Episode 8 – Why Aren’t You Singing?

Episode 8 – Why Aren’t You Singing?

Yep. That’s a bit of a zinger of a question isn’t it? And I bet when you read that, your brain started to provide all kinds of ‘sensible’ answers?

In this episode we unpack some of the old stories and beliefs that might be holding you back from singing.
We talk about:
➡️ lack of confidence and stage fright

➡️ lack of opportunity

➡️ not knowing how to choose a song

➡️ technical concerns or fear of injury.

I share my stage fright origin story and have some suggestions for how you might uncover and start to release yours. 

If you enjoyed the warm-up and cool down episodes and want to dig deeper, my short online course Essential Warm-Ups for Busy Voice Actors is a great next step, and at $28 it’s a bargain if I say so myself 😁

Also, if this episode has made you feel like you migt enjoy a deeper journey into uncovering your blocks to singing you can sign up here to be among the very first to know about my new live class offering. 

Please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review this podcast ❤️ Thank you so much for listening.

Here’s the messy transcript

Welcome to episode eight. Now, just before we jump into this week’s content, I wanna say, I hope you really enjoyed the warm up and cool down info in the first seven episodes. And that you’ve got some good stuff from that. Um, if you did, and you want to dig a little deeper, I have a mini course for you that you can take at your own pace.

It’s all online, there’s videos and all kinds of exercises and things. Um, and. $28. It’s called ‘Essential Warm-Ups and Cool Downs for Busy Voice Actors’, and, uh, you can find that at www.yourfreevoice.com/resources  , and that has a whole bunch of the stuff we did in the podcast plus more, um, you can go and have a look at that and preview what the lessons are and, uh, it’s 28 bucks, so, you know, it’s a bit of a barg’, honestly. So there you go.   Www.yourfreevoice.com/resources -essential warmups and call downs for busy voice actors. And that works if you’re a podcaster or whatever. Okay. That’s the advert done? I’m changing tack a little bit here for episode eight and I’m getting into the meat and potatoes of it.

As I said, the first few episodes we had have been very technical, very, um, uh, actionable things that you can do physically with your voice. And I hope they’ve been useful too. What we’re gonna start looking at a bit more now, uh, for the next few episodes is a little bit more about the mindset behind using your voice.

Particularly singing. Singing seems to be for many people, one of the most vulnerable and exposing things that we can do. If you play any other instrument, you have something to hide behind. You have strings keys, you can press, uh, a trumpet, you can blow whatever there’s something. In between you and the world, right? There’s a little something there. When we’re singing, the breath is coming from the deepest part of us, and being formed into something inside of us and then expressed, and it just feels so deeply personal. I quoted this in the first episode two, um, and I hope I’m not gonna misquote it, but Alfred Wolfsohn said “the voice is the muscle of the soul”, and there’s no, uh, getting around that. And I think it’s amplified when we’re singing. In my training as a Voice Movement Therapy Practitioner, one of the things I quickly learned was that it’s much easier for us to hold on to stories and emotions when we’re talking than when we’re singing it’s as if singing about things takes a filter off and it’s much easier for emotions to come through. Um, the singers that move us the most deeply are the ones that are engaging on a kind of soul level. They’re really communicating the emotion of the song and that’s what we all want because it’s, it’s totally it’s there. Right? However, when you are beginning to sing, when that’s like the start of your journey, And you go to sing something and you feel so moved by the emotion of it that you might cry or, uh, find yourself with no breath to support your voice because you’re feeling really emotional about it or you’re just, um, terrified of singing in front of people. Then it’s kind of, it’s a bit of a journey, right? It’s a bit of a journey. 

So my question today with all my rambling preamble. If you wanna sing, but you’re not why, why aren’t you singing right now? And, and I’m leaving the bit of space there, cuz I want you to actually think, oh, that’s right…

I’m not singing. I want, I want you to have room for those answers. To come into your mind. So if you are able, if you’re not driving or, you know, supporting a small child over over your head or something like that, why don’t you grab a pen and a piece of paper and just pause this for a second and answer my question.

Why aren’t you singing right now? And just write down everything that comes into your head. Doesn’t matter how crazy it is. Write it all. Write the thing, pause this, get, get a pen and paper and go and do that. Okay. Off you go. If you’re walking the dog or driving or something and you couldn’t do that, let’s just proceed.

So my guess is that you wrote down things like, uh, I’m not good enough. My voice isn’t good enough. Uh, people don’t wanna hear me. Uh, I don’t know how to sing. Uh, people will laugh at me. People think I’m a show off. What if I fail? Uh, I don’t have the skills. My voice always breaks in the middle. I don’t have any power.

