What Perfectionism, Joy and Detachment Have To Do With Singing

I went to an elementary school talent show recently, and it was about as chaotic and hysterical as you would imagine. But one thing struck me as each kid got up to do their thing – how much JOY they had while performing.

It didn’t matter how good or bad of a dancer/singer/magician/violinist they actually were. Those kids were just SO happy to be up there performing their little hearts out, sharing their excitement and energy with us.

It got me thinking how far we stray from that as we get older.

Remember how it felt to sing when you were younger?

I used to dance around my bedroom in my jammies singing to Whitney Houston and George Michael (I’m a child of the 80’s, what can I say!).

Remember how it felt before singing became this thing you had to conquer and perfect?

The thing is, perfectionism leads us to over control. The more we try to control our sound, the less we trust our technique and the worse our performances become.

Perfectionism is the thief of JOY. Yet so many of us are such control freaks and perfectionists around our singing!

I should know because once upon a time I was the biggest perfectionist of them all. But perfectionism in singing leads to micromanagement of the sound and lemme tell you, that’ll really kill the joy.

When we were little and used to jam out to our favorite singers – or even now when we rock out in the car or in the shower – it’s JOYFUL. There are no consequences, perfectionism goes out the window, we sing from the truth of our joy and it feels GREAT.

And guess what?? THAT’S the kind of singing that connects most with listeners.

The trick is to be able to disconnect from perfectionism and hook into joy when it counts. Sure, it’s easy to do when nobody is listening because when we don’t care, we are willing to let go. But how do we stop caring and let go when so many of us are SO overly invested in the outcome of our singing??

How do we cultivate the ability to bring that “sing like you just don’t care” feeing into our professional performing life?

The answer begins with detachment – detaching your sense of self (your self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence) from your singing. Singing is something you do. It’s not who you are. You have a voice – you ARE NOT a voice. You are many more things both known and unknown.

But if your entire sense of self is wrapped up in your voice, then perfectionism becomes necessary since ANY fault in your singing is perceived as a fault in the self and that can’t be abided. So perfectionism rules and joy gets lost.

So how do we learn detachment? One of the best ways I know to practice detachment is to meditate. You know me, I’m a huge proponent of meditation (that’s why it’s such a big part of my Intensive program for singers). When we meditate, we practice detaching the true self (where joy is available to you ANY time) from the ego mind (where control and perfectionism run riot).

If you’ve never meditated before and want a good place to start, check out Insight Timer. It’s a free ap with thousands of guided meditations of varying lengths to chose from. Start your own daily practice and see how, with time and consistency, you are so much more able to access the joy.







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