The Ugly Email: Fear vs. Freedom in Singing and Life

Thanks once again for the terrific comments to the last posts. It’s really powerful to hear the insights from you and it’s a great learning experience for us all to understand what you have gone through and what your views are.

In this post I am going to share an email I received.  It’s a perfect example of what we talked about in the last post, and a perfect example of why I do what I do, and probably why you do what you do. Out of courtesy, I won’t reveal the writer or the names he mentions, but bear with me and I think you’ll find this very interesting.

The unfortunate flip side of becoming more public and reaching more people is that you also become a target for abuse.  This is also something every successful artist unfortunately has to deal with.

If you haven’t read the previous post, please click here to read it first so this makes sense to you.

The email I received was from a gentleman who has not done my program, has not studied with me and does not know me. It reads:

"I'm open to new methods and information but I'm (beyond) sceptical about your claim that you can train anyone (who isn't born with a very special gift) to develop a four octave range from a one octave range through the use of video tapes…. I want you to know what I think and how your promotions come across to a real singer who's been through all the hoops, humming, exercising and vocalizations for many years. I can still at 69 years of age sing a ringing high C and (even an E) but I've kept myself in excellent physical condition and had a teacher in Toronto (long deceased) called… (name removed out of courtesy) who also taught … (name removed out of courtesy).  I'm delighted to have been born with a very special gift, so I've never boasted about my voice. But a gift is a gift!  Show me someone who could barely sing and now boasts a four octave range in perfect pitch!"

Now the first question is where on earth did he get the idea that I claim that anyone can develop a four octave range?  I have never made such a claim, nor do I even think a four octave range is necessarily what to strive for.  Most successful singers do not have or need a four octave range.

But the bigger problem is this belief of “the gift”.  This elitist, old-school thinking of being special, of being a “real singer”, is exactly what has stifled the joy of singing for so many. 

We sent him a polite email to clarify that I do not claim that anyone gets a four octave range from my program.

You might think a person might just leave it at that.  But instead he fired back.  And here’s where it gets really interesting.

It turns out that he had not at all heard me state that anyone can get a four octave range.  Instead, he had seen a video in which another person expressed the joy he had gotten from my program as he has now been able to release some of the tremendous pain he’s lived with since childhood – ever since his dream of singing was crushed as a young boy by a man of authority who had told him he could never sing because he didn’t have the “gift”.  That he mentioned his increased range was a side note. The real gist of his story (which, by the way, has inspired many and has received many thanks) was apparently completely lost on our ”real singer” friend with the “gift”.

But our “gifted” man is stuck on the four octave issue and chooses to fire back with another email. It begins with:

"Please note that your response is totally incorrect."

He then continues to proclaim his importance – just as we talked about that people who desperately try to hold on to their authority do (I used the extreme cases of Mubarak and Khaddafi as examples in my previous blog post)

I coach a number of singers and consult with three choirs to demonstrate vocal techniques. At least 20 people have asked me about Per's claims, and I'm naturally compelled to tell them some of these claims stretch credibility far beyond its most extreme tensile strength!  … These claims are highly misleading and I'm surprised someone hasn't threatened legal action for false advertising… I studied and sang with …. (name removed out of courtesy) and I can tell you that this video is nothing but a scam!"

He then goes on ranting about his greatness and continues his accusations until he ends the email with:

Shame on all of you!"

Evidently, he still hasn’t embraced the fact that I never have made the claims he so desperately wants me to have claimed.

Now, in the event he seriously fears people will believe I create four octave ranges in everyone without the student having to do anything, I hereby proclaim publicly that this is not the case.

But the subject matter here is to understand fear. What makes him so afraid that he must write such an aggressive letter to someone he doesn’t know or know anything about in the first place? Has his authority been questioned by the 20 people who have mentioned my teachings? Is he challenged because someone who was abused as a child (abused in the sense that he was led to believe that he didn’t have the “gift”) can experience such newfound joy of singing – joy that our “gifted” man perhaps never has experienced.  Is he afraid that repeatedly claiming who he has studied with is the only way to give him greater stature?  Is he afraid his “students” are doing research on the Internet and are curious about other views and methods?   (Every tyrant is also afraid of others receiving information and will do everything to spread disinformation).  We don’t know of course, and it is not for us to make a judgment.

So why am I writing this?  

Because I fear that there are a tremendous amount of abused children and adults in this world who will never realize their true potential.  I fear children and adults live with beliefs that they don’t have a “gift” and are therefore shut down, while being exposed to the incredibly offensive talk about “gifts” – as if proclaimed (self-proclaimed) “gifted” people are special in the eyes of a God while they aren’t. 

Luckily, the world is also filled with an enormous amount of people who have achieved tremendous success and happiness despite the adult world’s attempt to push them down. These are the inspiring people who have over and over again proven that the adult world’s beliefs of talents (“gifts”) was completely useless and utterly wrong.

I fear a lot of people are oppressed by people who claim authority because of who they have studied with rather than because of who they are. I fear the world will not become a better place unless we recognize why anger, jealousy and hate exists. And I fear that as a result of my own success, will I need to shield myself more and more from abusive people, and will I then become less accessible to people who want my help?

Yes, I experience fear like everyone else, and therefore I act and do what I can to create changes and improvements.
Perhaps this can inspire a desire to reflect before one lashes out at someone (especially someone you don’t know). Perhaps it can help someone who is, or has been treated badly, or had their desires stifled in some way.

Feel free to add your opinion below and, by all means, sing with freedom!