I recently received an email from a singer who was feeling discouraged about her experience with singing. She expresses so well a common experience for singers of all skill levels. She says,
“I wanted to ask you a question if that’s ok, and would like to know what your thoughts are please… I know that singing doesn’t come really naturally to me and I have other things that do. There have been many, many challenges that I’ve come across when l started and have had to learn all from scratch in the later stages of my life. There have been many, so many times when I’ve just said I’m not doing it any more, I give up etc., but eventually something pulls me back into it. My heart. It’s my heart’s desire to sing. My question is, if I truly feel this, then why is it so challenging for me? Why can’t I just sing with ease, with soul after all this time?”‘
Oh my heart. I feel you so, discouraged singer. It can be so, well, discouraging to not feel that the sound you so wish to create is available for you. To feel things so deeply in your soul, yet feel unable to express them. Believe me, I know, know, know.
There were years of my life ~ a good 15-20 years ~ where singing was just so frustrating, confusing, confounding. I loved singing. I wanted so passionately to share my voice with others. I knew it was a calling. And yet when performing, no matter how much practice had come before, no matter how much I tried to throw myself into the singing and let my voice express the depth of emotion and love that I felt, I often panicked. Literally. Yes, this was not mere performance anxiety. I was actually having panic attacks onstage. Under contract. Performing in front of giant audiences of people.
So believe me, I hear you every single discouraged singer out there, ever.
It’s been a long road I’ve journeyed with my voice and eventually as a guide for many others’ voices. Here are some discoveries I’ve made about the journey a singer can expect, from beginning to advanced, hobbyists to professionals…
Singing Is An Art Form
Oh yes. Why do we so easily dismiss this glaring truth? Singing is an art form, and as they say, it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master any skill. 10,000 hours, people! That’s a lot of hours!
Singing is absolutely master-able, but to do it at a very high level takes a lot more work than most people realize. Which means that It just takes sticking with it, and literally and figuratively “finding your voice.” This I know absolutely from personal experience. I nearly gave up singing many times, but singing wouldn’t let me go. I’m so, so, so grateful. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, kept singing, searching, studying, using my voice in all ways imaginable. It didn’t always feel good. Often, as previously mentioned, I was embarrassed in front of entire audiences of people. Not. fun. at. all. But guess what? It got me over myself pretty quickly! Yep. Heaping servings of humble pie. Which, it turns out, happen to be quite healthy for us.
And because I just kept trucking on, slowly, over time, my voice became more embodied, richer, and eventually, a dear friend, confidante, and teacher. It was a mystical process, though at times heart-wrenching, because it was done mostly in the mud of life, just like the lotus flower grows out of the mud. But how beautiful the blossoms of the lotus flower. And all the more beautiful in connection with the mud that gave them life.
Sing Because You Enjoy Singing
Here’s a concept: try not singing for any other reason than that it brings you joy. Kind of radical! We’re taught so much to do things so that we can impress other people. And I’ve been there, done that, and I’m sorry y’all, but, BORING.
First of all, you have absolutely no control over other people’s responses to you or your voice. Period.
Second of all, here’s how I look at it: If someone has a problem with me singing ~ thinking I look or sound funny or they don’t like my voice or music ~ this is a reflection on THEM. Their personal tastes, life experiences, hangups, blocks, etc. If they keep it to themselves, fine. However, if they happen to go out of their way to make a point of criticizing me, I have to remember that this stems from THEIR inner fears, not mine. Right?! Right! And I’m not going to let someone else’s fears rob me of a hella good time.
You Can Use Your Voice As A Service To Humanity
There has been a strong awareness growing within me for years now. It’s that each individual who heeds the calling to reclaim their voice, is an essential part of our collective awakening. They are the brave ones who decide to sing anyway, to sing because they feel called to, and because it feels so good. They are learning to sing with a consciousness and awareness of the healing power of sound, song, frequency, and vibration, which have nothing to do with how you sound and everything to do with what you intend.
So clearly, I’m not talking about singing to impress others or receive accolades. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s just… not as fulfilling as this other reason for singing. Embrace song not to impress others, but as a gift of great healing power. Song creates a connection with our true selves that can literally be like the garden of Eden. We reconnect with the garden within ourselves. And we do it through using our voices in a loving, compassionate, and awake way. This ripples out to benefit ALL of humanity.
Absolutely, train your voice and practice to become better. But along the way, please realize that there is so much more to the sounds you’re creating than “sounding good.” Your voice literally has the frequencies you need to heal yourself, and the human voice has been shown to be the most healing instrument of all, even the untrained, out-of-tune human voice. You are benefiting yourself and the whole world with your songs even if you’re only singing them in a room by yourself. Of course, singing is meant to be shared too, so I hope that in some way that becomes a part of your journey as well. But still, even when you’re singing by yourself, your singing is benefitting our world.
Sound, vibration, and the human voice are the bomb diggity. They literally transform physical reality. There are countless ways in which sound can be used for healing, even if you don’t sound “great.” Just dive in there and start figuring out how you can use your voice for your own healing and to hold space for or influence others’ healing. You’ll never look back.
Just the other day, someone wrote on my Facebook wall that she had a migraine headache that medication just wasn’t touching. The only thing that offered some relief was taking a shower. As she stood naseous with the water pouring over her, she remembered what I said in a voice class ~ that singing literally heals. So she started singing and toning to herself. And her headache went away. She said this is the second untouchable migraine she’s had since class, and the second time that her voice has taken the headache away.
I rest my case. Sound if f***ing powerful. WAY more powerful than simply impressing other people.
So, dear discouraged singer, if you have a calling to sing, please, listen to it. Listen to your still small voice, instead of the loud, rowdy voices of the outside world. There’s a reason for the calling. We may not know what it is yet, but that doesn’t negate the reason or purpose for the calling. Your voice, emanating from a deep place of connection within, serves us all. It’s a way for your inner treasure to speak through you.
That’s the journey I see you on! And want to encourage you in all ways possible. Share your treasure with us please. It’s SO worth it!
With Love & Om On,
Hi! I’m Kimberly Harrison, singer and voice teacher on a mission… to help YOU enjoy your voice and your life more. You can do it in so many simple ways. A great way to start is by asking yourself “What Makes YOUR Soul Sing?” and then letting the answers be your guide…