to belong or to get recognition, the former heals us and others, the latter harms us and others.

  18. Why do we put so much force upon that what naturally is in us to make its expression to match other’s expectations when we grow older – while we where totally free in this expression when we where young? A beautiful question to ponder on today.

  19. When we express ourselves in full from the glory that we are, we not only bless ourselves but also everybody that are around and the space we are in.

  20. How powerful is it when we are just us, totally sure of who we are and what we bring and then express and share this with others. The complete opposite when we are needing something from others and how imposing that really is.

  21. When we love ourselves no accolade is needed, when we know who we are we don’t need to do anything to feel accepted.

    1. We only need to be accepted when we did not accept ourselves for the beautiful person that we are to start with.

  22. The quality of our singing is crucial. We can easily sing as a distraction or for numbness or it can be an expression of our fullness.

  23. This was beautiful to read how you’ve claimed your voice back for you, not performing or needing to be recognised, but just the pure enjoyment of singing and sound, and the way it changes the flow of energy through us and around us.

  24. This need for accolade is huge, and I can see how it plays itself out in many areas of life, such as in completing a work task and seeking praise from the boss for doing it, cleaning our rooms and seeking praise from our parents for doing it, everything with the focus on what we have done or what we can do and not so much attention paid to the being inside. This way of living is perhaps far more insidious than is often thought because it gives so much by way of praise and recognition, when in fact it is leaving behind the delicate and sensitive being inside who seeks to feel loved above all else – a love that can not be done as it is only really found through the quality of our living ways – quality of tone, touch, movement, relationship – everything has the potential to be given with love, leaving no one feeling less or needing more.

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