Wednesday 18 March 2015

How I Overcame Stage Fright

As a trainer it's important for me to feel first hand what my students go through so I can use my magical problem solving skills and offer solutions to them. I wasn't quite prepared for stage fright though. I won't go into all the gorey details but I will comment on why it happens and what the antidote is. Usually there's a lot going of additional stress going on as well as the impending performance. For me I was in the middle of a degree and the competition was high. As a result I had put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and since I was about 20 years older than my peers at uni, I admittedly felt a little insecure about my original material being somewhat uncool. I was fixated on all kinds of pretend outcomes about what would happen if I didn't do XYZ. My stress levels and expectations were very high and I wasn't doing anything about it. For someone who has been on the wellness path for 25 years I was doing a fantastic job at ignoring my body's signals. Palpitations, panic attacks, night sweats, hypos, headaches, aches and stiffness, IBS and chronic fatigue. The doctor even put me on Beta Blockers. My body was screaming out for attention and I ignored it....until, that it, I had a massive panic attack on stage! Yeah, no one wants that. So I stopped performing and decided to sort this out once and for all. Just as the stress symptoms cropped up over about two years, so my healing had to be slow and steady. Slow because like anything worth having it takes a disciplined focus and patience to integrate. Slow is the antidote. I needed to get my mental health back and stop this incessant worrying which was having a knock on effect in every area of my life. Here's how I did it..... * I decided to focus 100% on recovery because without my health I couldn't enjoy life let alone singing and teaching. * I stopped doing gigs for about a year because I didn't want to continue to scare myself. * I slowly got rid of ALL stress including friends who zapped my energy, excessive work load and anything that would demand too much of my mental or physical energy this included projects with others that I wasn't being remunerated for sufficiently. I began to streamline my life, including hiring a cleaner even though I felt like I couldn't afford one (actually I couldn't afford NOT to have one). * I got rid of irritating substances including caffeine, sugar, wheat and dairy and started to take an interest in healthy cooking and super nutrition. * I downloaded the Headspace app on my iphone and did 60 consecutive days of meditation which helped to train my mind in the art of mindfulness. I also read Ruby Wax's book 'Sane New World' and implemented her techniques. * I stopped the gym as this was producing too much cortisol and instead I took up walking and a Korean form of Yoga which includes: emotional release, vibration training, energy accumulation, body tapping and stretching. * I began to value myself more and realised that this was a way of life not a quick fix cure. _And now...._ * I practice energy management every day. * I listen to my body and always give it what it needs, ignoring at my peril. * I do a pre gig and on stage ritual (nothing weird) to prepare me for performing with sanity!! Stage fright is not a thing in isolation that you can cure without addressing what else is going on in your life. It is the result of scattered, irrational thinking and lack of personal power which reeks havoc on your body's energy circulation. If you are a performer or wannabe performer no matter how amateur or professional, you cannot perform freely without your body's energy being in balance. Even though it was an unpleasant experience, I've collected a lot of information about it to pass on to my students.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Katie Rose's Singing Loves

