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Episode 51 – What Does Your Singing Mean About You?


Do you ever give yourself time to sing – just to sing?

Do you ever allow yourself the luxury of singing with absolutely no attachment to how you sound?

I mean really sing for the pure fun and joy of making sound and expressing yourself.

Have you ever been in a “world” where you are accepted just as you are?

More importantly, that you accept yourself as you are and as you sound?

Can you create that for yourself?

Or are you always in the “real” world where you have to sound a certain way and meet criteria and conditions that are imposed on you or that you impose on yourself?

Can you imagine what it’s like to sing as a child with absolutely NO concern for how you sound? Where how you sound has NO meaning.

I don’t mean you’re trying to feel like that, I mean have you actually experienced that?

It’s not easy when the stakes are high for your singing – is it?

Is it even possible?

I believe it is. (-:

Listen and enjoy!

Download This Episode!

The Inner Singer Podcast

Episode 51 – Transcripts

What Does Your Singing Mean About You?

Hey there, everybody. This is Mike Goodrich. And thank you so much for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast episode number 51. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m so happy that you guys are listening.

I just checked my stats, which I do every once in a while just for fun. It looks like I’m on my way—or the Inner Singer Podcast—is on its way to having the most downloads this month than ever before.

So, I’m a little late with this one. I’m sorry. I’ve been very, very, very, very, very busy. I just finished up today. My wife and I, we teach at our home school coop, and two other classes we teach. We teach our kids ‘Glee’ and ‘Glee’ for the teenagers. We call it ‘Glee’, but it’s a musical theater thing.

They had their performance today, both groups of kids. And it was awesome. In the one with the little ones, I played piano for the first number, and then guitar for the last number. That was really fun.

I was a little nervous. I always get nervous when I play the piano in front of people because I can fake it pretty well for teaching voice. But when the stakes are high, I don’t really consider myself a piano player, so I get a little nervous. But I had to practice what I preach, and just go for the fun of it.

And I really had fun. I really had a great time. But my hands were a little sweaty, that’s for sure. Even though I don’t think anybody was really listening to much to me. It’s fun to be in a position, once in a while, like that, to have to say, “Okay. Well, what do I talk about? Where can I go here? I can either get nervous or think it’s just about me, or just really have a lot of fun with it.”

I had a lot of fun with that, and had a lot of fun playing guitar. The show just went through right. The kids were awesome. Really, really reminds me—and reminded my wife—the fun that’s involved in this. Seeing these kids, anywhere from—I think the youngest in the class that my son is in is probably nine—eight, nine or something like that. The oldest is probably 11. And then the older class up about 17 I think.

Just to watch the joy and the fun and the dreams that they have about life and the aliveness is so exciting, fun, and joyful to be around. They haven’t gotten jaded. They’re in it for the right reasons. That’s really great.

So many people I have seen over the years start like that. And then, as the stakes get higher, they start losing the joy. They come to me, and they’re saying, “I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore.” Then they ask me often times, “Do you think I should do it? Should I just quit? Am I any good?”

The first question I always ask them is, “Is it fun? Do you love this?” Often times, when I get to that point, it’s “No, that’s the problem. It’s not fun anymore.” But why isn’t it fun? Because now it means something.

Now, it means something about me. It’s no longer just an expression of my joy and my being. Now, it means something about me. “If I don’t do this well, there’s something wrong with me.” Now, there are criteria that I have to meet and I feel like I’m being judged, and I feel like I’m judging myself.

It really is always about getting back to the joy of singing and the reason that we started doing this in the first place. The stakes weren’t high.

When my little boy who sings 24/7—now I know why there are soundtracks in movies. I think I’ve said this before. There’s a soundtrack in his life, and he creates it. He’s always humming, or singing, or doing something. There’s always a soundtrack for what he’s doing. He’s making light saber noises or something. There’s always a soundtrack.

That’s how we are. That’s how we start. We start expressing ourselves, and it doesn’t mean anything about us.

When we start singing, initially, it means nothing about us. Isn’t it funny? We just sing for the joy. We make sound because it’s fun to make sound. There’s no identification with “this means something about me.” “If I miss that note, this means something. If I get that note, this means something.”