You’ve written them all down. And then you can look at that list. And I want you to look at it again and think to yourself, okay, let’s go through each of these things. I’m not gonna remember the things I said, but look at each of the things and ask yourself, first of all, how long have you been holding onto that story?

Right. You might have a particular age in mind, or it might just be years or my whole life, or since that choir teacher told me to, uh, mouth the words instead of singing, or since I was pushed into doing that operatic recital, when I really wasn’t ready and I was crushed, um, or that’s personal, isn’t it? 

Cause that’s  one of mine. Um, what else? Uh, Since I did really well in a school competition and my best friend wouldn’t talk to me afterwards, cuz they were so jealous. You’ll be amazed when you really think about the story that you are just carrying on kind of auto repeat. That’s just set in there about why you can’t sing right now.

Um, It’s in there.  and it probably started a really, really long time ago and it’s not even relevant anymore. So if you look at that, so if I take my one about my operatic experience,  I did not feel ready to sing this aria in German. I was 15. Um, I didn’t feel like I had mastery of the language.

Uh, I didn’t wanna do it. Um, and up until that point, I didn’t have, uh, stage fright. And then I got on stage and decided that I’m  () not advising. This is a good idea at all.) Um, in order to get through it and get off the stage as fast as I could, because I knew I was gonna make a horrible mess of it. I would sing it as fast as I could , which is actually kind of crazy when I think about it now, and the poor accompanist was going as fast as he could, like as fast as he could. And it was horrific, it was a, it was a, it was a. It was just a big mess. And, um, I wasn’t proud of myself. Uh, I saw, um, some faces like looking rather astonished and, um, that kind of set in this stage fright then. You know, I then actually went on to have terrible stage fright for years.

I did a lot of performing in my late teens and early twenties at folk festivals around the UK. Um, Womad  and, and, uh, were different festivals all over the place. And, uh, I would get excruciating stage fright before I went on stage. Uh, at one point I was at a festival. I think it’s in the new forest somewhere.

And, uh, I was so terrified before I went, went on stage. Like half my face went numb. Like the right side of my face just went completely numb. I had no sensation in the side of my face. Um, yeah, I mean, wow. I can tell you stories about stage fright might have had them. Uh, but when I trace it back, it was, for me, it feels like that.

For me, it feels like that one recital kind of set it in motion and I’m not blaming my teacher. She felt like I was ready and I dunno was a teenager and I didn’t feel ready and I felt pushed. And, um, but it’s amazing how sometimes something like that can start off a ball rolling in your mind and it just kind.

It gets harder and harder to UN unpick. I’m mixing my metaphors and I apologize, but you know what I mean? So look at your list. Think about the thing that, uh, there’s gonna be a big thing, probably of all these things on your list. There’s gonna be probably one big thing of why you aren’t singing right now, and then there’s gonna be a lot of other things too.

So I’ve talked about lack of confidence or stage fright. Uh, you might also feel. Uh, lack of opportunity. Like, I don’t get the chance to sing cuz there’s none of that in my neighborhood or blah, blah, blah, or, or I don’t know what to sing. Right. That’s another thing of like, I don’t even know where to start of choosing a song or, or finding people that I could sing with or, um, it’s the technical stuff.

Like I have this terrible register break or I don’t have enough breath or I can’t reach the high notes. These kinds of. Or you’ve been injured in the past and now you’re just terrified of re-injuring yourself. That’s another one. All these things I’m talking about are all things that, um, people have come to me with.

Right? Absolutely things that people come to me with on a regular basis. So let’s look right. So let’s look. The first thing we do is we look at the stories, right? We write down all the stories and we identify how old we were or how long we’ve been hanging onto it. And is that situation still valid? So in my situation, I’d go and I’d look, and I’d say, is somebody, somebody outside of myself making me sing stuff that I’m not ready to.

right? No, absolutely not. Whenever I’m in a situation where I have to perform. I make sure that I know the stuff before I go on stage. I make sure, like, I really know the stuff. So in case other people will forget their parts or a piece of scenery falls over or whatever, I still know what I’m doing. Right.

I just prepare and prepare. That’s how I do it now. Also, it was a very long journey to understand that, but look at it. Is it still. True false, false, right. In my case. And so you go through each thing on your list and decide, is it true or false? So when it comes to something like, you know, my choir teacher told me to mime the words because I can’t sing in tune.

For example, you might think to yourself, yeah. I can’t sing in tune. Okay, so that might be true. Often. I find that it actually isn’t true. Uh, it might be true that you’re not singing in tune right now, but guess what? You know, if you practice, you can, with the right guidance, you totally be able to sing in tune.

