Most of us have a dysfunctional relationship with our singing voice. It's never good enough, and we long ago lost the joy of singing for fun. In fact, our whole culture has taught us that only a chosen few are 'singers', and that the rest of us have ugly, undesirable voices.
Reclaim the joy of singing: enjoy the blog or watch the episode.
Why don't you sing every day?
I'm just going to remind you – go back to being five years old, when you danced and sang and played, and you were just a crazy little fool, with no sense of having to be perfect or no sense of what a good voice sounds like. It just came out and there was one emotion that predominated. It was joy. You had joy when you sang.
And then you got older, and it stopped being joyful. So what happened? And the real question is, most of us want more joy. We spend our whole lives trying to minimize stress and buy nice things and go for walks or go for a run, or see people to feel better. And at the bottom of this, is this desire to feel joy. And I'm going to put it out there that joy is actually the baseline inside us. Yeah, there are tough days. But underneath that, there's a subtle joy that wants to burst, that wants to flower. And we struggle to access it as modern, as... busy humans, as adults.
So what's going on is happening at a number of different levels. The first one, let's go a little macro, cultural... I was brought up in an insane culture where singing has become totally elitist. It used to be a communal thing, or a community thing. People would sing in church, they would sing in community. Now you have one singer, and everybody else is not a singer. That is absolute insanity. So in other words, what's normal is having 50,000 people in a stadium, loving up on the singer, and they don't regard themselves as singers. Are you with me, please just drop a comment that you can see that, that is insanity. That is a whole stadium of people giving up their voice and essentially giving up their joy.
And I want to say that we are wired for this, literally, the vagus nerve drops out of the brainstem via the throat into the heart, through to the guts. And that governs our "social engagement", our sense of safety with others, and what blossoms when we have strong vagal tone, is joy, comfort, a sense of safety, a sense of connection, a sense of groundedness, since of just being, "Hey, I'm me." And interconnected joy, interconnected enjoyment. There's us, we, not just me and my stuff and my problems. It's WE.
So this crazy elitist notion that "singing is for singers", "dancing is for dancers", what? "That person is a dancer". "I'm just a bad dancer". I mean, it is literally true that I'm a bad dancer, but I want to be an enjoyable dancer. So this professionalism, this professionalizing of singing, has essentially destroyed all the fun.
Because now what happens is that we listen to recordings, where, for example, that singer got 10, 20, 30 takes of one line. You hear yourself singing, and you sing in the moment, you don't have 10 takes, you don't have 20 takes, you judge yourself for the one time you sing it. Those singers also have their voices auto-tuned and of course, because they're singers, they sing every day, so they've gotten reasonably good at it. But the levels of perfection in the recordings, bear no resemblance to what they sound like in real life. There are also effects like reverb and delay and all kinds of things to make them sound not like a human normal voice.
Modern music when you listen to, is a lie. It's a lie designed to kind of make you feel good for a bit but it's going to make you disown your own voice. So just know that what's going on inside of you, in terms of belief systems about your voice, is a lie. And you know the crazy thing is that, actually the churches and and other places where singing happens, they know exactly what's going on. You watch an evangelical church online and you can scoff if this is not your thing. But just look for joy, and you will see people beside themselves in joy and there's something going on there. And that wiring is much older than the church, this wiring for being together in a circle and joy flooding the body and connection flooding the body and that's social engagement just arising through us. We really are tribal social creatures.
And of course, this undoing of our voices happens at the family level too. There's shut down deluxe, and it's the same socialization, but it coming down into the family, into our developmental wounding, where teasing happens, either parents or grandparents say to the child, "You have an ugly voice, your voice is too small, too girly, too high, too low, too out of tune, too scratchy." And there's this kind of shaming that gets passed... generation, down generation, down generation.
And I want to say, with the clients that I work with, I see time after time, this link between the shutdown in the speaking voice and the shutdown in the singing voice, it's all in this long shaming cycle of let's take a deep breath together. I'm feeling a little enthused about this topic, a little inspired and a little fiery.
My agenda is "we've got to sing together", "we've got to burst through, we've got to rebel and rebel against this conditioning", this tight, it's like being tied up in in string or rubber bands, this tied up conditioning that keeps us small and shut down, and ashamed and living boring lives where we don't sing.
So our voices also become lazy because we haven't been singing. So in other words, our vocal folds, the muscles... musculature and neurophysiology around here, is not conditioned for singing, because we haven't been every day. And so we're going to learn some moves, we're going to learn some strength, dexterity, self-love and flow in this voice, to recover a voice that hasn't been singing for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, we're going to get some love going on here. And I mean, daily love. And so whether it's humming or chanting, something needs to happen here every day.
And if you live in a family environment, yes, sing together. And if you are living by yourself, then group sing, watch my Instagram, there is going to be a lot more group singing events coming up, because I'm going to sing more, and I'm going to sing more in community. I want to see other faces and other faces want to see each other, we're going to see each other, we're going to sing together, cause it feels good.
And my kind of singing is sort of nondenominational. So all faiths, and everything from atheists, to religious people are welcome, and we're just going to sing together. And also I'm going to say we need to show up for vocal liberation work. So that's to liberate our conditioning. So that shaming and shutdown has its roots, when your choir teacher said this, when your mom said that, when your granny said that, when your father never spoke, or when your father shouted, all of that becomes layers and layers of, "I can't" or "I'm too much", or "I'm too little", or "I'm both" and "I can never trust this voice". So... last thing, maybe second last thing, you've got a choice, you can either be good at singing, or you can enjoy singing, you can't have both.
If you want to be precise, and have a beautiful voice and hear yourself and be pleased, then you can do that. Or you can enjoy your voice and "give no #$%cks" and allow it to be faulty, and laugh and enjoy the humanity of it. Because can you see, there's all the joy and there's precision and depression and shutdown.
And I cannot tell you the number of singers, people who consider themselves to be singers, who have a bad time singing because they're in this camp trying to be good.
So come back to joy friends, let's sing. As John Lennon so beautifully said, and he wrote this song unbelievably about Timothy Leary of the expanding consciousness through nefarious substances. He wrote the song Come Together
♪ Come together ♪
♪ Right now ♪
♪ Over me ♪