When he’s singing, he hits a high note, he just wails like a little rock singer. And sometimes, he’ll miss it and his voice will crack, and he just laughs. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s so fun to watch somebody sing when it doesn’t mean anything except the joy of expression.

I know, probably, a lot of things—by the way, this wasn’t even going to be the subject of the podcast. I’m sure I’ll get to what I was going to get to. There could be those listening and thinking, “Well, yeah, that’s easy for a nine-year-old to sing and have it not mean anything. But how do I go out and perform a lead in Broadway, or sing at my friend’s wedding, or do karaoke in front of all my friends who know I’m studying voice or record this song that I just wrote, how do I do all of those things and have it mean nothing? Mike, you’re just totally out of the box here. It means something. It has to be good.”

And I get that. I totally understand. But I also understand that the more it means on that level, the less fun you’re going to have and the harder it’s going to be.

We really do have to just accept that if we begin to identify too much with this as who we are, as meaning something about our capabilities or our value in the world, then we are going to be, perhaps, derailed. And not derailed in a bad way, but maybe derailed in a way which just suggests that it’s not so much fun anymore. We start losing the joy and the fun of this.

So yeah, I actually am suggesting that if we could get back a little bit more, no matter how high the stakes appear to be in our career, no matter how high they appear to be for the world—

Seriously, whether you’re in Broadway, whether you’re a major recording person, whether you’re singing at a wedding or karaoke, or just singing for your family, or just singing for yourself in a room, it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter what the stakes are. It matters what you think the stakes are. You can be performing on Broadway and having the time of your life, or you can be singing at karaoke and being completely miserable because it means too much. And you can be really good either time. It’s the meaning you give it. It’s the meaning you give it reflecting back to the meaning you give it about what it means about you and your value, your worth and your worthiness.

That’s all I’m saying. I’m saying the more we can detach from this meaning anything about our essence and of who we are—anything about our value on the planet, anything about our worth—the more we can detach from that and get back to this child-like attitude of singing just for fun, singing because it feels good, singing to make sound and to express our soul, express ourselves, express our joy and our life, our energy, and our vitality—the more we can get back to that, I think, the more we’re going to enjoy singing at whatever level.

I think the higher level we perceive we are at, the more roadblocks we throw on ourselves and the more we say, “This should mean something because I’m at this level now.”

But when do we graduate to a level where we decide that it needs to mean something and be more important? Is it the first time we sing at somebody’s wedding? Is it the first time we stand up for karaoke? Is it the first time we record a song that we wrote or a cover song? The first time we do a YouTube video? The first time we appear on Broadway?

When is it? Where have we set the bar? Where have we set this standard that, “Okay, when I get to here, it’s going to begin to mean something, and I’m going to start losing the fun because now the stakes are too high.”

Where is that set in your life? Is it set somewhere? Are you aware of where it’s set?

There’s a keen way to become aware of where it’s set because you will feel yourself getting nervous. You will feel yourself getting afraid. You will feel yourself feeling like a, “Uh… I better be really good” or that perfectionist thing kicks in. You’ll feel when all of a sudden, “Oh, my gosh, this means something.”

Believe me, when I say all these things, I’m talking to myself too. I’ve told you many, many times. I don’t sit on a cloud somewhere, talking down to people. No, that’s not what I do. I sit on a level playing field, talking to you, saying things that I need to hear. We teach what we need to learn.

I don’t have all these under my belt. I have tools. And that’s what I want to share with you—tools.

When I did the little piano thing today, I played one piano song. And quite frankly, it’s something I can do in my sleep. Yet my hands were still sweaty and I still goofed up at the beginning. I don’t think anybody heard, but I was nervous. After I got that out of the way, I let go and I really had a good time.

And the same thing with the guitar. I didn’t make any mistakes on the guitar, but my hands were really sweaty. I started off, probably, not as confident. Once I felt my hands actually forming the chords—and I’ve played forever— once I felt my hands actually forming the chords, I really got into it, and I had a really, really good time.

It really helped to be performing and experiencing with the kids. The way we teach the kids, we don’t set them up to fail. We don’t set them up with any huge, high expectations. And I’ll tell you what I mean.