Katie Rose was a singing student of mine back in around 2005. She has gone on to blossom as her own singing teacher closely connected to spiritual and personal growth. She emailed me this morning with her 38 Singing Loves. Here they are. Enjoy. For more information on Katie Rose visit 38 Singing Loves ♥ 1. Exaltation - singing makes the spirit soar ♥ 2. Breath - singing is literally inspiring - as patients from the Singing for Breathing programme testify ♥ 3. Listening - singing helps us listen to ourselves and each other ♥ 4. Transformation - singing changes our lives, one note at a time ♥ 5. Togetherness - singing bring us into unison and empathic connection with others ♥ 6. Bridge building - singing crosses all social, religious and cultural boundaries and helps us remember our common humanity ♥ 7. Peace promoting - singing is a powerful tool of peaceful communication ♥ 8. Creativity - singing stimulates our imagination and charges our enthusiasm ♥ 9. Self Expression - singing liberates our authentic expression ♥ 10. Presence - singing helps us become powerfully present in the moment ♥ 11. Mental Gym - singing improves our concentration, focus, alertness and memory ♥ 12. Emotional Balance - singing helps our feelings get in e-motion ♥ 13. Body Boost - singing helps us become more embodied, grounded ♥ 14. Joie de Vivre - singing boosts our vitality with a host of health benefits ♥ 15. Empowerment - singing helps us discover and express our power appropriately ♥ 16. Taking a Stand - singing enables us to raise our voices for change in our world ♥ 17. Courage - singing enables us to access our core strength ♥ 18. Possibility - singing helps us discover new territories ♥ 19. Learning - singing is an journey of self-development ♥ 20. Teaching - singing can help us educate one another ♥ 21. Dancing - singing gets our toes tapping and our hands clapping to irresistible rhythms ♥ 22. Laughter - singing gets us giggling ♥ 23. Bogey-buster - singing helps us bust fears, stresses and sticky issues ♥ 24. Multi-sensory - singing engages all our senses ♥ 25. Stories - singing can help us share important stories and oral traditions ♥ 26. Ancestral - singing can connect us with the wisdom of those that have gone before ♥ 27. Culture - singing connects us with our roots and helps us learn from other cultures ♥ 28. Social - singing is a core part of social occasions - from the Happy Birthday song to football chants ♥ 29. Originality - singing helps us connect with our uniqueness and inspires innovation ♥ 30. Heart opening - singing helps us to listen, follow and express the song in our heart ♥ 31. Trust - singing inspires more trust in ourselves and with each other ♥ 32. Interdisciplinary - singing connects with many other artforms ♥ 33. Intergenerational - singing can bring together elders, adults, young people, children and babies ♥ 34. Harmony - singing helps us listen and harmonise with each other ♥ 35. Catharsis - singing can helps us express, release, cleanse and let go ♥ 36. Performance - singing supports our presentation and performance skills ♥ 37. Charity - singing can be part of our social contribution ♥ 38. Infinity - singing connects us to the big cosmic symphony of which we are all a unique note

Monday 10 May 2010

Even though.....

Even though I may have been told to be quiet in the past, I now understand that it is ok to find and express the true power of my voice.

Even though I may not be a super star, and despite what other people may have said, I am learning to love the sound I make.

Even though I may have been negative about my voice, I am working on developing a healthy relationship with it right now.

Even though my voice may not work as I want it to all of the time, I know that this is not always important, sometimes there is beauty in imperfection, and even so, my vocal development will always be incomplete. There is always more to experience, greater heights and deeper depths of expression, range, clarity and dexterity.

Just because it is easier for me to sing in one particular style, it doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy singing in other styles.

I was born with an inherent ability to make strong sounds. Even though society may have conditioned them out of me, I am now finding them again. It is a joy. I am on a journey and will be for the rest of my life and beyond.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Being an authentic teacher

I'm very excited to announce that I'm changing. Ten years ago I was inspired by a voice teacher at the top of her game who's methods I adapted and adopted in my own teaching.... trouble is I realised I wasn't being authentic as I was tired after every lesson covered in struggle and riddled with mental tension. The lessons I most enjoyed were the ones where I was totally engaged energetically and emotionally with my client. I would finish the lesson feeling light, open and awake. This has become more and more aparent over the years to the point where now I can't lie to myself anymore. The last week or so of my life has been full of aggresivity, wars of words and power struggles with folk who will remain nameless and being a person who does self inquiry I've asked myself why this has come all at once. The arising situations have highlighted where I havn't acknowledged my own agressivity and for that I am grateful. In two weeks time I'll be going to france to become a Core Singing Instructor. It was my intention to be rid of anything inauthentic so that I could start afresh and come back with a clearer sense of myself so that I could help others engage more fully with who they really are through the art of singing. A truly nice place to be.

Getting through your day

It’s 6am and I’ve just woken up…I say to myself, ”right then SG, you have this, this, this and THIS to do today, so if you’re going to become a successful songwriter, better get out of bed!!” But Ugh! where oh where am I gonna to get the energy to do all this? I’m totally overwhelmed, as burnt out as a smoked fag and, as a consequence, de-motivated. “I know” I say, “I’m just gonna have to force myself! By 9pm I will be so exhausted that I’ll have no energy for hobbies, my partner or my friends.”

