Hiding My Natural Voice

I remember as I child I used to sing all the time, making up little tunes and adding words to go with them. I remember adults commenting to my mother about what a happy child I was. I also look back at how that love of natural expression became crushed when trying out for the school choir around the age of 8, when I was told my voice was too deep to sing with the other girls and I would have to stand at the back and sing the second part with the boys. Whilst this may not sound bad, the way it was delivered was so harsh and judgemental that it made me feel crushed, and my natural exuberance for singing became something that I started to withhold and keep in check.

About age eleven I auditioned for the school musical at high school and didn’t even get called back to be a part of the chorus, and that for me was the end of any attempts to be part of a group singing activity. It got to the point where during school assembly I would mouth the words to the hymns but never actually sing them as I didn’t want to be singled out for being off key or out of tune.

I still loved to sing but only when others couldn’t hear me. As a teenager I would have my music blasting, singing along in the privacy and safety of my own room, knowing that the music was so loud no one would ever hear my dulcet tones. As I got older I would do this in the car or at home when I was in the house alone.

I started playing guitar in my 20’s and even started taking music grades; this way I could indulge in my love of music without having to sing. But imagine my horror when during my first music grade the examiner asked me to listen to a note and sing it back to her. Well I simply refused point blank to do it and even got aggressive over it. It cost me 20 marks but there was no way I was going to ‘sing,’ especially not in front of a complete stranger!

More recently, because I have attended events run by Universal Medicine, I have been learning about and exploring expression through voice and music.

I have also watched Chris James sing and work with an audience to encourage them to let go of what stands in the way of them exploring their natural voice: a voice that comes from connecting to yourself and feeling the sound develop, and expressing from your body rather than attaching to how it sounds.

During a Universal Medicine Retreat, Chris James was invited to take the stage and lead the participants in some singing exercises. Tentatively and very quietly at first I found myself joining in with a simple ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’, without pushing or trying. I found my voice was deep and resonant, with a richness that had never come through when singing along to music in my room or my car. It had a delicate quality combined with a power and strength that was so exquisite it moved me to tears – tears of joy and relief for all that I had held back – being allowed to express again as I did so naturally when I was a little girl.

And now I love to sing; I join group sings and don’t hold back when Chris James invites us to sing along or when Michael Benhayon and Miranda Benhayon of Glorious Music perform. I even joined a women’s singing group for a few months where we would sing acapella (without musical accompaniment) and we even gave a performance to around 100 people at a local event – something I would never have imagined or even been capable of a few years ago.

Now I find myself singing when I walk the dog, on my way to work, and even around the office and the supermarket, no different to when I was that young girl, all full of joy and expression that I simply had to let it out.

I have been inspired to sing again through the work of Chris James and Glorious Music and now see my deep, rich, natural voice as something to celebrate and not to hide. And whilst I may not have perfect pitch, I do have a quality when I sing that brings a joy to my heart and puts a smile on my face.

By Dr Rachel Hall Dentist Kenmore Brisbane

Further Reading:
Everyone Is Born With A Beautiful Voice – Singing And Speaking
Exploring, and Singing with, my True Voice
The Joy of Music Without the Pain

655 thoughts on “Hiding My Natural Voice

  1. I love the work that Chris James’ does – supporting people to reconnect with their natural voice and expression and helping us to be more aware of our body and the way in which we are expressing. It’s beautiful how you can now appreciate the quality of your natural voice and not hold it back!

  2. My mother loves singing and I can remember when I went up to high school and applied to join the school choir.The music teachers went around us as we sang and picked out those children that fitted what they were looking for. I too clearly felt (but not expressed it until now) that my voice was not high enough as it suited me to sing lower. I was not chosen and I felt very disappointed not only for myself but also for my mum too. I felt disappointment because there was a trying in my singing and a picture I was holding to sing in the choir which I had not fulfilled. I realise I wanted recognition and self identification especially from my mother and thought singing would be a good way to get it!

  3. Our voice is heard whether we speak or not! You just have to look at silent movies to see this. Our body has a voice that is so expressive and when we prevent this expression we are doing a great deal of harm to the body.

    1. Just as our voice is heard whether we speak or not, our expression is felt, whether we express or hide – hiding and not expressing is still an expression!

  4. Years ago when I was small you would hear people singing in the street or whistling as they go about their day, and we used to associate it with people feeling good about things or content with their lot, but this very rarely happens these days, and in fact it would really stand out now. Is this telling us that people do not feel joy-full in their day to day?

