Do you experience the fear of singing in public? Are you afraid to sing? Do you have stage fright?
You Are Not Alone
I truly believe that every singer (and I mean 100% of singers) can relate to this topic. Of course, the amount of fear differs based on age, experience, personality, perceived talent and other factors. Some singers look fearless when stepping up on the stage; some aspiring singers dare to sing only in the shower. However, even famous singers and artists experience some level of uneasy feelings about their performance. For example, John Bon Jovi said in an interview that he experienced performance anxiety before every performance. You are not alone. It does not matter if you are a new singer or a professional – we all experience some level of fear of singing.
Why Are We Afraid to Sing?
These are some of the thoughts that may go through your head before or while you sing:
- I am not confident in my singing.
- I am not a good singer.
- I don’t know how to sing.
- I can’t carry a tune!
- What if everyone hates me?
- What if I cannot hit the high note?
- What if I forget lyrics?
- What if my voice cracks?
- What if I sing off tune?
- What if I make a fool of myself?
- What if …?
Are any of these familiar? They sound awfully familiar to me! All throughout my life, singing was not something I would get praised for. My parents are kind people and they never criticized my singing. But they also did not get too excited about it so I never felt proud of my vocal abilities. My (very talented) son, being an honest 10 year old child, also gives me lukewarm appraisals of my singing. But then, he gives the thumbs up only to his vocal teacher.
I have also heard many stories about mean teachers and parents who loudly belittled their students or children for singing. I cannot imagine the thoughts rushing through their heads. And I also met people who were told by others not to sing. Imagine …
I believe there are two main reasons why we are afraid to sing. Judgement and misperceptions of what is good singing. Just look at some reality shows in which entertainment relies on harshly criticizing or even humiliating one’s vocal abilities. Then, there are studio recordings of great singers and performers that seem out of this world – and they are because they are altered and enhanced by today’s technology. Nothing wrong with that. Just comparing your own voice to these great sounding performances can be intimidating.
How to Overcome Stage Fright?
Figure out why you are afraid to sing. When you know the whys, you can work on the hows. If you are afraid of not hitting the high notes, practice them or choose a song that is within your range. If you are afraid of being judged, find a friendly audience. If you feel you are not a good singer, practice more.
Tips to Overcome the Fear of Singing
Yes, practice makes perfect. It’s an old saying but it works beautifully. It worked for me. Prepare and prepare and prepare. By the time you stand on the stage, your performance will become a well-practiced routine that you can do in your sleep. But don’t forget that little imperfections make your performance believable and human. No-one wants to listen to singing robots.
Every time you practice your song again and again, you may discover more about yourself, your voice and body. If you know your body well, then there is a lesser chance of unexpected surprises when singing in front of people.
Join a group of singers.
With the increasing trend of singing, there are many choirs – at school, at church or at a local community centre. Join like-minded people who love to sing. You are not in the spotlight when you sing with others and this is a good way to get used to singing in front of other people.
Sing for people. Start with friends and family. They are your biggest fans. They want you to succeed. Once you feel comfortable in front of familiar people, sing for strangers or bigger audiences. Sing at church. Sing at a karaoke bar. Organize a street performance. On the other hand, there are people (like my son) who is less stressed about singing in front of unfamiliar people than in front of family members. We are all different. The key is to know what works for you.
Record yourself on a regular basis.
Learn from listening to your own singing or ask for feedback to see where you are at and what you need to work on.
Most of us hate listening to our own voices.
Yes, we sound differently when recorded.
Accept the feedback as a way to grow and improve. Use the feedback constructively not destructively.
Choose easy songs to start your performance.
Choose songs that are within your range and showcase your vocal abilities. Win some fans with a solid initial performance. Once the audience loves you, they will be more forgiving if you make a few mistakes in more challenging songs. (Here are some suggestions for easy songs.)
Forget about your “what ifs” and go for it! This one is easy to write and harder to do. But it definitely worked for me. I believe that letting go is what made it for me. I realized that nothing (absolutely nothing!) will happen if I do not sing perfectly. Go for it! Experiment! The feeling is absolutely amazing! Try improvisation in singing. It is elevating and it is a good way to learn to let go.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
If you see your singing performance as a matter of life and death, then you naturally create tension and pressure. Have fun with your songs. Entertain your audience and enjoy the process. If you are worried about being judged, don’t look at your singing as a performance but more as a message. What are you trying to communicate to your audience? What do you want to tell them?
See yourself succeeding.
I practice this one every day and not only in singing. I believe and teach self-fulfilling prophecy at home and at work. If you believe that you can succeed, you will. Yes, it sounds funny but it works. Tell yourself something positive over and over even if you don’t believe it initially. It creates an atmosphere in which it can become reality. Figure out what you want to change and become. Make your affirmations very specific and incorporate your fears into them. For example, if you are afraid of being judged by others, think of this: “I will allow people to have their opinions because they are trying to help me.” or, “I will accept other people’s judgement about my singing and I will learn from them.”
So be fearless and sing!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Share your stage fright tips or tips on how to deal with the fear of singing in public.