I got used to forcing myself when I would follow the instructions of a well known master life coach. I managed my state of mind by reciting those positive incantations which were supposed to get me going but *UGH* (effort noise), they seem to just make me feel worse because the reality was totally different. All the forcing seemed to just fire off my adrenal glands which only gave me the illusion that I had all the energy in the world to move mountains. But deep down inside there was this feeling of captivity, frustration and resentment since all I really just wanted to do was rest or at least feel differently about doing these tasks before me.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like this? Of course you do! You’re human! If we don’t learn to chill out this could be our fate as we try to juggle many many things. As you face each day it may seem like a mountain to climb and although we are meant to be the enlightened ones (fellow healer/artist/musician/writer/independent entrepreneur), it’s very easy to become caught up in 3rd dimensional drudgery. I don’t know about you but I want to float through my day approaching each task with delight, managing each task with ease and relaxed muscles. To me “State Management” feels like a very masculine approach to the day and has made me quite sick in the past as I’ve ignored my body’s needs. As we evolve into this new feminine energy, I honestly don’t think that this ‘action only’ approach can sustain itself. More and more we are being forced to be un-enforced, to take extremely good care of ourselves and to listen to our bodies… no, I mean REALLY listen. Getting caught up in ‘clock time’ & scheduling, to me, seems as inefficient as staying in bed all day.

It’s 6am. My body is dormant but my brain has become conscious, my eyes remain closed. I think to myself, “oh God, it’s morning again. How will I cope today?” While I’m laying there, I breathe deeply to try and stop the panic and say to myself, “it’s ok SG, no decisions need to be made yet!” So I get up and have my morning pee with the lethargy of a tortoise and then I realize that tortoises live longer than humans. “I wonder why?” I think, “Maybe it’s because they are slow?!” After I’ve washed and breakfasted, I decide that instead of going to my computer, I will sit and meditate for 10 minutes. As I do, I eventually settle into stillness. After about 5 minutes this gentle wash overtakes me and I have this urge to circle my body and to move my neck and shoulders, to dance to the silence with the rhythm of my heart keeping time. I realized what just happened. As I embraced stillness for just a moment my body and heart were able to join and open. In doing so they became dynamic and moved to the dance of their own internal song. Suddenly an idea was born. Suddenly from nothing, there was something, so pure and right. Suddenly natural joy and enthusiasm enfolded me and I realized that this was the real energy I’d been looking for. As we rampage through our day, we miss the softly spoken caresses of our moment to moment urges…. We simply cannot hear them.

I notice that it takes real courage to be still and simply allow urges to come up and to somewhat ignore the vast lists of things to do that take over our minds. It’s contrary to what society tells us to do. That’s not to say that we should ignore our projects totally, but gently waiting until we hear the inner voice that says ‘yes’ before doing tasks, often means that they will go more smoothly. It takes faith to allow the seeds to propagate without trying to drag the seedling up out of the earth with our bear hands. But this is how Mother Nature and Great Spirit do it. ALL IN GOOD TIME. Every action we take that is not done with joy in our hearts is pretty much null and void. As we move closer to the new age we will find that the ‘grin and bear it’ approach bears less and less fruit. Learning to stay with joy, for the most part, and taking a little inspired action each day will produce miraculous results based on synchronicity. This is the law off attraction. It can’t not work! So is our daily priority then, to do things that cultivate feelings of joy and freedom within ourselves? Choose your tasks wisely friend.

These feelings of joy are surely more than states of mind. These are organic and totally natural ways of being. Doesn’t it feel good when you feel good? When we float through our day with contentment in our hearts, everything flows, everything works, projects are effortless, connections are seamless and there is no struggle. You decide at the appropriate moment what your next task will be and when you are in joy, there can be no wrong choices, as decisions are made as if God where making them (and of course, they are!). Moving through our day is a delicate dance of stopping, listening and acting, acting, stopping and listening. Make it so. Enjoy your day. 

