When You Think You Can’t Sing…

If you’re holding on to outdated ideas about your voice, it’s time for a tidy up in your mind!

Your beliefs influence your actions. So if you’re holding on to outdated ideas about your voice, it’s time for a tidy up in your mind!

What people have told you about your voice can have great consequences. Ideas can become beliefs, and these beliefs can either lift you up or put you down.

We’ve all at some point in our lives come across negative remarks. As adults, we may find it easier to brush them of and come back to our own truth. But anything we’ve heard as children, seems to stick for a long time. I’ve come across crazy stories many times as a music teacher. I call them stories because they’re not real (even if we think they are) and crazy because they’re often quite far out and tell us more about the sender than the receiver.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. In my early twenties, I moved to Reykjavik to explore my Icelandic roots, and found a school dedicated to singing. I was so excited to have my first lesson! So I entered the room to meet my singing teacher and accompanist, also quite nervous about this whole new situation. Being an introvert, I need time to find my feet in new experiences. The teacher was being very strict with me and after the third singing lesson I actually came out of the room crying (not the only one, as it turned out!).

I had a talk with the principal of the school and ended up getting a dream teacher who I had great chemistry with and learned so much from.

My point is that there will always be people out there who express their point of view, but you always need to check in with yourself and ask “is this really true?”

Let’s get a bit more practical. What do you do if you have a wish to sing, but you really think you can’t sing? This is where the tidy up comes into the picture!
Here are a few simple steps that can help you sing more confidently:

  1. Discover what’s stopping you.
    What limiting beliefs are you holding on to? If your initial thought is “I don’t know”, then just ask the question: “What limiting beliefs about my voice am I holding on to?”
    You will get answers!
    Maybe you need to start writing down your thoughts, or maybe just become aware of them.
  2. Clear your memory.
    You don’t need to forget what has happened, but you need to forgive. Forgive yourself for accepting someone else’s limiting belief as your own, forgive another person for saying it.
    You can use the 4-phrase Hawaiian forgiveness mantra:
    1) I love you
    2) I’m sorry
    3) Please forgive me
    4) Thank you
    It’s so simple and all-round. It works!
  3. Create positive affirmations.
    Now that you know what’s stopping you, it’s time to get creative and make an antidote. If your limiting belief is “my voice sounds like a crow”, you need to create a positive affirmation saying “my voice is pleasant”.
    Keep repeating your positive affirmation anytime the limiting belief comes sneaking up on you!
    You can find more positive voice affirmations in my blog Affirmations for Singing.
  4. Sing.
    Part of the healing process is to actually use your voice. Take action. Sing.
    Sing in the car or in the shower, sing in the kitchen, sing in nature. Use your voice in a way that feels nourishing to you. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to use the amazing gift that your voice is. Your way.

When you think you can’t sing, think again.
Children who haven’t been judged, sing all the time.
So can you.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Artem Beliaikin

Need more inspiration? My eBook You Can Sing gives you easy-to-understand theory about your voice and practical steps that will help you overcome the four most common limiting beliefs when it comes to singing.

What’s Stopping You?

empty forest

You’ve found me because you’d like to sing. So let’s dive into how you can fulfill that wish.

In life – and with singing – we all have blind spots. Luggage, karma, call it what you like. Things that are stopping us from living our dream life.

I think that when you resolve a lesson in one area of your life, it has a ripple effect on the rest of your life.

I like to start with the voice, because it holds so much information – both on a daily basis e.g. how I’m feeling on a particular day, and the voice reveals any blocks that we have or things that need healing, acceptance or transformation.

When you begin to use your authentic voice, you’ll also begin to stand more and more strong in yourself, you’ll begin to honour your wishes, know what you want and what you don’t want and cultivate the ability to say yes and no.

So my wish for you is that you will sit down for a moment and relax a bit, and ask yourself what could be stopping you from singing. Is it an old memory? Is it limiting beliefs?

Start clearing your limiting beliefs – they are not realistic. Begin to use your voice in everyday life and see what a difference it makes for your overall level of well-being.

It’s not so much about the singing, actually. It’s about how you view yourself, how much courage you have to live a life that makes you happy regardless of what other people think, and it’s the spark or inspiration to go for your dreams.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Anthony

The Beauty of Singing

I’m on a big mission to help more people sing. Because singing is fun, it brings more joy into your life and because it’s deeply empowering.
But equally important, because it can raise your awareness and ultimately bring more joy and beauty to our planet as a whole.

We need to be connected. To our higher selves, to our emotions, our bodies. To nature.
That connection is what makes a positive change in our world.

