To Sing (and Live) With Freedom: What Does That Mean?

I’m sitting here on the airplane on my way back from a trip to Washington D.C. reflecting on the concept of freedom.

Earlier today I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial – the place where presidents have held speeches and where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his legendary “I have a dream” speech on freedom.

As you know, my program is called Sing With Freedom and there is a reason for that So it’s interesting to think about what freedom is? Freedom from what?

I reflect on what is happening in some parts of our world lately. How the people of Egypt, in their pursuit of freedom, were able to overthrow their dictator in a mere 18 days without violence. How were they able to do this? One main factor was the possibility to communicate (and become better informed) thanks to the Internet (Facebook). Another was that the world was watching. Another was that they no longer were afraid. The chains of fear had been broken. The sight when they danced and sang with freedom afterwards was truly powerful.

Fear lies at the root of everything we seek freedom from. Fear turns into anger and violence. A dictator can only rule by systematizing fear, and when his own fears are challenged his only means are violence. Mubarak attempted to use violence, but when he realized he had no means (no army), his days were over. Khaddafi on the other hand, who witnessed Mubarak’s “failure” will use violence to any means, just as any animal of low consciousness who fears extinction.

You may be familiar with the fight or flight response, but we seldom have the opportunity to run away and make fear suddenly disappear. In societies where we do not face war or threats of torture and death, our fears are different.

How do we recognize fear?

We all know the bullies are bullies because of fear. We have all encountered people who try to feel stronger by belittling others, blaming others and speaking badly about others. Have you ever encountered people in so-called authoritative positions who intimidate, humiliate, and use aggression? Their biggest fear is of course to have their authority challenged.

We see this in dictators of course, but the tendency still exists all over the place - in religious systems, work places, school systems and families.

But how do we recognize fears in ourselves?

The truth is that we seldom want to. Suggest to any violent person that he is afraid and you might be punched in the face. Accepting fear is by many believed to be a sign of weakness. Courage is for many seen as not having fear, when the word "courage", in fact, describes how we act when we experience fear.

It is the person who cannot be aware of his fears who will be oppressed by his fears and likely oppress others.

Do you ever become angry? Do you ever blame others for your anger? Do you ever blame others when things don’t go well? Do you ever intimidate or speak badly about someone? Do you experience resistance or discomfort? Do you hold yourself back? Of course you do. You are human after all.

So here’s my suggestion…. When we experience anger or some kind of resistance, how about we ask ourselves: “What am I afraid of?”.

The issue is not to try to overcome our fear in that instant. We don’t need to announce our fears to the world. The issue is just to be aware. Fear is not necessarily wrong. Fear is helpful. Fear can be good. There is no shame in experiencing and being aware fear. In fact, to become aware becomes extremely empowering.

It is when we fail to recognize fear that we paint ourselves into corners and justify it as “pride”, or become aggressive towards others as well as towards ourselves (in the form of negative self-talk, disempowering beliefs, stress, skepticism, etc).

Fear, or rather the restrictions that unaware fear produces, makes learning, growing and healing immensely difficult.

So to live and sing with freedom… what does that really mean? What does it mean to you?

If in moments of anger or negative self talk you ask yourself what you are afraid of, do you notice something?

Have you encountered people who belittle, blame others, use intimidation or aggression in attempts to appear stronger?

Please post your views on this.& It’s important. Thanks!

I’m sitting here on the airplane on my way back from a trip to Washington D.C. reflecting on the concept of freedom.
Earlier today I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial – the place where presidents have held speeches and where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his legendary “I have a dream” speech on freedom.
As you know, my program is called Sing With Freedom and there is a reason for that.  So it’s interesting to think about what freedom is?  Freedom from what?

  • Catherin Mein says:

    Great article Per!  The nervous adult or the social psychopath  are very common and both bred during chilhood, eg parent to child practising the violin. "Shut the door JImmy I can't bear to hear you playing out of tune".
    The parent can often seek power(for fear of losing authority not only with the child but in the workplace, and usually out of hearing of other colleagues).  Both child and adult victim become  nervous and the parent or workplace perpetrator feels a sense of false power, creating a very unpleasant, tense and fearful environment .
    Your "Sing with Freedom" courses address these issues and give confidence to singers not only on the stage but also at home & in the workplace.. Far more fun way of dealing with fear, than by  attending NLP classes because you reassure your pupils and build up their confidence in all areas if life imperceptibly by default!

