Don’t Apologize…

I participated in a performance workshop for my vocal students and I think I learned more than the students did – through witnessing their growth and willingness to work on their songs in front of their peers. There were a lot of breakthroughs and work done for the upcoming busy festival, recital and audition season. I learned so much from collaborating with colleagues – for my own work in my life and in my career teaching voice. There were two stand out pieces for me from this workshop:

#1. Don’t apologize for doing what you want
#2 Don’t look to others for approval when you do what you want.


These two pieces came about through the vulnerability that we feel as performers on stage, and how we try to protect ourselves if we make a mistake. We want to apologize – with body language or with a head shake – just so everyone else knows WE KNOW it happened. Then we usually look around to see if anyone else noticed. (for approval).

I witnessed some powerful young women stand up and share something that is so dear to them – a passion that has been ignited and week after week reinforced with technique, dedication and practice. By the end of each adjudication, they were empowered and ON FIRE! I’ve never been so inspired by my students!

I had an “ah ha” moment when I realized that very afternoon that it’s completely yoga. Every bit of it. Life, love, friends, career, and communication. My work with my voice students includes; Breath, body awareness (I have my students stand in Tadasana when they sing), and focus – how does that NOT relate to the yoga mat? When I took the YTT program last year with Sherry and Coeli, I wanted to learn how to teach yoga – which I did, but 10 times more important to me; I now use the same skills in my voice studio.

yoga music

I ask daily of my vocal students: “What do you want?”

Nine times out of ten they always say

“I want to feel free when I sing”

“What’s holding you back?”


“Are you capable?”

“… yes”

I equate this to my yoga practice. What do I want? To do a headstand. What is holding me back? Fear. Am I capable? Yes. (and when I finally did one, I cried, squealed and felt empowered)

I also equate this to my career as a voice coach. For the last 10 years I have had the desire to open my own voice teaching facility, but I’ve stopped at the planning stage because of the discomfort of moving forward and leaving the place I’ve been teaching for years, the fear of leaving a “safety zone” and the parameters that I long ago set for myself. I have disallowed myself happiness and to get out of my career what I truly want, because I am afraid. Of what? Making a mistake? Upsetting my current employers? Hmmm…

#1 Don’t apologize for doing what you want.
#2 Don’t look to others for approval when you do what you want.

I finally opened Nusong Studio this past February. “Just to see”, because “I wasn’t ready to jump in yet” – at first I had 3 students sign up, I was stoked, inspired!! Then there was a slow period, where I wasn’t getting any new students. I started to panic, went back to that place of fear, self doubt and approval seeking. “Maybe I should just be happy with what I have now? Why bother going after this dream?” My husband and I had a conversation about it one day as he had noticed my distress – when I told him my fears, he said something very poignant to me. “You can squeeze something so tightly that it will slip through your fingers.” … hmmm

#1 Don’t apologize for doing what you want.
#2 Don’t look to others for approval when you do what you want.

I liken my hubby’s adage to “allowing the universe to take care of you” “trusting that it will all work out” – when I loosened the grip, the inquiries started pouring in – I now have 12 students signed up for lessons and I LOVE THIS WORK! I am creating my career, the one I have always wanted.

I don’t apologize for doing what I want to
I don’t look to others for approval now that I am doing what I want.

It’s all yoga. Every bit of it. Headstands and High C’s!!!


Elise Besler-Harnish

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