  5. There is something that feels amazing about expressing ourselves through singing. Yet while we’re prepared to sing out loud to ourselves, the thought of singing in front of others often brings up a lot of uncomfortable feelings and vulnerability – or we go into ‘performing’ and needing to get it right. What I loved about the whole experience of a recent singing lesson was experimenting with the difference of singing from my body and not from my head, and understanding that my voice didn’t need to sound polished or loud – that its natural delicacy was okay – and actually quite beautiful.

  6. I loved feeling your acceptance of your voice Rachel as something to be enjoyed and celebrated. When we accept ourselves just as we are right now, life is so much more fun and open. Any kind of trying to be something other than all that we already are is just a distraction that takes us further away from ourselves and our purpose.

  7. I know of quite a few people with a similar story such as yours Rachel, they have been too afraid to sing because of being shutdown when they were younger. Chris James’s workshops are a beautiful support that re-connects you to your true and natural singing voice and it is awesome to feel how freeing and joyful it is to express in this way.

  8. How freeing it is to learn that we are all born with amazing voices and that we need not fit in with another’s picture of how we should sing, what we should sing, how it need sound, what pitch, volume or rhythm preferred…for in us each expressing our inner-most essence, our voice will be true.

  9. “I have been inspired to sing again through the work of Chris James and Glorious Music and now see my deep, rich, natural voice as something to celebrate and not to hide”.
    How gorgeous Rachel, very inspiring that you have found your true voice and you appreciate all that that brings.

  10. Beautiful Rachel, it is gorgeous to read that you are singing again like you did when you were a little girl. I notice with young children how they love to sing to themselves, it feels very joyful and innocent. I went to singing lessons and remember the teacher telling my mum I was tone death and so there was no point in me singing and so that stopped me singing until recently, I was also inspired by Chris James to sing again and it feels gorgeous not being critical of how my voice sounds and instead enjoying singing in my own unique way.

  11. Chris James is an inspiring teacher, supporting everyone to find their natural voice again. Great to read how much you now love singing even with others around.

  12. Rachel, this is really lovely, “now see my deep, rich, natural voice as something to celebrate and not to hide.” Reading this I can feel how we all have a unique voice and that this a thing to be celebrated. It seems that in society we have labeled voices as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘out of tune’ etc; these labels are harmful and make us compare our voices to other peoples and often we think we have a ‘bad voice’. I was told I was tone deaf, but having attended workshops by Chris James I can feel that my voice is beautiful too and so I am starting to enjoy singing again and noticing that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with my voice.

  13. I always held the belief that I couldn’t sing and that only people who could sing well should sing. I did one workshop with Chris James and discovered what it felt like to sing and let my voice out. It was wonderful. And whilst I’m still hesitant who I sing in front of, I definitely sing more that I used to and love how it feels.

  14. I love that you have not made peoples reactions bigger than the joy you bring. By choosing to sing once more and claim back your voice, you are sending out a message that says it is OK to listen to ourselves. That is very powerful in todays society where so many of us let outside circumstances dictate our actions.

    1. Well expressed – ‘not making people’s reactions bigger than the joy that you bring’ – and I’d include my own reactions in that, too. Great reminder to keep life simple, focused on the what is, and not all the other stuff we can sometimes get caught in.

  15. I loved singing as a child and, like you, Rachel, would sing at every opportunity. At school I was in the choir and, as it was a Catholic school, there was an opportunity to sing every week in church. As an adult I was around music a lot but lost confidence in my ability to hold a tune without the support of a choir. I loved harmonies and would sing along with recorded songs but it was only when I started attending Chris James workshops that I discovered how beautiful my singing voice really is and that I CAN sing in tune. My speaking voice is also beautiful when I am tender, and that is something I am working on developing too.

  16. Awesome Rachel. Even just one moment of feeling looked-down on or rejected can lead to years of contraction and holding back how we would otherwise freely express, so how important is it for us to read/look at the reason of why these things happen and then not react to them, because otherwise both we and everyone else misses out on your natural voice in this case, or other areas of expression.

  17. There is nothing more lovely than opening up your body and singing along to a Glorious Music tune – it sparks in me an aliveness, I don’t sing often in front of others but am finding for myself that it is okay to do that and not worry what others think about that.