Singing is beautiful. And it’s something we can all do at all times. We all have vocal qualities, so it’s just a matter of recognising those qualities and to start using them.

We can sing in our own ways, as introverts or extroverts or something in between. As young or old. If you take good care of your voice, you’ll carry a nourishing instrument for life.
And we can sing the same songs with new meanings as we grow and transform.
Singing a favourite song is like connecting to an old friend.

Singing is with you in your ups and downs. You can express deep sadness and profound joy with your voice.

So how can you experience the beauty of singing?

Simply put, here’s what you need:
1) A good singing method
2) Courage

What “a good singing method” is depends on your personality type. Make sure it’s healthy for your voice, that’s the main thing. Your voice is strong and delicate at the same time, and you’ll want to take good care of your vocal chords.

You don’t need a singing method to sing – you can sing now! – but you may come across challenges such as your voice breaking, not knowing if you’re out of tune or you simply don’t know where to start. In those cases, it’s a good idea to get some professional help.

The courage part of singing is probably what feels the most challenging to a lot of us. Because we feel vulnerable when we sing. But you know what? From that place of feeling courageous and vulnerable, beauty happens. Deep joy happens.

The core of your voice has a beautiful spark that will be present in everything you sing.
Be courageous. It’s time for you to sing.

Here are a few tips to help you sing (more)

  • Make your wishes
    Think of a few songs that you’d like to sing. Make sure you keep an open mind and don’t write them off if you think they are too difficult (that’s your teacher’s job to judge). Write your wishes down as your motivation or goal.
  • Set yourself up for success
    If you’re pretty new to singing, start singing a song that you think of as quite easy. It could be a simple children’s song or a favourite song. Something that’s within your reach, but you’ll still stretch your comfort zone a bit.
    Moving forward, you can keep stretching your comfort zone by choosing songs that are just a bit more challenging.
    Remember that comfort zones are unique. For some, getting out of their comfort zones will mean singing to an audience, for others it will mean to sing alone at home without the curtains closed. Begin where you are and expand from there.
  • Listen to vocally balanced singers
    You learn a lot from listening to good singers, because your vocal chords respond to what you hear. And your ears benefit too.
    I could write a whole book on the subject of vocally balanced singers, but a few things to listen out for are:
    – Singers that sound distinct (in a pleasant way), meaning that you can recognise their voices when you hear them.
    – Clear words that you can understand, yet the singer looks like he/she is speaking.
    – A clear connection between the singer’s speaking voice and singing voice (they are two sides of the same coin).
  • Use your voice in everyday life
    Washing dishes can be a lot more fun with a song, and you can start or finish the day with a song. It’s a great way to reconnect to yourself and to begin or close your day in a positive way.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Alina Lomilova

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

The Introvert Singer

Introverts make good singers.

Do you find it hard to sing as an introvert? In this blog, I’ll share how singing and being introvert go hand in hand – and give you ideas to start singing more in your own quiet way.

I used to think that singing was easier for extroverts. People who like to be seen and heard and who don’t have to think too much about what to say. If I could point at one thing that really promotes that belief, it would be the so-called talent shows. There’s a lot of main stream out there that happens to attract extrovert singers – with the odd introvert thrown in.

The fact is that working with your voice is an introvert process. Singing happens inside of your body, and it’s guided by your mind. It’s an internal process that can’t be forced or manipulated if you want to sing with an authentic voice.

So many qualities that introverts hold are a perfect match to singing. As an introvert, you thrive in your own company, you’re self aware, you have a strong ability to concentrate, you reflect and connect to your emotions. And you’re a good listener.
These qualities are all important when you sing.

There are so many ways to be colourful and to express yourself. It might not suit your personality type to burst into a duet with the person beside you in the queue in a shop. Less can do. Humming is a great way to stay centered when you’re out in the world, while honouring your personality.

So maybe it’s time for you to think outside the box and start singing. Start small and begin to stretch your comfort zone.

Simple and fun ways to bring more singing into your life:

  • As a birthday message to a loved one, sing a birthday song on their voice mail. It always brings joy to the receiver!
  • If you’re in a queue and feeling restless or overwhelmed, humming is a great way to relax and make the most of the waiting time.
  • When you’re driving, take the red light as an invitation to sing!
  • Is the idea of singing anywhere else than in a soundproof room all by yourself too embarrassing? Sing in nature. There are plenty of places out there where you can sing to yourself and the trees / bushes / water – and it feels so good.

It all starts with you. You can be that courageous person who brings more singing into everyday life. In your own way.
And guess what happens? Others will be inspired to sing more too!

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Daria Shevtsova

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

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Are you ready to sing?

Create a Nourishing Habit of Singing

Sing every day and create more joy in your life.