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Singing for Health

How many of you, lovely wonderful folk reading this article, think that singing makes you feel better? Hmm? How many of you open your mouths, let some kind of noise out, and then chastise yourself for not sounding good enough? I suspect many of you are closet singers and many of you would like to sing better. Some of you may even like to have a go at writing your own songs or at least putting a melody to some poetry you’ve created? I’d like to tell you why singing is good for you and why everybody should have a go at it, no matter what they sound like. So who am I to tell you this? Well, I can’t imagine life without singing. I’ve always sung since I was a dot. My earliest influence was the Salvation Army and so early on, I knew if I sang it loud enough, Jesus would want me for a sunbeam! Music, singing & songwriting have always fascinated me. So much so, that I’ve two albums under my belt, a downloadable ‘learn how to sing’ course, a batch of private singing students and am now facilitating group vocal workshops to bring people together just for the pure pleasure factor (The P Factor). Well I must have been born with the talent? Right? Hmm, not really. I was born with the intrigue and enthusiasm to find out why I liked singing so much (not that I was always the best at it), and to help other people.

Everyone can gain from the benefits of singing, whether they think they can sing or not. Just open your mouth and let it out, there should be no judgment about it. Trouble is, we’re all comparing ourselves to Shane Ward and Leona Lewis… Guys? They’re one in a million and if they were here now, they would be encouraging you to sing!

Here’s why I think you would benefit from singing more. Some of the physical benefits include: Singing increases the amount of oxygen you take into the body. This, in turn, produces a feeling of alertness as more oxygen flows to the brain. As you sing, you articulate and use facial expressions more, so you get improved muscle tone in the face, throat neck and jaw thereby promoting a youthful appearance. The improved muscle tone in the intricate areas of the larynx, also help to calm snoring. It also improves the muscle tone of your rib cage, back and abdominals, as you learn to hold the breath back. Singing stimulates the thyroid gland thereby helping to balance metabolism. It also helps you to want to improve your health by enhancing your awareness of your body. But the physical benefit I love the most is that singing gives you a molecular massage! It shakes, vibrates and resonates with your very core, thereby promoting healing at a sub-atomic level (cool!). Need more reasons to sing? Well apart from the fact that singing makes you feel good, learning to sing has great mental benefits too. For example, learning to sing songs from beginning to end, improves your reading skills and your motor skills by developing the co-ordination between your brain and your body. It helps to calm negative mental chatter. It improves your ability to listen, thereby opening up the intricate and complex aural world (you’ll never be able to listen to music in the same way again!). Learning to sing develops your ability to multi-task. For example, singing a song successfully requires that you: sing the correct word at the correct pitch at the correct time, with the right level of volume and with the most appropriate voice quality. This means making sure your posture is correct for the type of sound that you are making whilst ensuring that, ladies, your skirt isn’t tucked in your knickers (if you are, of course, on stage!) But my favorite mental benefit is the fact that learning to sing a varied repertoire expands your mind into the world of poetry, poetic devices and the English Language. Some of the beautiful lyrics that you will be singing will help to expand your imagination.

But you’re still pressing me for more reasons to sing, because I know that some of you think that your singing would simply offend people! Well what if I told you that the reasons you can’t/won’t sing is that you’re heart is blocked? Too bold a statement? Let me tell you, singing can open the stoniest of hearts! Learning to sing releases old emotional blockages that should have been got rid off years ago! It can make your cry; it can ignite your passion and it can make you laugh. Not only that, but if you want more of the stuff that makes you feel good (naturally), singing releases natural opiates called endorphins. Singing can help with all forms of grieving and can help you to accept certain emotions, sink into them and know that by surrendering to them, you can free yourself. It really is a pain killer. Singing can also give you respite from negative mental chatter. It is a form of meditation where your focus is off observing what is around you, and on indulging yourself in this sonorous task. It is a way of bypassing your ego to acknowledge your soul. The act of learning to sing helps you to build confidence in yourself, as you get better at it week by week, you gently ease yourself outside your comfort zone, achieving things that would usually be inhibited. This is a good thing! Singing creates positive energy and a happy mood. Since ‘like attracts like’, this good feeling sends a signal out into the Universe. Source Energy then re-arranges itself to line up circumstances and opportunities to give you more of the good stuff. So all in all, singing is good vibrational medicine! For more information on learning to sing, singing lessons or workshops, email or visit