Last semester, the little kids, the younger group, they just nailed it. They just brought the house down. They sang for ‘Matilda’, a couple of songs. And when they did ‘Revolting Children’, they nailed it. The audience just stood up and went absolutely berserk. They were so good. They were so cute. They were so amazing. It sounded like a Broadway cast.

I made it a point—and I talked to one of the parents today before the show today—I made it a point not to tell the kids what the audience would be expecting. Here’s what I did not do. I didn’t say, “Okay, guys. You nailed it the last time. The stakes are really high, so the audience is really expecting a lot from you. You guys got to pull it together and just nail it this time.” That’s what I did not say.

I just want to be clear about that. I did not say that because I did not want to set them up. I didn’t want to set up any fear in their mind for a false expectation and for the expectation that this is hugely important and means something, and that you have a standard that you have to live to because you did a good job the last time.

That would be very, very negative. “Whoa! YOu did a good job last time. You really got to nail it this time.” That’s not really a way, in my mind, to hugely motivate or inspire somebody. That just says, “Okay, you were great last time, don’t mess it up this time.” That’s the energy behind that.

If you say, “Wow! You did a great job last time. Boy, the audience is really expecting a lot, you got to nail it this time,” the energy behind that—not the words, but the energy is—“You better not mess this up because you nailed it the last time and they’re expecting a lot from you, guys.”

That’s what I did not say. And I did not want to plant that in their minds. I’m stressing that I didn’t say that, neither did my wife.

What we did say was, “You, guys, were amazing last time. You had so much fun. Let’ go out there and have more fun this time. Let’s just have the best time ever.”

My little boy would say, “I’m really excited, but I’m scared.” And I said “You know what? It’s totally okay to be scared.” I said, “I’m scared. I’m a little nervous. I have to play the piano and the guitar.” I said, “Listen, if I mess up the piano, everybody’s going to hear it. And if I mess up the guitar, everybody’s going to see it. But if any of you, guys, on the stage missed a step or forget a word or something, odds are nobody is going to know anyway. It’s not a big deal”

That’s what life theater is. I’ve messed up a million times. Everybody messes up. It’s part of life theater. “Let’s just go have a great time and have fun” be the key thing. “Let’s go have fun.” Anyway, everybody just had a great time and they totally nailed it. It was fun. And I did great. I had a great time. It was fun.

Anyway, my point being, when do we decide that it means something? I think it’s really important to really look at that and get back to the fun in all these, so that we distance ourselves from this belief that we are our voice, or we are how we did, or you’re only as good as your last performance.

Remember that? Have you all heard that? I’m sure you have. “You’re only as good as you last performance.” Well, that’s nice to say to somebody, huh? That’s really identifying with you’re not even a person, that you’re only a performer, and you’re only as good as you last performance. Well, that’s just really not true of anybody.

So, if we can get back to having just the ability to express ourselves for no reason except that it just pours out of us. And as we can begin to pour that into our singing—

You know, that’s in the old days. All the riffing that’s done these days—and by the way, in my mind (pardon me, I don’t mean to offend anybody), but come on, it’s way overdone these days. Riffing back in the old days meant something. There was an emotion behind it. It was when there wasn’t a word to convey that emotion. No line was written to convey that emotion, and that’s when the riffing came in.

Now, everybody starts their song with, “Oohh…” What does that mean? I don’t even know. I know I’m going off on a tangent here, but it’s my podcast and I can do that if I want to. So, it’s got to be from the heart. It’s got to be organic. Let it just pour through you.

When was the last time you sang that it just poured through you and you had no judgment about it? You just didn’t have any stakes, and you didn’t have to satisfy any criteria, and you didn’t have to perform, and you didn’t have to be great or wonderful, and you didn’t judge yourself. When was the last time you allowed yourself the joy of expressing?

My little boy does. He just sings and sings and sings, and then plays with his life sabers. And then sings more, and sings more, and sings. Write songs and does all these things, but it doesn’t mean anything about him.

When’s the last time—or I—allowed ourselves to do that? Seriously. And if it’s been a while, you got to create some space in your life for that. You really do.