  • Franky D. says:

    Growing up I remembered being afraid of many things, whether real or imagined.  I went thru a dark period in my life, and then I came to a turning point. That moment brought me to realize that the God ho is Love resided in me. When that became apparent to me my fears were cast aside.

  • Kevin says:

    Fantastic article Per, I'll definitely be recommending this link to my friends.
    An important takeaway from this also is – when others put you down, know that it's NOT really to put you DOWN. It's a basic way for the other people to artificially push him/herself UP.
    For ppl with low self-esteem and low EQs, it's one of the only ways they know how to feel 'good' and 'in control' – and their actions toward you should never have an impact on how YOU feel.

  • Angie says:

    Very true.  Fear is often at the base of every emotion, action…

  • Louise Kennedy says:

    Great article – and what stops people from singing is generally fear too, isn't it?  Fear of not sounding good, not getting it right, being exposed…etc.etc.  All great artists and singers feel fear and do it anyway.  So to live and sing with freedom is to feel the fear but go for what you would love to do despite the fear.  These people who belittle, blame, use aggression etc  are the ones who cannot own their fear.

  • Rachel Starr says:

    Hi, this is Rachel
    Funny that you just posted this article because I just got home and checked my mail. I just came back from work which is a school, you see, I'm an art and Cree culture and language teacher in Alberta Canada. I'm from the Cree First Nation here in the province. 
    Today I stayed after school was over to do some stuff and after being there for over an hour, a man (parent) of one of my students came to my door and I asked him if he was looking for some and he replied 'the principal', I than told him that the principal wasn't there as it was over 1 hour since school was out.  He than said that 'then you', at that point I was totally surprised at his statement because I couldn't fathom what it was I could do to help him, but to my surprise he began to get louder and he told me that he didn't appreciate what I had said to his daughter.  I didn't know why he would be so angry about my asking his daughter if a bruise she had on her eyelid was still hurting her.  To make a long story short, he was upset that I asked about her injury and that I would assume he was responsible for his daughters injury.  While he was talking he kept walking back and forth in front of my classroom door and kept repeating his intention to speak to my principal about me and  that I should mind my own business.
    I managed to tell him that I didn't see why he would be so upset over my inquiry over his daughters injury particularly because it was his wife who had informed me and naturally, I asked how she was doing. That didn't do anything to appease him and in the end he said,  "I told my wife not to tell any of the teachers and that there were Indian teachers there and I know how they operate.," he than said "I'm gonna see the principal tomorrow and talk to him about you." and then walked off.
    At this point, I was just floored at the fact that this man had entered the school building after hours with no one around to see him enter or walk around the building and then come and accuse me of 'being considerate'?  The whole experience just left me deflated especially because I have met him and his wife on neutral ground and we've had good conversations. 
    After he left, I sat there on my chair thinking back to this morning and where I might have gone wrong in my interaction with this mans daughter, during the whole converation I noticed my physical reaction to his words and their affect on my blood pressure, I also noticed that my tongue felt glued to the roof of my mouth. I immediatly thought about what you said about tongue tension on Lesson 2 (had to laugh) but seriously, I did the tongue excercises in my vehicle on the way home and found that my tongue was sore.  I'm glad there's something I can do to relieve the days stresses.
    By the way, I really enjoy the lessons, I've felt a big change in my mouth all day today and I finally feel like I can do something I really wanted to do for a long time but haven't the skill. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • JoAnn says:

    I sometimes am pressured to sing something I don't know well or haven't sung for some time.  I resist doing it because I fear making a mistake, or a complete mess.  I like to practice a song at least once before I perform on stage to make sure I can still do it.  I don't see anything wrong with that.  When I am home alone, I feel free to sing out and I don't worry about mistakes.  I just try again.   I see singing with freedom as being able to sing a song I know well and love, on stage, so that the audience feels the same emotion I do when i sing it.