Bring more joy into your everyday life by making singing a habit. Here’s how.

I used to think that you need to have tons of self-discipline to learn to sing. So I pushed myself for years to learn, understand, practise, practise, practise…

Until, one day a teacher told me: “Nína, in a sense… practise less.”

What an eye-opener it was. When it comes to the voice – and so many other things in life – you can forget about forcing or pushing if you want nourishing results.
Just like you wouldn’t get anywhere by saying to your apple tree in the springtime: “Hello! Where are the apples?”

At the other end of the scale, there’s the mindset of “I’ll practise when I feel like it,” which could put your progress at a snail’s pace. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’d like to help your voice evolve at a steady pace, there might be a better way.

So if hardcore discipline or practising based on how you feel that day are not sustainable, what’s the way to go?

Create a habit of singing. The great thing about a habit is that you only need enough self-discipline to create it. Once created, it becomes part of your daily routine.
It takes 30-60 days to create a habit, so when I create a new habit, I usually start with 30 days and then see how I’m doing. Keep it simple.

Here’s how to kickstart your new habit of singing:

  1. Make a wish
    What would you like to be able to sing? Write down your wish and start taking steps towards fulfilling it.
  2. How much time would you like to dedicate to singing?
    Be realistic – is 15 minutes a day doable? Or 20 minutes 3 times a week?
    There’s no right or wrong here, just make a plan that suits for your life right now and stick with it.
  3. When are you going to sing?
    Get specific on what time of day you’ll practise singing. Pencil in the practice in your calendar. It’s your time for yourself. It’s important.

No time for practise? Here’s the quick route that will still give you lots of singing joy: Learn a few songs by heart, and sing them while you do your daily activities.
Sing while you drive, sing while you wash-up.
Put your phone in a drawer and sing.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Silviu Cozma

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts on singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

Thank you for subscribing. The Singing Naturally newsletter will arrive in your inbox the first Friday of every month. Please add singingnaturally@outlook.com to your contacts.

Affirmations for Singing

Positive affirmations for singing.

What you believe becomes your reality. In this blog, I’m inviting you to explore your beliefs about your voice – and giving you inspiration to create new nourishing thoughts that eventually lead to greater fulfillment in life.

We all receive a set of beliefs in childhood, and early programming is not questioned too often – we simply don’t know any better than to perceive these beliefs as the truth.

If you’ve been 100% positively supported about using your voice, great! However, if you’ve picked up remarks along the way that have caused you to think negatively about your singing abilities, now could be a good time for a tidy up!

My own story is that I’ve always been complimented for my musicality, singing in tune and having a large vocal range. My limiting belief was planted as I was more than once told by singing teachers that I would probably never have a big voice. It seemed to be a fact.

Fortunately, my passion for singing inspired me to search for meaningful ways to use my voice, and I was encouraged by my intuition to study singing in Iceland and Italy.
It was there – in a small Italian town on a hill – that singing teachers helped me discover that I’m a mezzosoprano, and not a high soprano. And that I indeed have a big voice.

I’m deeply grateful for my discovery, and equally excited when I’m helping singing students release what’s blocking their voices and start embodying their full potential.

Some of the limiting beliefs I’ve come across when I talk to people about singing are:
Singing doesn’t come naturally to me
I wish I could sing (others may have that gift, but I don’t)
I don’t sing with others, because I’m afraid to sing out of tune
I can’t sing

Have a look at your beliefs. Do you have a good relationship with your voice? What thoughts and feelings come up?
What were your surroundings telling you about your voice as you were growing up?
Can you think of more nourishing thoughts today that will encourage you to sing?

Whatever your story is, know that negative beliefs are rarely true. Anyone can learn how to sing, just like anyone can learn to dance or draw.

I hereby encourage you to give it a go. You want to sing, otherwise you wouldn’t have found me. Affirmations are all about clearing the the road blocks and replacing them with nourishing thoughts that create a fresh path – and a new reality. 

Clearing your old beliefs gives you space to take action – maybe you want to start taking singing lessons, maybe you will discover new songs that you really enjoy singing… Look out for the signs and go for it.

See if some of the affirmations below resonate with you or make your own (simply change your negative belief with a positive affirmation e.g. I can’t sing becomes I can sing).
Say the affirmation out loud every day, write it down in your diary or be bold and hang it on your wall, whisper it, think it, sing it… be creative!

