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

1,270 thoughts on “Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

  1. I used to love singing songs with my dad in the car, we used to do duets, come up with our own words and just have fun – how insane is it that we have turned something so innocent such as singing into the porn industry which it is today…

  2. There is a friend of mine at work who regularly bursts into song out of nowhere as he is listening to something on the radio, and there is a real joy and playfulness to it that is impossible to miss. I could feel myself being uncomfortable when I first heard his voice echoing through the airplane hangar I work in, but that was coming from my own protection of holding back my expression and joy in other ways, I feel, and he has been inspiring to open up more and more.

  3. I recently had a singing with soul session with Carola Woods. I didn’t think I had any traumatic experiences with singing, but I realised that the little exposure I had had to ‘proper’ singing as I grew up had interfered with the freedom and joyful connection to the divine I felt as a little girl singing by myself. I was fine while I was toning or free to make up my own words or sounds but as soon as there was a known song, I contracted and went into my head about getting it right.

  4. When we confirm ourselves first, feedback from others is not sought as validation rather a further confirmation of what we have already felt for ourselves.

  5. Very inspiring Coleen. Once we start trying and needing to please others it changes us and we are no longer able to be our true self. Beautiful that you have undone all the programming to enable you to sing from you in an effortless way.

  6. When we express our all in our own way, magic occurs as is evident from the joy and upliftment felt by people on hearing Coleen’s heavenly voice.

  7. Singing is such a natural fun and enjoyable thing to do yet one so many of us shy away from. In my case it was because I was told I was out of pitch and could not join the choir when I was about 8 or 9 which was devastating at the time.

  8. It is becoming clearer and clearer to me when we do things such as singing purely for recognition or attention, which has become such an accepted way of being. I have to pinch myself time and time again, as it doesn’t come anywhere near to the love that we are. Our behaviours have become so ingrained that it takes an absolute commitment to oneself and to the all to let them go and live the knowing of who we are.

  9. A sound of a voice that is detached by any recognition and just vibrating in the flow of someones essence, is like medicine for the receiver.

  10. A powerful exposure of the lengths we will go to conform and be accepted by others – a false set up that keeps our natural and true expression hidden (locked) away – very detrimental to our true health and wellbeing.
    “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”.

  11. Not only do we need to detach singing from performance but we need to detach most things that we do in life from performing. Our life is not a performance in order to impress others, our life is for us to live the love and truth that we are.

    1. Absolutely! In fact we are not here to make friends, but to reflect love and truth. Which can be very confronting for people. Needing them to applaude will always let you compromise yourself.

  12. If every note, quaver and phrase that we let out carries energy, of what we think and believe, imagine what we truly receive. Consider all the musicians consumed by self-loathing, melancholy, anger, sadness, vitriol, ambition, revenge and you will see so often in life it is not just the sound we hear. For if life is a sea of energy how can we take in one part but not the next? Thanks Coleen for this science lesson.

  13. “My body moved differently in each context, my clothing was different and my persona varied”. I am sure this is recognisable for many people as it relates to how most of us operate in the world. We adjust to the situation simply to fit in and fit the picture. It is very freeing to discover those ways of being and learn to be who we are from the inside out.

  14. Singing is a joyful activity but when you bring in the word performance to me it transforms it into a trying, an effort, a being judged and compared to others, none of which is part of the joy of singing and indeed ensures that the joy is gone from it.

  15. Singing is not something that I do but I appreciate it when I hear others sing and they are fully connected to themselves and not trying to perform or get recognition. There is a difference in the sound and quality of the voice when it comes from their Soul, you can feel that it is natural and not for them but for everyone.

  16. One goes through quite an extraction period as one detaches singing from performance. I have recently been having singing lessons with a gorgeous teacher, not so much because of the singing part of it (though that in itself is a joy), but that I want to break through certain consciousnesses that my generation were strongly imbued with. I had a lesson recently when my voice was having a clearing time and was getting really croaky and froggy and would crack on certain key notes. I felt quite embarrassed about it but am learning to sing through it all and back myself, and not go into the consciousness of acceptable and unacceptable (cringe being the operative word here) I have not quite broken through it yet but am on the way.

