Archive for May, 2011

Singing Is a Game to Enjoy! – A Growth Story

I always try to explain how the Shine on Stage process can work for you. But I couldn’t do that any better than someone who actually went through the process. Today, singer and voice teacher Veronika Madler (Cologne) shares her personal Shine on Stage experience and gives you a personal and profound impression of her process of growth. It’s all about showing her full potential on stage, about handling negative beliefs and emotions. Thank you Veronika, and my readers, enjoy!

„Through working with Shine on Stage I feel so much lighter. Much happier, too. I think I treat myself better.“

Singer and voice teacher Veronka Madler (Cologne) talks about her personal learning process with stage fright, self-esteem and control on stage.

It’s been eleven years that I have known Katharina from university times in Wuerzburg. Since then, we are companions. But it wasn’t until last November when I started working with her.

At that time I found myself on a very good path with my voice. Yet in decisive situations like auditions or different kinds of situations of appraisal in life, I felt bare and felt how my neck, my muscles, and my jaw became tense, and it was not possible to reliably access my skills and the results of my work. It had become somewhat like a torture to sing in front of people. I was in a crisis. During the last few years I had developed my technique and come a long way, but I simply wasn’t able to change such crucial parts as my negative beliefs and thoughts, the suddenly appearing and overwhelming emotions, and the background reasons why things wouldn’t work properly. I could not even recognize that the origin of my obstacles was on that level. I had always hoped that the knot would work itself out by technical know-how with the voice. Well, that was obviously wrong.

I was fed up with everything in life being difficult and hard. Auditioning had become a horrifying scenario for me and I avoided it like the plague. In consequence, I make my living teaching. But my dream to be on stage was still alive. Finally, I came to the decision to set a deadline and to give myself two more years in order to succeed in my profession as a singer.

We had worked on releasing emotions with the Bodycode already in the summer of 2009, and I definitely was aware of how different and good I felt afterwards. But it wasn’t before November 2010 after an audition that I was tired of sorrow and suffering that I decided to look for help.

Katharina very much encouraged me to do this work and I realized quickly that it means to work on different levels. In my great desperation, my faith in my innermost potentials was almost completely gone. At first, Katharina taught me to use the EFT, the tapping technique. I’ve learnt very quickly how to use it by myself. Within only a few weeks, I really started appreciating this technique and I sat there tapping for hours, as if I was meditating.

I have also learned and quickly used the technique to dissolve belief patterns and other methods. Little by little, I learned to empathize more with myself. Thus I became aware not only of emotions and beliefs, but also of the body symptoms connected with them. The techniques turned out to be the perfect methods to get rid of these pains and tensions, and I could use them like signals, helping me to access deeper layers of myself. This may sound mysterious but works perfectly as long as I keep engaged in sensing. And sensing is something not really devious for a singer. Thus, I have simply developed my long existing potentials.

I have just participated in one of Katharina’s two-day courses on these techniques. As I didn’t come from the same surroundings as the other participants and as I was older than most of them, I had the chance to take a very interesting position: I became an observer. I’ve been working with Katharina’s techniques intensely for five months and therefore I knew well what was important. It was extremely interesting to see which stage people were at and what their processes were, and how they dealt with the information they got.

The method of anchoring was a great discovery I made in this workshop. I think a year ago I would not have had the right inner focus to really use this method, but today I am convinced that it is a great help for getting into the performance and being more present on stage.

When you first start dealing with the topics causing the jitters in auditions or stage fright it is extremely difficult to admit that you have shortcomings. You try very hard to convince yourself: “I have all these things under control.” You have to remain sovereign on stage and you think that control is the best way to do that. That is also what we learn in the conservatories because hardly anyone dares to access the true authenticity of being, which is actually the only true key to bringing real emotions onto the stage. We can reach such beautiful emotional experiences, at first in ourselves and then moving the audience, when we truly admit to ourselves who and what we are, and that we all sit in one boat, and that we all want the same thing: to experience beauty. That’s when we can learn to live the music with humility. That is what it is all about for me. When I am humble I can reach the people. That doesn’t mean to be frightened but it means to know the truth about the core of the music. Today, it is my opinion that this should be the actual job of the conservatories. But we are so much entangled in our everyday problems that it is so difficult to let go of them. The problem can be totally obvious but we still hold on to control. We haven’t learned it differently and are also often caught up in collective patterns. It has brought a great relief to my life to recognize this.

Experiencing several of Katharina’s techniques makes it much easier for me to say: „Oh, I see, this is the thing to look at now and to work with.“ For example sensing shame and admitting it to myself. And I had huge issues with my voice. In my crisis I experienced my voice totally dissociated from myself. That basically means that I didn’t have it under control at all. And it really did whatever it wanted. I always wanted something different than my voice and then tried to force it to go my way. Probably this process had to happen so that I could find myself in the desperate situation that forced me to look at the causes and at that which lies behind them. It was and still is a great alleviation to recognize that and to suppress it no longer as it is simply so very normal. It isn’t a shame to feel ashamed, to make mistakes, to carry blame, etc. I have learned that we accumulate so much in our lives, which does not only evolve from ourselves but also in resonance with our surroundings, our upbringing, etc. When I have the chance now to recognize that it isn’t my luggage that I carry but my grandma’s and that I realize that I have the possibility to give it back to her, that makes me so happy and I simply do so. We don’t have to carry all that stuff around with us. That is so good and releaving!