I have a pleasant voice
I am free to sing what I like
I take good care of my voice
I communicate kindly and clearly
There are countless opportunities to sing in my everyday life
I sing with ease
I honour my voice
Singing is a natural way to express myself
I am grateful for my voice
I enjoy discovering new qualities in my voice
I sing because I love to sing
I bring joy around me when I sing
I’m healing when I sing
I sing with all of me
I feel safe singing with my natural voice
I love my voice

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

Learning to Accept Your Voice

Accept the sound of your voice.

In this blog, I’m exploring why so many of us find it awkward to hear a recording of our own voice. There are good reasons why it’s uncomfortable; it all has to do with sound vibrations and acceptance.

I used to dislike listening to a recording of my voice. I found it quite awkward, the feeling of wanting to just… hide a bit. Do you know that feeling?

If you do, you’re not the only one. Scientific studies have shown that a lot of people don’t like to hear a recording of their own voice because we hear our own voice differently to what it sounds like to other people.

When we listen to somebody else speaking, the sound waves make our ear drum and inner ear vibrate. These vibrations are converted into sounds in the brain.

But when we listen to our own voices, vibrations from deep in our own bodies, from our vocal chords and airways are present too. And all of that actually makes our own voices sound lower and more full to our own ears.
In other words, you are listening to the richest version of your voice!

That’s the physical side of things. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think it has everything to do with honouring our inner voice and appreciating the amazing channel of communication that the voice is.

It has to do with fully accepting ourselves.

And with that also comes getting over what we think other people think about us.
I got over it. Listening to many of my recorded singing lessons from my study time in Italy, the goal was to get wiser, not to judge how I sounded.

If you find it difficult to move towards an acceptance of “okay, I sound like that”, maybe your voice holds a lot more potential than you’re allowing it to unfold.

Inner and outer circumstances like your life situation, feelings and your view on yourself all affect the voice.

Some people feel anxious or stressed out. Some have a need to make themselves appear smaller than they really are. The result is a shaky, hard or small voice.

It’s time to think big! Not for anyone else’s sake. Just for you.
When you grow, the world grows.
Align your voice with yourself.
Get help if you need to, and know that everything is possible.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Jan Valle

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

Discovering Your Sound

Your authentic voice is gold.

Sound is an incredibly exciting area when it comes to singing. Especially these days where so many people think about how they sound, instead of honouring their authentic voices.
In this blog, I share the simple truth behind the concept of sound.

When you sing or speak, your vocal chords vibrate, your body resonates and voila, there is sound. What kind of sound you make depends on your body type (how your body is built) and how you’re using your voice, e. g. how much you’ve trained your voice and equally important, how you’ve trained your voice. That’s the physical side of things.

The mindset is another matter, and a big problem occurs when we try to imitate other people or get stuck in how a certain genre needs to sound; the unique and authentic voice goes out the window.
I’ll give you an example: Lots of pop singers today seem to think that you need to sound in a certain way to make it. The same goes for classical singers; a lot of them adapt an “opera sound” that has very little to do with what is the point of opera.
The end result is that a lot of the singers out there sound the same.

This approach then feeds into choirs and – worst of all – children, who are too often trained to sound in a certain way, or who think they need to imitate imitating singers…

Let’s get to the good news: Sound is the last thing you need to worry about. You actually don’t need to worry about it at all, because it’s for people who listen to you to figure out wheather they enjoy your singing or not.

All you need to focus on is your expression. Go for expression, not sound, and you’ll stay more authentic and grounded.

Please take a moment to consider it. Sound is driven by our ego. Expression is what matters. Stay strong and stay with your voice. It’s beautiful, I know. How? Because I’ve never come across anything less than a lovely voice as a voice teacher. I work with the core of the voice, and it’s always beautiful.

When your voice is in balance, you can communicate easily in an authentic way. It will also sound good, but that’s just a bonus. And what is more, the way you sound will change.

It’s quite wonderful that the core of your voice will stay the same, but the sound will evolve and grow as you grow.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Jean Balzan

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts on singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

Thanks for subscribing. The Singing Naturally newsletter will arrive in your inbox the first Friday of the month. Please ad singingnaturally@outlook.com to your contacts.

Your Voice is Unique

Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint.

Your voice is like a fingerprint: Unique. So how do you know what you sound like? Get some tips in this blog.

It’s easy enough to sound like someone else when you sing. Humans have, like birds, an amazing ability to imitate sounds.
But what really fascinates me is when people sing like themselves. That’s what I love about being a voice teacher; when I help a student discover the core of his/her voice. It’s authentic, true and real. And incredibly beautiful.

That’s where the quality lies.

Maybe it sounds like certain genres have a certain sound. That generally speaking, pop singers sound in a certain way and opera singers sound in another way.