    1. The moment we make it about us, the magic is gone. It is never about what we do, but from which place in us we do. The heart unites and never needs to stick out or wants to be better than another.

  17. ‘I am simply just being me, singing about who we are and where we are from.’Such a beautiful simplicity in this. We are incredible beings.

  18. Singing is such a great way to express and also to deeply connect with our body. I noticed that yesterday when I was singing my lungs were getting a great clearing.

  19. Whenever I here my 9 year old daughter sing in the same joyful and uninhibited way that Coleen described it just lights up my day and helps me to reconnect to that same feeling. When we here people expressing in a way that is them totally being themselves without any need for recognition our bodies align to that and it feels wonderful because that is our natural way and we know it deep down.

  20. Singing spontaneously in public feels such a beautiful thing to do. From my previous level of lived contraction it would have been unthinkable to even contemplate but who knows as I keep opening up and expanding?

  21. To be so natural with singing and allowing others to appreciate it, is touching…taking away the forced pressure of performing and simply being you in expression, must make it easy on the ears.

  22. What a lovely story to feel the beauty and strength of a true expression and to appreciate that it is always there but we sometimes make life about other things inside of the truth.

  23. How much do we focus on the end result? On whether others like what we have done? Your words here Colleen remind me true joy lives in savouring every beat of the way that I am. If I enjoy singing my song, it’s not important to me if it’s a hit or not – just knowing it’s composed by God.

  24. It is wonderful to realise that there is no energetic difference between performing on stage to singing in your lounge room.

  25. Once when I was very young my class went to see the film ‘The Sound of Music’ I was so taken by the music that coming home in a bus, full of kids,with the music going around in my head I unknowingly burst into song. This was devastating as I was very shy and thought I was singing in the my head when everyone started to laugh I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me up.You see I used to sing everywhere without even realizing I was singing but after that I became very self conscious. I love how you can freely burst into song Coleen. Very inspiring.

  26. Coleen, this is gorgeous, ‘So, I have learned to detach my singing from performance and the effects have been exquisite. ‘I can really feel the difference between singing and performance, performance coming with a push and a trying and not the natural loveliness of us simply expressing ourselves. I love it when I hear children singing naturally when they are playing, it feels and sounds exquisite.

  27. It seems like it’s not just singing this process occurs for but for our whole life. We focus on end goals, on achieving something tough, but we had it all right at step one, when we enjoy ourselves and just have fun and know we are enough. Without imposing bigger objectives our life can flow in a natural way. Many thanks to you Coleen for sharing your sweet song and how simple it can be to have fun each day.

  28. I never used to sing because I thought I had a bad singing voice. I had a picture around singing and that only singers and those with good voices could sing. But I’ve discovered that we all have an amazing singing voice. That voice can often be hidden underneath hurts and ideals and pictures but it is there within and it feels glorious to let it out.

    1. Me too Nikki, I always considered myself unable to sing but a weekend Chris James course showed me that in fact I can sing if only I stop trying and simply learn to allow the voice to gently pour out.

      1. I furthered this recently in a singing session with Carola Woods. I got to feel the movement of sound in my body and that movement can be the movement of God if that is what I choose. That movement expressed in our voice, is heavenly 🙂

  29. When we express ourselves, true to our essence, it feels complete and it matters not how others would respond or react. What gets expressed is not for anyone to own.

  30. This is very cool to read -the fact that we can offer so much if we take need out of it. There is a lot of pressure on ourselves when we have an expectation or investment – such as here with you wanting people to ‘praise your singing’ – but you have made a huge transformation in letting go of recognition – that is so inspiring.

  31. How awesome it is to go to a concert and feel the open heartedness of the performers who are actually not really performing as such but sharing their love truth and joy and expressing all of that in harmony.

  32. I am totally a public singer too! People love it because it breaks a lot of social unsaid rules, rules that silently demand that we are to keep our heads down and avoid eye contact, rules that are designed to keep us apart, instead of in harmony together (pun intended). Deep down we all want to bust out in song on the street or in a line or in our car, only difference is, that people like me and you actually do it! And people love it as they can feel true freedom in expressing like that.

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