Consider the shocking possibility of improving the sound of your voice and coming face to face with your inner self at the same time. Sufi Masters and Rock Stars have been attempting this for years, with quite varying degrees of success.

I can’t remember when or why I ever stopped singing. I was told I had a pretty voice, but as I grew older there was something vital missing that blocked my motivation. I just couldn’t think of myself as a singer.

Now I know that what was “missing” for me was the ability to accept and express my true self and the wide range of my authentic emotions. As I joined the “real world,” I adopted such a high set of standards (out of fear) that my own natural joy and creative gifts were smothered.

It was about six months ago that I first heard about something called “The Natural Singer Workshop,” led by Claude Stein. What I experienced was a very specialized and humanistic form of acting and vocal technique, and a means to allow the voice to express the colors of the spirit.

Claude explained at the outset that we would each have a “breakthrough.” I briefly wondered if maybe I wasn’t about to wander into an EST session with a piano bar. Likewise did I tremble at the ideal of a 10 (count ’em, 10!) hour workshop of any kind. My eyes watered at the thought of “now open your throat and make pear-shaped tones” and “let’s all be bacon frying in a pan” for a full half-turn of the earth.

The day started at 10 a.m. I was, quite frankly, fascinated with what was happening around me. Claude showed us some basic acting techniques which had a purely magical effect – not just in enhancing each person’s own style – but in bringing out the soulfullness that make a performance riveting. Even the beginners found a way to create touching performances. It seemed that the less we paid attention to “sounding good,” the better the result! Without judgment, our own natural voices sprang forth with remarkable beauty. Interestingly, it seemed as if the parts ourselves that were the most difficult to express actually had the greatest positive effect on others!

And, indeed, each performer had a “breakthrough” that day. The southern crooner worked through his old habits to discover a slick, hard-as-nails rock and roll sound. The young R&B singer broke through her shyness as she unveiled some dance moves that would inspire Madonna. The actress put aside her professional “mask” and brought the room to tears.

And me? I found myself in the middle of my song, hearing tones come out of my throat that I hadn’t heard in years. And as far as I’m concerned, that made the whole day worthwhile. And I never even had to try to be “bacon frying in a pan.”

Susan Bachner is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and playwright. She is currently writing music and recording her own songs.