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

1,244 thoughts on “Music: Detaching Singing from Performance

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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