If you feel like you aren’t singing in tune, you can totally work that with ear training exercises. And feel more confident that way. So anyway, go through a list. True. False, true, false, true, false. And then I want you to ask yourself, is there anything I can do about the things that I put a T next to for true.

So it might be that you get some ear training exercises, there’s all kinds of free stuff on YouTube and all over the place. Right. For different things. And the lovely thing about YouTube is we can kind of practice it in the secrecy of our own home without anybody seeing us. So that’s not a terrible place to start.

Just simple ear training exercises. Sometimes you need feedback of a live person in the room cuz you don’t trust that you’re doing it. Right. And that’s, you know, that’s when you get yourself some lessons, but there’s all kinds of stuff out there for free. So you’ve gone through your list and you’ve identified the things that you could do something about.

Choose, choose a thing, start doing something about it, right? Because if you start today, tomorrow’s gonna be. I know, it sounds very, kind of easy for me to say, but it’s true about all the things with the lack of confidence and stage fright issue. It’s a bit similar. You have to think to yourself, what is one brave thing I can do around my vocal expression today?

Is it something as simple as making a phone call instead of sending a. Right. Or is it speaking up in a meeting instead of letting everybody else do all the talking? Is it joining, uh, an online singing class or, uh, a music group these days, people are starting to do a little bit more karaoke and things and meet in group.

So is it that, um, is it simple as. Today, deciding you’re gonna sing in the house, even though there are other people there, right? Because that’s a big one, just claiming a little bit of space and having a sing, even though there are people there and a great way to do that is just go to YouTube type in a song.

You fancy singing. One that you can sing along to in the car and just type the song name, and then karaoke. And it’ll bring you the track with the lyrics and just have some fun, right? This is not about you being, uh, Maria callus or Beyonce. All right. So lack of opportunity. This is something that, um, felt really real at the beginning of COVID.

And actually through all that kind of lockdown period, but the great thing about that was even though the in person choirs kind of shut down for a while, uh, tons of stuff happened online. There was an explosion of online offerings. So check out and see are there online, uh, classes or courses that are happening when you want.

Right in your time zone. Um, that’s the only thing that’s gonna restrict you really is your time zone. Um, the tech is easy to understand these days and it’s getting much better for music. So look out for that. Also, you might find that there are opportunities to sing in your neighborhood. Again. Now, as things start to normalize a little bit.

So, so look in your neighborhood too. Okay. The next thing was, uh, not knowing what to.  I think a great place to start is what is the stuff that you feel compelled to sing? Like it’s just kind of like one of your go-to songs when you’re in the shower or driving the car and it might be just the riff of something or a chorus.

I used to always wanna sing that bit from what were they called? The young disciples. Uh, it would be

like that. I just like, I’ve always had that little riff, uh, rolling around in my brain. I’ve never learnt the. But that little riff gets me through a lot of things.  find a song style that you enjoy. So maybe you really enjoy singing country or gospel or rock and find things that you can sing along to without feeling like it goes out of your voice range.

Right? You can increase your range and make your voice stronger. But for, to start with pick something that is kind of easy for you to sing along. Right. Um, that’s a great place to start extra points. If you can find something that makes you feel good. Right because we all need that. I say right. A lot. Okay.

Stop that. Uh, then we have the technical concerns. All of these things can be addressed with coaching lessons, um, whether it’s range, power. Uh, registered break. Uh, fear of injury is included in this too. Like really learning how your voice apparatus works and how not to injure yourself, uh, all that stuff you can find with coaching and singing lessons.

So really they’re big piece of all of this, their big takeaway. Is what is going on in your mind that is telling you that you don’t get to sing. And are you willing to let that keep bossing you around? Are you willing to let your fear stop you from singing? Yeah, let’s say no, let’s say a big, no to that.

Let’s start to identify what the stories are. Find their origin route, find where they came from and, uh, clear ’em out. Right? Take some action. I think that’s the thing to do. So I’m actually going to be launching a brand new course very soon, which I’m gonna tell you about in the next, uh, episode. Um, and it’s all about this.

It’s all about this journey into song. So. There’s gonna be really limited spaces. So be sure to subscribe so that you get the info, as soon as it comes out, cuz I’m only gonna have 12 spots. Um, but, uh, I’ll tell you about that next time. In the meantime, if you just want the warm up call down thing I was talking about, that’s your free voice.com/resources and the show notes and all the good stuff from this episode are@yourfreevoice.com slash episode.

And please, uh, subscribe, share review. I’m still trying to get the word out for this podcast. It’s got a very tiny audience, so I so appreciate you listening and, uh, ask me to you next week. Okay. Take care. Bye.