Today, I feel that success evolves from all this transformation. And I know that all the work on becoming conscious will manifest itself in external success. I have become aware that I have dissolved many very straining issues. But I also know very clearly that there are always new things emerging. It simply is a fact that life is permanent change. It seems that one has to keep clearing emotional blockades, again and again. This process can take a long time. But at some point it is the time to take a clear decision, and in order to do so one has to let go of control. I have experienced that letting go of control is the most difficult learning process. And it is therefore that I think it is so great that these methods allow me to let things run at my speed. I have the chance to become aware of them at first, then I feel them and then I know that I can let them go or rather want to let them go, because mostly I feel things very heavily. Thus one light bulb moment hunts another one and I noticeably free myself until I can breathe again.

Now, I find myself in a good spot heading the right way with my voice, my technique and my personality. I have become conscious of the fact that a large part in me works in patterns. All the way through my life my world view is formed through beliefs. I have learned Katharina’s techniques and they enable me to dissolve these patterns step by step as they enter my consciousness. This emotional realization happens, thank God, on a mental as well as on a physical level. I have recognized that this is what learning means to me and I am inexplicably thankful for that.

With the knowledge that I can also completely let go of the control in the auditioning situation, use the anchoring technique, tap on all the nervous symptoms beforehand in order to become calm, and a lot more, I face the future with serenity. I am looking forward to soon have the occasion of standing in front of my audience and the jury and to let the music flow freely to them. I am looking forward to enjoying the expressiveness in the pieces that I sing and to shining on stage.

But there is still something fighting within me: I know exactly what I want to express but I don’t necessarily manage to get there as I still slide into technical control. There are surely still some beliefs that emerge. And it is these beliefs that demand my attention now. They seem to say: “Look at me! It is I you have to deal with now.“

I think that I’ve learned to feel and sense things so well, that I will also feel when it’s the right moment for me to make the step to auditioning for the next agency.

It has been absolutely exciting for me to observe what happens if I don’t put myself under such great pressure. The number of my singing students increases and it seems good like that. They keep becoming younger, that is also fine. Because the younger they are, the more playful is singing with them.

That is supposedly what I have the chance to learn again: that singing is a game that makes me and others happy! I am simply thankful for that.

Who am I, a failure or a performer?

The motivation to build a career and be a good performer has its ups and downs and is linked to your identity, the way you perceive yourself. Are you a great performer living his or her dream, or do you feel like a failure? In many cases, motivation depends to a large extend on the feedback you get. So the question is: When you don’t have a contract, work in something else to make a living, or the feedback you get is negative, how can you still know that you are the performer, that you live your dream, and that you are not a failure?

Performing is identity

All the stage professions have one thing in common – what you do is extremely personal. It is not just a product you are developing, but you are the product. The music or the role you enact form such a personal, deep part of you, that there is not other way than this being personal. And if it’s not personal, it’s boring. As performing is so personal, it really has to do with your identity. And identity is nothing but a set of deeply rooted beliefs about yourself and the way you are. When you perform and are successful on stage, it is easy to feel “I am a great singer who has something to say” or “I am the actor creating intense experiences” or “I am the musician who lives and transmits the music and its meaning”.

Positive identity brings motivation

When you are connected with your positive identity, motivation comes by itself and gets you going towards living your dream. Unfortunately, we don’t only have a positive identity, but parts of ourselves are full of doubts and limitations, such as “I am not good enough”, “I am a failure”, “I am the one who always has to fight for everything”. As we’ve discussed before, these kinds of deeply rooted beliefs have a strong impact on the reality we experience. They can drag down or raise your energy, make you feel hopeless or powerful, influence your relationships and the chances you get and use.

Our natural state is being motivated, happy, relaxed, at peace and fulfilled, and to feel one with your identity, to live your dream. All the doubts and negative emotions block us from accessing this natural state of resources and energy, and the work with Shine on Stage often focuses on removing these obstacles so that you can reconnect with your natural state of power, motivation and happiness. When you connect with these resources, you can move your audience and have an incredible impact, because you can focus your actions and the energy you project on your message, instead of trying to protect yourself, make yourself appear in a certain way or to impress your audience.

Motivation ups and downs: Doing vs. Being

The really hard thing in your job is to stay motivated when you don’t get any praise or recognition from the outside and when you are not doingwhat you want to do. We are so focused on what we do that it is hard tobe something that we don’t do at the moment. So the question is: How can I be the singer, when I am not on stage? How can I be the actor, when nobody knows me or applauds me? How can I be the musician when all I do is teach? How can I be what I am when I am not doing it?

Keep your dream alive

So this is all about keeping your dream alive when you feel bad, worn out, exhausted, worried or disappointed. It is about remembering who you are in a consistent manner. Here are some ideas how you can help yourself to do it:

  • Formulate your identity as a performer and who you are in your dream in just two sentences, and stick a note on your mirror.
  • Take some time to feel the negative emotions that make you feel that you are a failure. If you stop resisting them, they will eventually disappear and leave you feeling positive about yourself and your situation. Feeling the negative (instead of thinking about it and avoiding it) is a way of getting back into your natural positive state.
  • Be creative: Find new ways to give room to your performer in your daily live, even when you are not performing. The identity of a performer does not necessarily depend on the success on stage, but also on just doing the “creative thing” and “finding room for expression”. Performing is about expressing, and there are many ways to express yourself. Maybe a performance for your friends and neighbors? Maybe an hour of creative time a day? Maybe studying new pieces, or doing a new course? Maybe painting or writing? Or some exchange with other people in your profession, working together?
  • Make a collage of photos of yourself on stage to remind you of positive moments and successes.
  • Do some tapping on positive phrases that remind you of who you really are. Here are some examples:
  1. I am a singer/actor/performer from the bottom of my heart.
  2. I love playing on stage.
  3. I am fully myself on and off stage.
  4. My purpose is to … (e.g. connect people with music).
  5. My dream unfolds at every moment.

Please let me know how you keep your dream alive, and how you manage to be the performer, even when you’re not performing or you’re without positive feedback!