  • Marina Lowell says:

    Hi again Per, There seems to have been an error with my previous comment so I will repeat in brief as I feel this is so important.  All you say is true.  The awareness of fear is very important.  I would like to share a very helpful sequence which should be done as soon as one becomes aware of fear.  Take the feeling of fear to the heart chakra, right in the middle of the lower chest, mentally embrace it with love, then give it wings and release it.  Do this everytime you experience fear and you will be blessed with a blissful feeling of intense peace till most or all the fear in your life is released.  Try it.  Good luck and God bless you and all.

  • Don Stewart says:

    Guess we don’t type in the space above to add comments to yours.
    Be afraid and do it anyway. I just tried to speak in church and did conquer the fear and it felt great.
    Your course is well recommended. As I wrote above, Good program, good guy and good luck to you.

  • Jurgita says:

    Hey Per! It's always great to have a new article from you. I, myself, think just about the same things you are writing about in this article. And I SOOOO agree with you. And anytime I think about fear, I always think about the most fearful creatures in the history of this planet – MEN. And what they did (and still are doing) to women… and what all that turns out to be… And every philosophical, psychological, social and spiritual explanations of fear are just asking to put men and what they did to women as an example… And sometimes thinking about all the pain and evil males caused to women and the world makes me so angry but then i remember wise words: "Every time I feel afraid that evil is gonna take over I think of the past and remember and realize that every evil in history sooner or later had failed, PERIOD!". And the my fear goes away and I thing about the good, about empowerment of women and what kind of world it will be when femininity (love, care, compassion, truth, PEACE and all the good and POSITIVE) will rule it.
    Since women's emancipation in Western World it has become way better than it was before; meanwhile in so called Third World countries where entirely and only men rule there's no wealth, no peace; just lack, limitation pain and FEAR. That's why I don't think Egypt or Tunisia, and later Libya, will do any better without their dictators – as long as males are only rulers in those countries, how can somebody expect something positive in there? They will still kill, mutilate, degrade, belittle, intimidate and so on. Only violence will exist there. When patriarchy gets subverted, when women liberate themselves, only then these countries will get better. That applies not only for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, that applies for all extremely patriarchal places: Latin America, all Islam countries, all over Africa, South and Southeast Asia…
    These are my thoughts about fear. I could say way much more about the things I was talking about but I'd need to write a book about that so I could tell all the reasoning, evidence and all that 😉 But I hope people who read your articles have a deep insight and are clever and are NOT ignorant so they will understand what I mean and won't resist my words;) 'Cause I speak the truth 🙂
    And I just have to say one more time: your SING WITH FREEDOM course is amazing, it helped me so much: it gave me new thing and helped me to embrace better all the things that my singing teacher told me. I'm freeing myself and my voice from a fear of not being perfect, and from a fear of failure. This article is very useful too, as all of your articles. Thank you VERY VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P. S. I know not all men are fearful misogynist bastards 😉 I know some really great ones and I hope the number of real men will increase in this world 🙂

    LOVE AND PEACE, AND POSITIVITY FROM LITHUANIA!!!

  • Hello Per 🙂 Brilliant work in the explanation of your considerations regarding 'fear' and what  outcomes can come from it. It is a very enjoyable read and 'truth' shines well in it. It is not just 'singing' that this has been aimed at, it is the idea of 'suppression' in general and how 'fear' causes this. 'Suppression' is a tool used by cowards to cover their own 'fears' and you have outlined this by  using 'tyrants' as models to explain. Fear in itself causes one to feel 'inadequate' and therefore you make excuses of 'can't do' or 'can't have' or 'no interest in'  when if fact you want to have interest but being afraid of making mistakes gives you a feeling you will be 'ridiculed' or something lik this. All this means is that you have taken on the 'suppression' of others to yourself and applied to yourself thus allowing them and their ideas to control your own 'abilities' that you could possibly develop if you just mustered 'courage' by becoming 'aware' of all this. The only person who can stop anyone from doing anything is themselves and it takes courage in itself to acknowledge this to oneself, and act upon it. I thank you for 'outlining 'freedom' in this way so that it can be applied to the 'arts' and so 'free up' some considerations that persons may have about their own potential. I myself have found 'SING WITH FREEDOM' to be the best approach I have come across for conquering 'fear' in singing and you also know I have been around a while and did have 'fears' even though I believed I was in control. Using your 'method' I erradicated those fears and since then have improved most definitely in all aspects. One aspect in particular and that is 'to relax' to the degree that I feel completely 'in charge' of myself and my skill. Thank you again. I am your friend 🙂 

