Participants' reports on their understanding and experience of the Giving Voice Process

“GV is holistic in itself but perhaps more importantly, being truly holistic, it can be integrated into other areas and disciplines - whether medical, spiritual or artistic.  It can meet us where we are, and take us to a new vision. … It's not feel-good nonsense:  it can be integrated with medical knowledge and is integral to a holistic approach.  It's a response to illness and is responsive to it”.

Mary Flatman, Nurse/Counsellor 2003

Participants saw ‘negative’ feelings in a constructive way.  For example, one person reported feeling a whole range of positive feelings “at different times and with different songs”, but also experienced “intense grief”.  “At first this was all surprising … but these experiences quickly became important and welcome”  (KARM Project 2002)

“I have had some success singing through some negative feelings”

One person’s diary entry during a course helps describe the process, as well as indicating their understanding of it:  “The song feels like huge crashing waves all around.  Initially I need to hold on and struggle to avoid drowning.  Slowly the waves become supportive and I realise I can swim” (KARM/cloverleaf 2002)

Perhaps paradoxically, although GV involves singing, it isn’t about singing.  It’s about connecting with Truth – with Love, with the Whole – through engaging with song.  As some young primary school children commented,

“it’s work - nice work”

“It’s also about love”

(Curbishley et al 2002)


Following a short session with some of the previously mentioned children, involving 4-part singing, harmoniously, ‘on the wing’ and without prior learning or rehearsal, the children were asked how they managed this.

They decided that co-operation and self-discipline were the reasons, and identified the following equation:

Co-operation  +  Self-discipline   =   F U N!

(Curbishley et al 2002)

Many of the children mentioned above also demonstrated a capacity to take responsibility for learning how to use GV in their lives.  A boy who chose to use song as a resource one night commented:


"it felt really weird"
"in what way?"
"well, I've never woken up like that before"
"well, I felt really good ..."                             (Curbishley et al 2002).

“I’m just starting to fully experience the meanings within the songs.” [residential participant 2004]

“(The course provided) proof that when there is a common purpose the sky is NOT the limit...!”  (Huddersfield Course 2001)

“Now I understand (how to use song to address pain). I know much more of what the process means. Now when songs come, the experience is much deeper, I’m much more conscious of (my role in the process)’s not just about vibration. It involves the willingness to experience.”  [residential participant 2004]

“[I try it] all the time.  It works really well most of the time … I’ve used most of the songs in various situations:  very useful/powerful”

“[The learning is]
ongoing as I integrate it”

“It requires commitment … and determination to explore all on offer”

“Need to be open and willing to have new experiences and to being an active participant i.e. take up what’s on offer (including when the going gets tough)”

“I had to make a commitment to do the work…I had to learn to trust”

“[I] gained and experienced understanding of being connected with Song.”

“How to find the desire to sing: once addressed I felt lifted and the voice was from within.”

“It really helps to stop and think about song, if only for a few minutes... (they are)useful at bedtime when everything spins in my head…(they) can bring peace and quiet, and so sleep.”

“Once, with a particular song, I found the experience quite disturbing initially – the immenseness, the depth, the power of feelings and how they changed their flavours from cold shivers as though someone ‘walked over my grave’, to tears welling up with the intense feeling of sadness, a smile and little bubbles of joy at the beauty, Stillness were all there.  The Stillness went very, very deep.  Yet somehow the song also offered comfort to know it was there to support me” (2009)

“[I’ve learnt that] the nature of spirituality is that it embraces everything, it involves everything. It is involved in the mind, the body and the emotions, it is not just another component.  That is why GV is a spiritual practice and why it is so holistic, because spirituality is holistic if you understand it properly.  So GV cannot help but address everything”. Rachel Healey, when in training as a GV teacher 2003

“This way of working feels so Direct and Uncluttered, a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’, an Invitation to Be – Ourselves, with Each other, In The World. The Essence of Enjoyment’ (Dossier 1996)

“GV is a ‘Key’ that unlocks and opens doors to the inner self.  It breaks through the energy field around you and sets up a resonance within your soul, showing you who you are and what you can do” (written after a ‘performance’ by JR – Dossier 1995)

“Yet more opening up to my own beauty;  more contact with things in me that I don’t need to hold onto any longer;  more awareness of my capacity to let go and move on;  more fully experiencing being the REAL me.  You’re an enabler extraordinaire!" (post-residential – Dossier 1994)

“GV enables me to connect with the songs - and therefore myself - in a way that is beyond consciousness.  They have an enduring quality.  They encompass universal facts, sacred laws if you like.  Singing them can take me into a state of being without thinking, letting the song emerge from me.  I want the sense of connection to other beings that came before me and will follow after me; I want the feeling of my bones having a simple, sacred knowing that will hold me.  I want to be me.  Regular GV helps me achieve this”. (Healey & Rakusen, 2000)

“I found a sense of community at the residential.  It wasn't to do with the particular individuals - most of them I never saw again. It was the most fun I'd had for ages. It now reminds me of someone in a Leeds Giving Voice evening saying at the end of one particularly awesome session:  “This is the most fun I’ve ever had singing” (and he has sung regularly, and often, in a number of groups over some years)”. (op cit)

Talking to Jill some years before she trained to be a GV teacher herself, Rachel Healey said, “The songs live in a part of me and singing new songs through GV has opened a door to that part of me.  It’s different from any other singing situation.  My trust in the process comes from witnessing your trust in it for yourself. You’re so open about this when you’re running a session: sharing how you use songs, working in the moment, not planning but having the tools to meet every eventuality." (as quoted in Healey and Rakusen, 2000)