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