  • Linda S says:

    I wish I could overcome this fear. I tried singing at Karaoke and my throat tightened up so badly, I just started to choke. Thank goodness the DJ was a friend of my sister! In the shower however, that is another story! I've taken voice lessons and when it becomes time for the recital, I quit so I don't have to perform. Perhaps it is time to get over this…Thank you for writing your article.  .  .it gives much food for thought.

  • Vera says:

    This is an eye-opener for me.  A big thanks to Marina for her constructive treatment.  I will practice this for sure!

  • Genovia says:

    Great article!  Would that more than just singers could read it. I never thought that I could sing well enough for others.  I have classical tendencies as a singer so when asked to sing in church, I'd feel that I couldn't give them that good old gospel roll they wanted, so would fail most of the time and get "the other person could really sing."  If they didn't enjoy my style, so what? What am I afraid of, really?  If God gifted me to sing one way, why try to sing another?  I just want to be the best that I can be in my area.  So if I learn to do that without fear, I'll be happy. 

  • Jacqueline Smith says:

    Thank you Per, I really enjoyed the article and it has in fact put a situation, that I find myself in, into perspective. It does relate to one of the choirs that I sing with.
    Thank you also for the opportunity which has enabled me to become a lifetime member.

  • rolando v suarez says:

    Im more than 50 years  old but  this article inspires  me  to take singing  more  seriously  especially when I met the girl that I courted 30 years ago  When I  sing now  there is  more  life, more joy and more feeling We regularly see each other  once  a  week  but  we  are only friends  This  article  encourages  me  so much     ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE SO MANY SONGS TO SING         Thanks a lot

  • Paula Gallo says:

    We develop an awareness of any emotion when we breathe. Singing enhances our breath. centers us, so we can fully integrate with the earth and ground ourselves. Being grounded alleviates fear. 
    i have studied Bio Energetics Analysis with Alexander and Leslie Lowen, and in this kind of therapy healing comes from breathing. I use some of these techniques in the voice lessons I teach to help my students relax and let go. 
    Within a few minutes, their voices sound different and better:-)
    Adults and children a like leave my studio feeling ALIVE!
    Thanks for what you are doing Per!

  • Carolyn Morrow says:

    Per, you are the best.  Your perception of the way fear can block our freedom is so true.  It also combines with some of your earlier lessons about how much damage "control" can do to us when we try to force the ideas of others on our style of singing.  Freedom happens when we lose our fear and control…my thanks as always.

  • Linda R says:

    I go do karaoke about once a week with a group of friends and acquaintances. Some of us sing a lot, some sing a little, some sing only with a group, some don’t sing at all but enjoy coming. But there’s a problem. It turns out that one of our group (who sings occasionally) always criticizes the other singers (including people from our group) while they’re singing. She never criticizes anyone to their face, but we all hear her criticizing others’ singing and I can assume she’s doing it to me while I’m up there singing too. I’m sure this is decreasing people’s willingness to solo. No one is in a position to dis-invite this person since she’s part of the group and we see her at work and in other social situations.