Rarely do I say, “You should do this” or “You have to do this,” But you really do. If you are a singer, and you’re to the point where you don’t have that creative outlet and that expression to sing when it means nothing, you’ve got to create that for yourself. Somehow, you have to make the space for that in your life.

You can’t just sing when it means something. You cannot just sing when the stakes are high. You cannot just sing when there’s a huge criteria to meet and conditions to satisfy. You have to create a space in your life to sing for no reason, for it not meaning anything about you.

And if you have trouble finding that space, here is actually what I was going to talk about in the first place. And let me look down here. We’re 17 minutes into this podcast, and I have not even addressed the actual topic that I thought of because I turned on the mic and away I went. But what I was going to talk about won’t take much time anyway.

It’s a term called “activation energy.” Activation energy, I read about when I was reading the Shawn Achor book—oh, goodness, it’s about positive psychology, The Happiness Advantage. There you go. I’m glad I remembered that.

He talks about something that I did actually. He said he plays guitar—and if I have mentioned this in a previous podcast, forgive me. It bears repeating and I haven’t mentioned it in this in this regard anyway. He said he plays guitar. And so what he did, he found himself just never playing the guitar. And he loves playing guitar and he wanted to get better, but his guitar was locked away in the closet.

And so what he did is he bought himself a stand and he put the guitar on it, out of the case, and put it in his line of fire where he’ll be walking from one place to another—to the kitchen, or whatever. He would constantly see it. It was very easy at that point just to pick up and go play with.

So, that’s what he did. He found himself playing a lot more and getting a lot better and having a lot more fun doing it because he lowered the level of resistance to playing. He lowered the activation energy. He lowered the amount of energy it takes to go get the guitar, sit down, and play it.

That’s a little tip I was going to talk about today. When I heard that, I said, “That’s what I’m going to do.” I said, “I love guitar. I’ve played for years, but I haven’t played in years.” And I wanted to get an electric guitar, and I wanted to do all these stuff, and I wanted to get my little boy a guitar and teach him guitar.

So, anyway, now, by the piano in our living room, we have my new electric guitar, my acoustic guitar, my little boy’s acoustic guitar, and a ukulele all on music stands, out of the cases, with picks in the strings and my cable on the guitar sitting right there. I can grab it anytime. And the amp is right there too. I can plug it in, I can just pick up my guitar, boom, and I’m good to go playing with all my old Eric Clapton leads.

We lowered the activation energy. Our little boy can pick up the guitars. He can pick up the drums and bang on that. I can pick up my acoustic and my electric anytime. The piano’s right there. You can sit down and piano. We can just do whatever we want.

When it was in the case, tucked away in the closet, out in the studio, I never played it. Now, I pick the thing up all the time—even if I only pick it up for five minutes a day, ten minutes here and there. I’m getting so much better. I’m getting my calluses back.

My suggestion to you is—oh, actually my question first before a suggestion. Do you create time to sing? I had no idea the beginning of the podcast was going to come up, and so let’s expand on that. Do you create time to sing when it doesn’t mean anything?

Lower the activation energy for your singing. Create a place where you can just sing. Create a time in your schedule when you can just sing. Sit down and figure out a way—go inside yourself and figure out a way—to make it very easy to just start singing, to do you vocal exercises whether or not you say, “Oh, I have to hook up my CD player. I have to hook up my mp3. I have to do this. By the time I do that, it takes forever. I just don’t have the time to do that.”

Figure out a way to lower the activation energy and make it easy. Create a space where things are all ready to go.

You know what I did? I like to do videos, which you’ll be seeing a lot of videos now. The new website is going to launch very, very soon, TheInnerSinger.com. It’s old right now. But there’s a brand new, gorgeous site coming that will have videos and all kinds of information. I’m really excited about it. It’s working behind the scenes right now. Within a couple, two, three weeks it will be live and it’s going to be really, really cool. There will be lots of great info and a lot of great videos and what-have-you, and a free video giveaway, of course, that you’ll be welcome to as well.

But anyway, the point of this is I love to make videos. I get a huge kick out of it. It’s really fun for me. And as you can tell, I love to talk. What I did is in my garage, I created a studio, a space. My wife likes me to move it out of the way, so I can park the car in there. So, I can do that.

