Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Plague Of Perfectionism: Singing Without Fear

Why do we do what we do? What would posses us to open our mouths in public without knowing exactly whats going to come out. A guitarist has practiced his licks and can pretty well predict that the music will happen. We only have our own bodies to make sound with, a sore throat, or too much cheese at lunch can stop the notes from happening: it's no wonder singers can feel so fragile, vulnerable and full of such human fear. 
                Diva warning! Diva warning!
So we find ourselves worrying and anxious a lot of the time, creating a position and attitude of fear around our performing that doesn't serve us well. That vulnerable feeling has us reaching for safety much of the time, just so we can feel secure that we can do the job well.  Reaching for safety can mean making some smart choices like singing the songs we know well, singing in the keys that are comfortable. 

           Are You Limiting The Possibilities?
Sure, go for safety if it makes you feel more confident. Be well rehearsed. Have the songs well memorized.  
That is all reasonable and makes practical sense.
However a lot of us go further than seeking security. 
In our search for safety we seek to control the sound coming out of our mouths so there are no surprises.. in short we become perfectionists about our sound. That creates physical tension as we seek to control our voices..and more vulnerability as we listen and judge our performance and find that we are not living up to our own expectations!
This is the awful endless trap that many singers find themselves in where the act of singing becomes an exhausting self defeating exercise in judgement, expectations and failure.

                 Communication Is The Goal
 Perfection is a weird goal for a musician given that our real job is to express music, which is supposed to be a creative act! The quest for perfection is not an open space that allows the music to speak through us. Perfection is something we humans never get to no matter how hard we strive. AND we limit the possibilities of our expansion and discovery when thats our goal, blocking the relationship we are seeking to build!
                 Stop Listening To Yourself!
When we listen to ourselves, when we try to shape the notes so they sound exactly like we want them to, we end up focused on ourselves. When we are listening to ourselves, busy correcting ourselves, we often end up feeling inadequate and out of control, and we can no longer feel the music or sit inside the emotional life of the song or feel any kind of connection with our audience. 
Of course not, we are hard at work inside a locked system that won't allow us any breathing room to make mistakes, i.e. be "alive to the music".

                    Let The Music Speak!
Letting go of trying to be perfect is a challenge to the insecure singer. BUT unless we get out of the way and learn to allow the music to speak through us we're not actually doing the job right. We want that freedom to let go of "results oriented" singing and some of us will work towards it all of our careers..

The biggest challenge of all is to drop our desire for perfection. It doesn't serve us and it doesn't serve the music!

Micah Barnes founded The Singers Playground in 1996 in order to support the next generation of artists through workshops, seminars and one on one coaching and is truly delighted to get to work with so many talented artists in both Canada and The United States.

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