by Johanna Fredericks
I had an amazing and very empowering experience a couple of weeks ago. I experienced something that I hadn’t done in my life, until now. I sang while driving in my car, with my mum next to me, without any inhibitions. I felt free to sing.
It was so amazing for me to feel this freedom in singing as I had basically lived my life since childhood avoiding any singing, especially in front of people, at school and in groups. The sad thing was – I love to sing.
Growing up, from a young age I was told by those that I held dear to me that I had a terrible voice. I very quickly identified myself as a bad singer, which greatly suppressed my expression. I was being judged from what they thought a good singer consisted of and because I held them dear I thought that what they said must be true. I was told that I couldn’t sing and I felt my voice become harder as I grew up. I felt that I sang in a hard way (maybe to fit into the label that had been placed on me) and even the way I spoke took on a harsh nature. I was told that I had a terrible voice like my dad and that my mum and brother had good voices. The fact is that my voice and my Dad’s voice were just different; lower and deeper, but not bad.
Recently I participated in a group workshop with Victoria Carter. I felt very safe and supported by all the people at the workshop because I could feel that it was a place to be honest, open and where I would not be judged. It was also very playful and I felt held in love. At this workshop we felt our bodies and our voices. We compared how these changed when we were present with ourselves versus when we weren’t. Basically we felt how our choice to connect with ourselves magnified throughout our body, which then became our expression, when we spoke and sang. After a little bit of sharing, some observations, a few ‘ooo’s and aaahh’s’, we then worked as a group, making sound. Now the amazing thing is, it wasn’t about the sound or achieving a note or being the loudest or most perfect – it was about our connection and how the sound felt. I felt free to sing… and it felt GOLDEN!
I discovered that when I am connected to myself, without letting the beliefs and ideals of ‘how singing should be’, my voice is then free and sweet and strong. When I was younger, part of me played the game of being identified as the one who couldn’t sing. I was told to be quiet and even that I would get paid if I stopped singing. Soon I learned to use this as a manipulation tool where I would say “If you don’t do that, or give me that, I will sing”. So sad, and horrible….. I know. I could even say that I further hardened my voice as I grew up to make sure I fitted this label.
But with my experiences with Chris James’ Sounds Wonderful workshops and Victoria Carter‘s True Expression Workshops, over the years I have learned to slowly let go of theses filters, beliefs and ideals. For me, trust and feeling safe was a big thing. Their gentle and loving approach really supported me to claim my voice as an amazing tool of expression: a tool that expresses from what is already lived in the body. Singing for me now has a playful memory attached to it.
So as you can see, for me to freely sing in the car next to my mum was huge, and the beautiful thing was that because I didn’t allow all the other stuff to be there – it wasn’t even in my thoughts, then there was no room for it – my mum and my daughter (who loves my voice and we love singing together) both sang with me.