But even when I do that, I have tape on the floor, the backdrops are hung up in the rafters. Let’s say, even if the car is in there, the lights are off to the side. As long as it takes me to back up the car, pull the backdrop down, move the light into position and they’re taped already, put the tripod up, hook my camera on the tripod, close the garage door, turn the lights, I’m good to go. So I have a studio.

It probably takes 10 minutes. It takes longer to get me presentable. It takes longer for me to figure out, “Okay, what am I going to wear in this video?” Luckily, I’ve gotten that down to a little bit of a science because I have a little bit of a theme with regards to what I wear. I’ve lowered the activation energy to the point where it is doable and I actually enjoy it.

Now, before I did that, I was constantly thinking, “Where am I going to film this video? What am I going to wear? How’s the lighting going to be?” And so it was a constant asking these questions and I never got anything done. I never got any videos done. But now that I got the light kit, and I learned how to use it, and I created the backdrops—I have the backdroips, two backdrop, they’re on the rafters, and I got the phone—and now I know how to do everything and I can do it on my own, it’s actually really fun, and I’ve lowered the activation energy to such a point that if I have a block of a couple of hours, boom, I can get so much done. It’s really, really cool.

So, my suggestion then is lower you activation energy to your singing. Create time in your schedule when you can sing and it doesn’t mean anything about you. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Here, look—I wish you could see me right now—but consider a world—and I used to do voiceovers, “In a world…” I would go out on to auditions and say, “Please, no ‘in a world’ voices. That was the thing back when I did voiceovers. Everything was “In a world…” But, anyway, no ‘in a world’ voices.

But let’s consider, in a world where nobody cares, imagine that just for a second. Picture if you will—like Rod Sterling used to say—picture, if you will, a world where nobody cares—and not in a bad way. It’s not nobody cares because everything is lousy. No, nobody cares. Everything is just expression. There’s no judgment. You don’t have judgment of yourself and nobody judges you. People just enjoy their own and your own expression.

Imagine that. Create that world in your mind. And from that place, sing and enjoy it and create places in your life where you sing.

Picture the other world now. Here’s the one most of us spend most of our time in. This is a world where sometimes we’re good, and sometimes we’re bad, where sometimes we sing really well, and that means we’re really cool, really great, and people really like us, and other times, we feel like we sing really badly, and then we think we’re awful people, nobody’s going to like us or nobody’s going to hire us, and who would ever want to listen to us?

It’s two sides of the same coin or two ends of the same stick. It’s either we’re way up, or we’re way down. We’re way up and happy about ourselves or we’re way down and we’re in the dumps.

Let’s give ourselves an opportunity to jump out of that world every once in a while over to this other world where everybody is just onboard with their and your creative expression with zero judgment. It’s just is. And it is glorious. Give yourself some time to spend in that world.

Eventually, if we can bring these two worlds together, so even though we’re now in this world, we can still bring some of that world in. Even though the stakes seem to be high, we’ve still got our foot in that other place where this doesn’t really mean anything about who I am. It doesn’t mean anything about me. I’m going to allow my creative expression to flow through. And I’m just going to sing for the absolute joy of making sound. Cool?

Let’s all create that in our lives. Let’s get back to what this really mean. It’s supposed to be fun and it means creative expression. It doesn’t mean, “That was good, and that was bad.” No. Let’s get out of that world a little bit. Let’s get into the world of, “Wow! I just sing because I sing. I just sing because it’s fun. I just sing because I love to make sound.” Cool?

As I always say, all your feedbacks are totally welcome. Send me emails. You can send me email at Michael@GoodrichVocal.com. For some reason, I can’t get the Inner Singer email to work on my Mac mail. Don’t ask me why. It’s been months and months. I think I need a new computer.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I had a great time today. Excuse me. I’m not even going to edit that cough out. What is it? It’s been 27 minutes, I deserve to be able to clear my throat.

Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great time. I’ve had a great time. I really look forward to seeing you next week. Bye for now.

Hey, send any questions or any comments and anything that you might want to hear or any questions that you might want answered. Anything that you want me to address on the podcast, I’m happy to do it. Let me know. I will talk to you next week. Bye bye!

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