Austin — A few minutes into today’s session, I notice a very familiar occurrence. I’m just singing along, and then I hear an internal thought that says what I just sang — or what I’m about to sing — is either really great or unacceptable. This usually triggers an attempt to stay in that really great zone, or move quickly out of the unacceptable zone. Either path feels like a deadening of my relationship to the music.
Today I look to see more about these judging thoughts. They keep coming, of course, so there’s ample opportunity to study them. I grab them over years with my magnet mind and carry them with me like old scrapbooks.
Some of the judges are images I carry of people in my past. Singing teachers. Coworkers. Former collaborators. My mind conjures their reactions to the music and presents them as real.
And some of the judges are unconsciously-adopted rules, like “even in this practice, you had better be consistently on pitch, in key, building a composition,” or “always throw in elements that show you are a good singer,” or “sing beautifully and interestingly.”
I smile as I see how often I change my behavior in service of some imagined observer or precept. In the moments when I see and distinguish this, my singing gets noticeably more light, crazy and organic and any impulses for cohesion and beauty come from inside the singing experience rather than the thought storage box.
Who makes up your panel of internal judges?