  •  
    As with most problems, recognizing that there is a problem and naming it is often 50% of the solution. Fear is no different. It's often fear of being afraid or of seeming afraid to others too. 
    A thing about anger that I've noticed over the years. The times I get the most angry – I'm talking volcanic anger here, which also fumes over a long period of time – I end up by realizing that it's not the other person that I'm really angry with but myself. Why did I trust someone when I knew in my heart of hearts that the person wasn't trustworthy ? Or why didn't I find the appropriate reply to a put-down ? Sometimes we are aggressed and, let's face it, we're just not ready with that witty quip which would save the situation and our honour. It's just not possible to be ready all the time. Who is? So you have to forgive yourself for not being perfect, and that's not always easy. 
    Again I'm intrigued by the way this singing method goes beyond the bounds of a 'usual' singing course. Thank you, Per.

  • A reply to Rachel's story:
    I'm not a psychologist, but it sounds as if the parent has something to reproach himself for.  If he didn't put the bruise on his daughter's face, then maybe he has hit her in the past.  You may have stumbled on a problem at home that requires surveillance.
    I suspect that the father in question has no intention of talking to the principal and that is why he came to school so late.  The question is, how did he know that you would still be there ?
    Good luck, and for goodness sake don't reproach yourself for enquiring after a student's welfare.

  • Jonathan S. says:

    "We all know the bullies are bullies because of fear."
    I hadn't previously thought of it like that, but it's really true.  And what drives them to oppress others if not their own suppressed feelings of fear and oppression?  Just like the saying goes, "Hurting people hurt others." 
    Furthermore, there might be no one oppressing you and no one pressuring you, and yet you feel as though you must live up to some pre-conceived standard, when it's really just us putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves.
    A negative perfectionist is obsessed with his/her own flaws, always focuses on what they "can't" do, is constantly anxious about performing and feels the need to impress, while the positive perfectionist sets high but reasonable goals, focuses on what can be done and forgives him/herself whenever they fall short.
    I don't think that I can agree with saying that fear is good or helpful, but the awareness of fear is certainly imperative in order to challenge those fears and overcome them.   As you mentioned, asking ourselves, "What am I really so afraid of?"  And then act accordingly in order to conquer those restrictions that fear will undoubtedly inflict upon us.
    Finally, I'd like to share a well-known Bible verse on the subject:     "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."     II Timothy 1:7    

  • Charli says:

    Wow, you've just hit home on a lot of subjects for me… i have a hard time believing in myself, i don't believe in myself, and i'm afraid to persue any venture because i don't believe the outcome will be a positive one, i only believe in failure.
    I also have a lot of irational fears, that have produced a lot of anxiety, of which i have been suffering for the last 4 months, but i'm trying my hardest each and every day to help myself see the beauty within myself, and also within the world, and try hard not to always focus on the negative aspects. It doesn't seem to be yielding many results at the moment, but hopefully in time i'll be able to live at peace with my thoughts, and the world around me! =)

  • Regine says:

    I was thinking to myself recently about how when I was in the middle of my second natural child birth, my mid-wife at one point looked at me and said "don't get lost in the pain", and it seems relative to when we feel fear to be aware of it, but not get lost in it…

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  • Alex says:

    There are times when I feel some anger from people close to me for not giving me credit that I, egocentrically, think I deserve . This is particularly true regarding my girlfriend, because sometimes I do not think she likes my singing. Dear Pear, your article helped me think well. Now I realize that the reason to feel that anger has to do with fear, and I cannot blame her at all. Thank you for helping me see that. This ghost is no longer going to disturb my relationship.

  • Veronica T says:

    Thanks Per I enjoyed reading this acticle. Freedom has  different meaning  to so many people and so does fear. It all depands on what you have experienced in your life. When you mentioned,  Martin Luther King Jr and the words "Free at last, Free at last" came to light.  there is such power in those word. I thought about the slaves and their singing. They lived in fear most of there lives and singing gave them FREEDOM!. As I do, sing for every emotion, and it never fails me..
    Fear sometimes is a great motivator also.

  • Mr.Dee says:

    Indeed, your post enlightens me. As I grew up, I constantly lived in fear; and that fear, like you say, oppressed me and affected my relationship with the other. And often, when I run away from other human being due to my inner fear, I often blame myself for being coward, and not MANLY. Those feelings of negativity, guilt, shame crushed me, and it killed everything i have. I lost freedom, and I give that freedom of mine into other's decision. However, thanks to your post now I realize that all what i do is just running away and further worsen my situation. Thanks you a lot gor helping me realize that i'm not, at least, a failure.

