Recently I attended a True Voice Workshop in Wanaka, New Zealand, with Chris James. What I experienced there was the true joy of singing and expressing from my heart.
When I felt I was singing with joy, I absolutely knew that it didn’t matter how the sound came out… if it was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’… if it was too high or too low… I did not even consider what anyone would think of my singing. In fact, I didn’t think at all.
I just felt the absolute joy of being with me and with the music, and feeling the support of everyone there. It wasn’t an emotion I was feeling as I sang – it was simply the feeling of joy and the deep connection with everyone else, the music, and the words we were singing.
There was no emotion in the song to pull me away from myself; rather, it connected me with my real self, with my inner heart, so when I sang I felt it was coming from deep within me and that it was part of me.
I had a heightened sense of my body, the glow and stillness within me, and the bubbling joy – it is almost impossible to express the grandness and glory of it all.
This was such a contrast to previous experiences. I have always loved singing and when I was a child I sang in both the church choir and school choir: I always sang ‘alto’ (low), whereas Chris has encouraged me to sing high and to take risks and not hold back!
I liked singing in the choirs but I never felt such a deep connection with myself or with the others in the choir as I felt in this True Voice Workshop with Chris. Also, there was an expectation from my parents that I would sing in the choirs, or at least I thought there was, and I remember wanting everyone to acknowledge how well I sang.
A few years back I was in a musical, which was something I have always wanted to do. It wasn’t one particular musical – rather, there were many different songs from the musicals that the theatre had put on over the years. The musical director said this was very hard to do as you were constantly changing characters.
Be that as it may, right from the first rehearsal I found I couldn’t sing. My throat would just close up after the first song and I would cough and cough. I was totally perplexed – I didn’t understand what was happening to me, especially as at the audition the musical director was very encouraging and I sang higher than ever before.
I persevered though and eventually made it to the stage on opening night, but the whole experience was not particularly enjoyable! I felt I had to force my voice, to ‘perform’ and I didn’t enjoy not being myself. I was anxious before each part I was in. I remember wanting everyone (friends and family who came along to the show) to acknowledge how well I had done.
I felt this force of performance and anxiety from many of the others in the cast too, as well as comparison and competition and the need for approval and recognition. There was a lack of true camaraderie and connection between us, and I could feel this in my body.
At Chris James’ workshop we all sang together in amazing harmony and unity. It felt like we had sung together like that many times – even though I hadn’t met some of the people there before!
The music we sang was different too from most other music I have heard and sung. This was music composed, performed and produced from the heart. Yes, I cried quite a lot, but the tears were from me releasing my own sadness – they were not emotions I had picked up from the songs. The tears were me feeling the joy of singing from my heart.
This felt so different from other times when I have been affected by music which I have heard or songs I have sung that made me sad or ‘revved up’– and this is perhaps why I couldn’t even sing the songs in the musical (I was choking, literally, on the emotions in them).
It wasn’t simply the joy of singing together at Chris’ workshop – it was the joy of true expression.
We did exercises in groups where one person talked and the others simply listened. I felt like I was really being heard when it was my turn to speak, as no-one interrupted me and no-one ‘wandered off’ while I was speaking – we all connected with each other, through our eyes, the whole time.
This is not often my experience of sharing with others! Also, it felt wonderful to simply listen to another talking without thinking I had to butt in to be nice or to confirm, rescue, sympathise or even empathise, which is how I have often listened in the past. From this connection with the others, I felt safe to speak from my heart rather than my head – in other words, to truly share with others what I was feeling and what I knew to be true.
This is not a common experience for me as I have, in the past, often lived from my mind. The whole time I was talking I felt really aware of my body, and connected to it, whereas when I was in the musical it didn’t feel like ‘me’ at all – my head was full of trying to remember the words and to sing ‘well’.
And so, from this life-changing workshop in Wanaka, I am allowing myself to feel a lot more, to be vulnerable and to connect with my body a lot more and express from there… and I intend to sing a lot more too, from my heart, with joy.
This is pure joy.
I am continually inspired by Chris James – by the man, and by his amazing Music.
By Anne Scott, accredited Yoga Teacher, Exercise Instructor, Mediator and Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Auckland, New Zealand