I have been singing my whole life. It brings me joy to let my voice flow out in song. Singing is a form of grace for me.
Then why am I resistant so often to get up on the stage and sing?
Sometimes, I do not wish to sing. Sometimes I am annoyed and want to stay quiet and go within. Sometimes I feel stuffy and my singing sounds bad. These are a couple of things that show up when I am preparing myself to sing.
And then, add to that singing with my husband in our vocal duo WoodSong. A whole new layer of issues arises for me. Such as, our relationship “stuff”, differences in practicing schedule planning, our different working styles for bringing in new music and the worry about being good enough. You would think after years of working together, that that would dissipate. But it doesn’t.
It is one thing to wrestle with your own demons when you work by yourself, and still another to join in with one more vulnerable soul. Top that off with putting yourselves out there in front of a crowd for everyone to actually see and experience your vulnerability. Some days it is surprising to me that I even sing at all!
But I do sing out…and I love it!
Here is what happened recently as I took time to reflect (while singing at a recent gig!).
Standing on the stage as we began some of the thoughts that run through my mind were these:
Are there enough people here?
Will they leave if we are terrible?
Will they like us or are they here to judge us?
We have been asked to turn it down already!
Those first few notes we sang…uggg…!
There are emotions attached to every moment while thinking these random thoughts. While singing, I have to smile through it ALL and deal with the emotions that come up while staying true to the music. I want to communicate with the audience the emotions and feelings that are within the music.
Then, my mind begins talking, taking me out of my singing zone and messing with me physically; meaning I lose focus on the mechanics of singing and start to falter. My singing partner, (my husband!) looks at me and sends me messages with his eyes. (What does THAT look mean???) All of this is happening while singing in front of a group of people who I feel are judging me. It can be exhausting…
However, from what I know about those voices that crop up, I find that it is MY projection of how I feel I am singing. Those thoughts of how I am feeling are all in MY mind. I start to see that I project my own thoughts and emotions onto others in the audience and also my singing partner.
During that same gig, I began to think about stage performers and anyone who stands in front of an audience to perform or present.
We have NO idea what they have just been through before they stepped onto the stage. We have NO idea how they prepared for this presentation. We cannot get into their heads. All we have is our own perceptions which come from our own experiences. And we “sense” their emotion through their body language and/or the emotions they attach to their performance. But we can only make assumptions…and usually, they are false.
We only have the thoughts in our own mind. I only know what I am thinking. Sometimes performers touch our hearts with their singing, acting, presenting and sometimes not. However, that is OUR perception based on what we need at the time. They are being vulnerable each time they stand in front of us to share a bit of themselves with us. And this is enough.
Back to being that vulnerable performer.
What I have discovered is that it is about setting intention as I step onto the stage. I decide how I will BE. What I must HAVE to be prepared for a performance. Then, what I will DO to create this moment in time for myself and the audience.
You can be as prepared as you want. However, there are always outside forces to be met with. The audience and their energy, your own issues that you bring to the stage and any partnership you are in as you perform.
Vulnerable, vulnerable, vulnerable…
Yet, when you set the intention to give your best performance from where you are right now, it is just that.
…and that is all that we can ask of ourselves.