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Claiming the Truthful Voice

Claiming the Truthful Voice
Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.― William Faulkner
In a world full of fake news, here's some thoughts on how singing and voicework can help us stay tuned to an empowering sense of truth.
 
Being OK with the vulnerability of truth
Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it's understanding the necessity of both, it's engaging. It's being all in - Brene Brown
Public Speaking rates as the #1 fear for most people - even topping death. It triggers multiple fears of failing or being rejected, judged, excluded, persecuted or even killed.  This is because many of us were conditioned in societies whose dominant norms do not encourage us to be creative or be who we truly are.  We may have grown up in environments that were hostile towards our gender, race, creed, orientation or politics.
So the act of sharing our truth can involve significant risk, uncertainty, courage, emotional exposure and vulnerability. To ask someone to get married, go on a date, give us a raise, respect our boundaries ... it all takes courage and the response is uncertain.  So does singing - there is an unavoidable risk in the act of opening our mouths and sharing the sounds of this most personal musical instrument that lives inside us.  For many of us, this can be additionally charged with the memories of past experiences where we were made to feel voices were not good enough.
The good news is that vulnerability is eased by facing, owning and working with it rather than against it.  By honouring the fact that we are taking a risk, we can build in support, strength and resilience.  This is why we warm up before singing - there are a huge amount of helpful breathing, vocal and physical exercises we can use to help ourselves feel relaxed, comfortable, grounded, open and ready to sing.  After years of standing up in front of groups, I now implicitly trust that a few minutes of silly warm ups will have a whole roomful of people smiling, laughing and feeling much less scared about sharing their voices together.

Dissolving lies with the truth
Love truth even if it hurts you, hate lies even if they help you - African Proverb
Mistruths can be very seductive - they tell us that to follow our dreams is unsafe, that it's better not to have that awkward conversation, make that exposing request, write that book or sing that song.  'Don't put yourself on the line' whispers doubt and fear conspiratorially, 'we'll keep you safe.'
The truth is that anything worth doing involves some sort of risk and that playing all out is the way we give ourselves a chance of gaining all we desire - and whatever the outcome, we will grow from the experience knowing that we gave our all.
There is a deep, authentic longing in all of us to express ourselves.  It is a natural innate passion that starts the minute we come out of the womb screaming with the shock of our first gulp of air.  No matter how we numb, dumb or disassociate from it, it will still be there, asking to be free.  This truth is not an authoritarian, know-it-all truth. It is a creative, in the moment, dynamic truth that changes and grows as it flows.
To access it's liberating force, we need to be willing to voice our truth and fly in the face of the lies of fear and the old voices of the music teacher who told us to mime, the parent who told us to shut up, the siblings who called us names when we sang.
We can only fly, not fall, when we take even the tiniest step towards voicing our truth, because as Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly, if we speak shame it begins to wither.  Each time we write a line of our book, turn up for choir or holler our favourite song in the bath, we are vanquishing the fear that keeps our voices buried.

Building Honest Connection
My voice is unadorned. I don't try for perfection. I try to be honest and truthful and soulful with the voice I have. If I make mistakes in notes, or there are cracks in notes, I don't fix them. That's the way it is. - Neil Diamond
When we allow ourselves the grace of being vulnerable, we understand that our job is to be fully engaged and true in the creative moment, rather than to be perfect.  The paradox is when we let go of the need to be liked and get it right, then we have a much greater chance of connecting with our audience as it is emotional resonance that bonds us, not perfection.  We love to hear singers who play all out - the rawness of Amy Winehouse captivated millions of listeners, as did the deep soul of Aretha Franklin who intended but never got round to learning to read music.  By singing from the truth at her core, Aretha said that her song Respect connected with 'the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher—everyone wanted respect. It was also one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement. The song took on monumental significance.'  So whilst technique (the WHAT of singing) is helpful, staying tuned to the truth of WHY we sing, can deeply connect our voices with others.
 
Trusting the Truth
Truth is powerful and it will prevail - Sojourner Truth 
Even when we fall down rabbit holes or get stuck in the headlights of fear, we can trust the fire of our creative truth to burn a way through.  Each time we flex our creative voice, even if it's just a tiny whisper, it grows stronger, brighter, braver.  How can I say this with such confidence? - because I am honoured to witness countless brave individuals in my choirs and 121s going over their own personal edges of discomfort, fear and resistance and finding their wings.  Yes we wobble around, we hit bum notes and there may well be a few emergency landings and alot of falling about laughing - and we fly. And that's where it's at - not behind the safety barriers of fear, but in the great adventure of voicing truth.

Wishing you a jubilant June of joyful flights of creative truth