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

1,310 thoughts on “Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

  1. “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.

  2. ‘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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. As I read you Coleen I can see how singing can supports us to confirm that there is an inner place within of joy, harmony, stillness and love to connect with. Could it be possible that the purpose of singing would be in its origins connecting with our inner-most? When we connect with that we can feel free to express, with an authority and state of empowerment that is beyond achievements or accolades so, could it be this the reason why all these pictures and images about singing exists? To suppress these state of contentment within that comes from our sacredness. Wherever we look at – music, art, business, mothering, friendship…- there will be always a ‘perfect picture’ to fit in that prevent us to see and feel how truly unique and amazing we all are. So there is no make sense anymore to follow these rules but to feel within what’s our true way of being in all areas of our life.

  16. Music and singing are full of images based on the famous musicians through history and the big amount of technics such as depth of voices, tones, refinement…all of that conditioned my natural way of singing and prevented me from connecting with my precious voice. Since recently I’m singing and it feels amazing even though it never fits with the ideas of what ‘good music’ is about. I’m finding that it is part of me and how beautiful it is just feeling the vibration of my voice in my chest or a quality that comes from a new acceptance of myself. There is a delicatness inside that I can feel by singing but also joy, playfullness and a deep celebration for being here so alive and radiant.

  17. Incredible how we measure ourselves over and over again until we have created something so far away from who we truly are, even more incredible that underneath we never change – the true, pure essence of who we are remains waiting for us to claim it back.

    1. There is an irony to trying to measure ourselves in order to define who we are and know who we are because the intention and act of measuring removes us from simply being who we are. Measurement requires judgement and keeps us rooted to past acts that can become invaluable lessons if we didn’t judge ourselves for them. It can be as simple as labelling ourselves, like I am an angry person – look, here are all the examples which ‘prove’ this. Whilst we judge ourselves we keep recreating an image, a way of being that is false. In this we never allow ourselves to be who we truly are, a potential that is always there for us to choose and live.

  18. When we do anything in oder to get recognition then it is not true. We have to know our own worth regardless of what we do.

  19. “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.” I love this Coleen. When we take self out of the equation with regard to performing the result can be exquisite – and not a ‘performance’..

  20. I doubt I will ever be one for singing in public but I do love a good sing around the house alongside my favorite cd’s.

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