  • Marylou says:

    Thanks Per.  I have been singing for about a year now, (karoake).  It took me a while to get up on stage and sing with courage and with feelings. I have to build up courage so that I can sing with feelings.  Before I started singing I hum along while Im playing piano.  I could not get myself to play piano and sing at the same time, but I'm trying my best.  I could sing though having the words infront of me (karoake style) and I do well.  Sometimes I would sing with friends but occasionally there would be someone who would criticize us just to be mean.  I have encountered bullies in the music business, who are intimidating, belittling me, and those also who uses agressions, and those that would bad mouth me so that I would feel bad about myself  and so that I could not perform well.  It bothered me a lot before but now that I have detached myself to those kind of people, I feel great about myself and also performing.  You see, I think those people who tries to intimidate us are the real lossers, because they are not as good as we are, and by intimidating of course we would not do well in singing or playing piano or in whatever we want to do.  So what I did Per, is do exactly what they're doing and they couldn't stand it. What I meant was, I repeated exactly what this bullies say before I perform, smiled at him, brused off the negative talk, held my head up walked straight to the stage, pause and took a deep breath looked straight and started singing from my heart or played piano with gusto.  Wow, did I do a great job. I believe that if we put our heart and soul into what we are doing we could accomplish a lot.  We also need to stay away from people who are poison to our ambitions in life.  Thank you,
     

  • Natalia says:

    Thank you for the article.I now try to retire from those people which oppress me so, that it tells badly on my singing.Ñðàõ before negative opinion interferes with me to sing in freedom. Now I understand it. Thank you.

  • wayne parsons says:

    well, all great reading, never been here B 4. not sure  what it's all bout. no good at singing. not many friends, if I try singing I will have even less. lol. interesting

  • deirdre hauser says:

    It is so true that accepting your fears sets you free.  When I finally accepted that I can never be perfect, and decided the it was 'OK' I felt a huge weight lift off of me. 

  • nina graham says:

    It is better to recongize fear. It can maybe be good . However if you have a lot of fear that's not good.
    I myself love singing and really want to become a singer.
    I fear my sister may be right when saying I will never make it as a singer.  I just want my chance to see if I could be a great or good singer.  I dream of being able to sing with freedom in front of everyone,  But I think I am not good enough.  I want to raise my confidence but am having a hard to to do so.  Singing with freedom is my dream ,a dream I want to make into a reality .

  • Endang Wilandari says:

    Thank you. Its new to me to know the meaning of ‘freedom’ in this sense.

  • Kent Brashear says:

    ON FEAR TO SING: Forty-one years ago when I met my wife she thought I sang pretty well. I had always wanted to be able to sing and I had taken voice when I was a music major (trumpet player). When I met my wife I was taking lessons with a professor who used to be a Broadway singer and he was a tremendous singer. He was working on my lower register and I could sing down to about twelve notes from the bottom of the piano. For the past fifteen or twenty years my wife tells me to shut up if I open my mouth to sing so I have kept my mouth shut. I am seriously thinking about signing up for Per’s program but one hold back is now my wife and I are retired and at home. That means I have no place to practice. I am afraid that my wife will tell me to shut up again and afraid that she will get upset at me for spending the money on the course. So you see, fear is holding me back to open up and try. My wife and two of my sons for some mysterious reason are natural singers. They have fantastic tonal memories and sing with natural vibrato. I’ve never had a vibrato and I think that is an important mark of a singer. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, 2011, and all three sons and seven of the eight grand kids were at the house. I was in the kitchen and singing All of Me, which has some tricky intervals in it. My thirty-three year-old, the youngest, who used to be a popular karaoke singer in Austin, came into the kitchen and gave me one of those awful looks that said Dad, you sound terrible – shut up. So again, fear shut me up. Sorry Folks for taking up so much space here, I just wanted to join the conversation and vent my decades old frustration and share how fear has put the skids on one old Texan. Merry Christmas to all.

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