Opera singing doesn’t actually have a particular sound. It’s just that most opera music calls for a greater depth in words and emotions. So it’s completely up to the singer’s musical interpretation what he/she does with the colours of a music piece. That aspect of singing comes from within and doesn’t have anything to do with sounding in a certain way.

Thankfully, there are and have been plenty of good singers out there who sound like themselves! They are the ones whose voices you recognise immediately. Their authenticity travels beyond time, countries and cultures.
All you need to do is close your eyes and have a listen to Pavarotti’s Che gelida manina or Billie Holiday’s I’ll be seeing you – and they bring you right into the message of the song.

Now it’s your turn to sing like only you can! It takes practise and above all courage, but it’s an incredibly rewarding process.

6 ways to know you’re true to your voice:

  1. You sing like you speak.
    There is a clear connection between your speaking voice and your singing voice.
    In other words, you can recognise your speaking voice when you sing.
  2. Your words are clear.
    It’s easy for listeners to understand the words you sing. You’re focusing on communicating the song’s message – not the sound of your voice.
  3. Singing feels good.
    It feels effortless in the throat when you sing, and you don’t get hoarse or sore when you use your voice.
  4. All tones are free.
    Wheather you sing high or low tones, they are all free and easy. Your voice is consistent and it’s not breaking.
  5. Singing is easy.
    You’re keeping it simple and letting your body do the work it needs to do to support your voice. Singing is physical, and it should always be easy.
  6. You’re listening to your body.
    You’re gently easing your voice into singing and respecting what your voice is ready for on the day.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Lum3n

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts for singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

Thank you. The Singing Naturally newsletter will arrive in your inbox the first Friday of every month. Please add singingnaturally@outlook.com to your contacts.

Use Singing to Soothe Anxiety

Singing can soothe anxiety and other negative emotions.

With so much going on in the world these months, no wonder that some of us feel a bit anxious at times. Here’s how to use your voice to shift from a state of worry, anxiety or fear to feeling calm and content.

When old fears make a come-back

So there I was. Leaving Ireland in a storm on a turbulent airplane. My three year-old son – who was well used to travelling – got scared. He was afraid that the airplane would fall down. My old fear of flying popped up again, and while I calmed down my son, my heart was beating fast. “Airplanes are just like birds,” I explained. “They don’t fall down.”
Off he went to sleep, and I had a moment to reconnect and calm my whole system down…

At that moment, I learned something interesting that deepened my understanding of singing and the power it holds.

Here’s the gold: When you inhale, you give energy to your body. When you exhale, you relax your body. That means that you can relax your body and mind by exhaling slowly.
And that’s exactly what you do when you sing.

The starting point

The first key to effectively deal with your emotions and empower yourself is to understand your starting point.
How is your state of mind?
Are you feeling anxious, sad, energetic, creative, at peace, content or happy?
Perhaps you’ve been on alert mode for too long or maybe you’ve been doing for a long time, and now you need a break from all the action.
Either way, it’s vital for feeling well and happy that you give yourself some time to just be. When you tap into the state of being, feeling whole, content and connected with other people will come naturally.
Being means that you are connected to your heart, and thus fear, anxiety and other negative emotions naturally fall away.

Sing yourself calm

Now back to the airplane, the anxiety and the singing!
As soon as I got a moment, I started breathing in more slowly and exhaling slowly. The only issue was that it just took the worst out of the situation, but it didn’t make me much calmer. So I started humming.
And at that moment it dawned on me that singing is the most brilliant tool in the world when it comes to feeling good because you work with the exhalation.
Singing simply calms down the whole body and gets the endorphins going.

I sat there singing a couple of my favorite Vaccai exercises and within about 5 minutes, my anxiety had gone down from 8 to 2 – to disappear altogether.
It is superior to anything I’ve tried before, because the tone vibration is good for the body and the fact that you’re singing a melody gets the mind to focus and come back on track. Back to the now.

I highly encourage you to try singing the next time you feel worried or anxious and see for yourself what a difference it makes.

Exercises for calming down

  • Breathe in while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Breathe out while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Lengthen your breath a bit, especially the exhalation.
    If it feels right for you, imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling golden white light.
    Continue breathing like this for about 5 minutes, and see if you notice any difference.
  • Breathe as you would normally, or if you’re anxious, start from where you are.
    Start humming. Don’t think about breathing in, your body will take care of that automatically.
    You can hum any song that comes to your mind, but if you experience anxiety in particular situations (e. g. in a waiting room or on an airplane), you can have a couple of songs ready to go. You may need to search for some music that speaks to your heart.
    Keep humming until you feel calm and settled.
  • If you’re looking for zen, sit down in an undisturbed place and do the tone meditation

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Ben Cheung

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

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