  18. This is beautiful to read Rachel and something that I too have experienced through the work of Chris James. I always loved singing as a child and a young adult, but would never dare to stand in front of people and sing on my own. Hiding in a choir was ok as no one could specifially hear my voice. In fact I put off going to a Chris James workshop because of an absolute dread of having to sing in front of other people. But always having had a fear of truly expressing myself, even when speaking, I decided eventtually one day to go, and I have never looked back. I discovered a voice in me that I never knew was there, that has a power, delicacy and sweetness all rolled into one and which I now love to share with others. I bless that day that I went to my first workshop with Chris James.

    1. And how extraordinary what you are doing with your voice now Sandra, with such a commitment to bring that pure joy into so many institutions… sounds wonderful! 🙂

      1. Yes cjames. When we sing from a true connection to who we are everyone feels it, both young and old, and it has the power to ignite something inside people that they know is already there but that they so often choose to ignore. It’s very beautiful to witness someone reconnecting with themselves in this way.

  19. Rachel… perfect pitch is a ‘furphy’ … I don’t have perfect pitch … it is quite rare … to be able to sing a concert pitch without a reference note… now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about you being the first singing dentist …☺ … and you can say … ” now really open your mouths”

  20. This blog shows me how important it is to deliver words with an energy that supports a person’s natural expression rather than crushing it. If we celebrated variation and differences in school, it would be natural to say “Wow, how great it is to have a girl who can sing the deep notes”. Instead we want to box everyone up and exclude anyone who doesn’t fit. This is where we gradually give up on our uniqueness and try to be what others want us to be. This is a loss for society as a whole as we lose the richness of our different expressions.

  21. The cumulative effect of so many of us holding back our singing voices is huge. A singing teacher told me to mime at the age of 11 and until I attended a Chris James workshop over 40 years later I had never sung in front of other people. It is such a natural way of joyfully expressing ourselves and this lack of expression is everyone’s loss.

  22. I am struck by the crushing effects of auditioning for a choir etc and the long-term implications this obviously has for so many people. Singing together can be such a joyful experience but not when any element of competition is introduced.

    1. Helen it is so true… did you know that if a group sings together for long enough their hearts literally start to beat together… surely this alone is enough to prove the interconnectedness of all things, and to deepen our understanding that this really is ‘one life’.

  23. The joy of singing in the unselfconscious way I did when I was a child has returned for me too after working with Chris James to let go of all the hibbits (habits) and beliefs I’d taken on in my many years of singing in bands for recognition and acceptance. The unrestrained joy I feel now when I sing is beyond this world.

  24. The damage that can be caused by criticising another for the way they sound when they sing, or even when they speak, can potentially be irrevocable. But with the support of the amazing work of Chris James, it is possible to change the way we feel about our voices and to let go of the fear and dread we may have around expressing ourselves, in whatever form that may take. And it is absolutley possible to discover that there is an absolute joy in singing or speaking when there are no obstacles in the way, that could otherwise prevent our own unique and true expression.

    1. Yes it’s so true Sandra… if we actually understood, felt and knew the effect we can have on others with our judgements and comments we would perhaps be so much more care-full and supportive of each other

  25. I found the same thing with school plays and productions – I auditioned a few times, and ended up as one of the barn animals from the manger as opposed to any kind of recognisable role… When it came to sing my part I hung back from the mic and allowed the other girls to sing, and considering it was years and years ago it’s amazing I can remember it in so much detail! We really do hold on to these things…

    1. Now THAT is a great image Susie… ending up as a barn animal… and thats where most people feel they have ended up with their voices and with their expression… but the truth is … we are ALL born with a beautiful voice…. now where have I heard that? 🙂

  26. I feel like I am breaking away from hiding my voice and I loved reading how you now sing openly during your day, without hesitation to whoever may be in ear range. It really highlights how we can hold onto one or a handful of moments that are then further used to keep us from expressing our truth.

  27. Rachel, it just goes to show how one experience of condemning you in a condescendingly way to sing up the back with the boys completely decimated your potential to just enjoy singing and being yourself for years to come. This is making me wonder how many other people in this world have had one incident in life like that that has completely obliterated their confidence and has totally capped them living their potential from every angle of their life.

  28. “….and now see my deep, rich, natural voice as something to celebrate and not to hide.” Glorious. – and as you go on to remark, we not need to have perfect pitch to share the joy in our voice. I was very shut down when young and have a natural quietly spoken voice, but can now project if I need to. Chris James’ workshops are so empowering for both speaking and singing.

  29. The slogan… “everyone is born with a beautiful voice” could not be more true but it makes me wonder where the idea that we don’t have a beautiful voice came from in the first place. I can’t remember a time exactly where I was told I didn’t have a beautiful voice but the thought nevertheless has been there during adulthood and it has been clouded by my lack of appreciation for the voice I do have and the comparison with others for having a better voice. Total lie!

  30. “a voice that comes from connecting to yourself and feeling the sound develop, and expressing from your body rather than attaching to how it sounds.” This is a beautiful description. I have not thought of it this way before.

  31. Our voices, whether we are speaking or singing say so much about us. When we allow ourselves to open up and connect more deeply with ourselves a different kind of sound comes out.

  32. How important it is to let children express themselves, so that we do not have a world full of adults who not only struggle to express themselves, but also find it necessary to inhibit the expression of others.

  33. I have found how expressing myself in full when I am singing has really supported me to express myself more fully when I am speaking. From being someone who would not open her mouth to speak in front of other people, let alone sing, I have gained so much confidence from working with my expression by attending courses with Chris James that I would not have imagined possible before. This beautiful freedom of expression brings with it such a liberation and joy, that I cannot recommend it enough, for anyone of any age!

  34. Thank you Rachel for sharing that “I do have a quality when I sing that brings a joy to my heart and puts a smile on my face.” I love this line, it puts a smile on my face too, I was told from when I was young I couldn’t sing and this made me self conscious about my voice even though I loved to sing on my own, when I joined a choir it was all about getting it right, with judgment coming as I separated from my body. I have felt how my voice can sing without any judgment and going up into my head, and it feels beautiful being in tune with my whole body.

  35. What your experience highlights Rachel is how confidence is naturally found when we are in our body. When we are taught to think and act from our heads we lose confidence because we go out of our body and hence are not feeling our natural steadyness with our innate feelings and truth.

  36. It is interesting how much we hold back when we are afraid of what people think of our voice when we sing. I imagine a lot more people would be singing in public, like in the supermarkets, on the streets or when they are out and about if we as a society are not so stuck on achieving a perfect pitch voice when it comes to singing.

  37. Thank you Rachel – you make us realize that hiding our voice, not only with singing, does has an effect on us. And that when we express with our voice we actually open up pathway for someone else to express too.
    This shows us the absolute radiance we have when we express from who we are with our natural voice. And can you imagine – it is whenever you open up your mouth to speak. All is felt by your voice. Being that who you are or that which you have put between or over it to hide that. The naturalness of who we are, even if we have hidden it, never in fact changes as it always remains the absolute beauty it is in expression.

  38. Hiding what is natural in us and for us is huge and is deeply hurting us. We learn a way without it. We master it. Yet, it is never US until we realize what we have said yes to, feel that such character is not truly US, claim back what is truly natural in and for us and incorporate this into our daily movements.

  39. It is gorgeous to read this again and feel the liberation that comes when we free ourselves to simply express who we are and what we feel be it through singing, speaking or our movements. Expression is never about perfection and as you pointed out when were younger we just expressed. We sang out, spoke up and moved when we felt to, we were never concerned about perfection when doing so, and clearly the illusion of being perfect or measuring up to be considered accepted was introduced to us at some point as was comparison and competition. The beautiful thing is that, that way of being in still with us, it is who we are, as we in essence have not changed it is only our connection to ourselves that have.

  40. I know when I sing without any holding back in anyway I feel such power and grace throughout my whole body, it is deeply healing when we can express in this true way.

  41. This is beautiful Rachel! Within us all is a rich store of treasure and joy, and wisdom and know-how, and learning to give ourselves permission to release it is truly wonderful, as a child does when they have no caps on themselves and they allow themselves to express, so too can we re-connect back to that rich flowing expression when we are adults.

  42. Not only do we hide our natural voice when we sing we also do it when we speak. I have become more aware of when my voice doesn’t sound like me and this is always when I have disconnected from myself.

  43. There was a time when I was little that I used to sing practically everything instead of talking … it used to drive my family nuts!!! It is great to hear that you have not only found your voice again but are allowing it to flourish in singing groups, while walking the dog in the supermarket and around the office. No longer is your expression capped 💕

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