Audrey Hunt, renowned vocal coach, encourages us to embrace our singing no matter how we sound. Remember to warm up first.
You love to sing and are about to share the sound of your singing voice by performing in front of other people. As you take your rightful place on stage, your mouth begins to feel dry, your heart beats faster, and you can’t control the shaking in your knees. Suddenly, your mind has become completely blank.
As you face your audience and begin your solo, your voice takes on a shaky sound, instead of a controlled one and you want to run and hide somewhere. What is going on, what is happening? Hello, fear. You’re not welcome here.
Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What We Fear—The Unknown
Learning to overcome fear of the unknown is an ongoing journey, and one that’s worth working toward if we want to live life to the fullest. Singers constantly face the unknown when performing for new audiences in different venues for different reasons.
Fear cripples and stifles us preventing us from becoming the best version of ourselves.
The thing is, fear of the unknown is based on our own self-limiting beliefs, which is why it’s important to build our self-confidence. Since knowledge feeds our level of confidence, it helps to study all we can about our craft. One of the best ways to do this is to continue taking vocal lessons.
Private vocal lessons with a qualified, sensitive, vocal teacher is mandatory for stretching our ability to face the unknown, as we slowly but surely, lift our confidence to new heights.
Singing lessons aren’t just for beginning voices but for all levels of singing. This includes professional vocalists too.
To help in overcoming fear we must be willing to step out of our comfort zone, and grab any opportunity available to test our wings.
We tend to fear the following:
- Being evaluated negatively.
- A repeat of a bad past experience.
- Messing up (forgetting lyrics or missing a high note).
The more we know and learn about the voice, (or any craft), the less old Mr. Anxiety can hold us a prisoner.
Say Goodbye to Fear
Fear prevents us from moving forward. Preparation helps to keep fear at bay. For vocalists, this is the number one factor for singing without fear. What, exactly, does this involve?
- Memorize your material. Know every detail of your song: lyrics, melody, rhythm, dynamics, phrasing, style and interpretation.
- Begin working on your selection months before the performance date. Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Practice regularly with and without distractions. You never know what might happen right in the middle of your solo. An unhappy baby, late-comers walking in, unexpected noises, can all be a distraction to the singer. Be prepared to sing through any type of disruption regardless of what it is.
- If you’re new to singing for an audience, find opportunities to perform for others, long before your scheduled solo.
- Schedule regular practice sessions with whoever is accompanying you. Whether it’s a band, guitarist, pianist, or background recording. This will assure you a smooth and successful performance.
The better prepared you are the more control you have over the situation which will help to reduce or alleviate fear.
Prepare Your Music to Eradicate Fear
Symptoms of Fear
A few symptoms of anxiety and fear:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling extreme pressure
- Body shaking (hands and knees)
- Butterflies in the stomach
Everybody feels fear-it’s one of the most primitive emotions. The brain is an incredible and complex organ. Fear is a chain reaction that begins with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol that cause physical symptoms including a racing heart, shortness of breath, and chest tightness among others.
Combat Anxiety With Knowledge
Paralyzed With Fear?
We’ve all experienced the feeling of being paralyzed with fear. It’s no fun. We tell ourselves we’ll avoid any action that may set us up for this scary feeling. “I’ll never do that again”, is a familiar phrase for most of us. But what might we be missing with an attitude such as this? The plight of this vague form of paralysis relates to our own mind’s interpretations of events and traumas.
Fear can prevent us from becoming all that we can be. Start now to face your fears. The best way to do this is with knowledge. Emerson believed, “The antidote to fear is knowledge.” It’s fear of the unknown that causes us to fear in the first place.
Fear stunts our growth and stands in our way to some marvelous experiences. It doesn’t care who it affects and we all grab hold at one time or another.
Fear is a Cruel Thief Who Robs Us of Success
8 Important Tips to Reduce or Eliminate Fear
Emerson said “Knowledge is the antidote to fear.” But it isn’t enough to merely understand the laws of psychology regarding the reduction or elimination of fear. They must be practiced persistently to become effective.
By following the rules, you can expect some good results:
- Adopt an optimistic “I can” attitude. Those who think they can’t are generally right.
- Realize that fear exists only in the imagination. What we don’t understand, we fear. This is why knowledge is important.
- Concentrate on the interpretation and meaning of the song. There will be no room left for self-consciousness. But don’t become so overemotional that you destroy vocal technique. Sing publicly as often as you can to help reduce fear.
- Preparation has been proven to reduce fear. Know your music well and rehearse regularly to be sure of your routine. Know what you want the song to say musically. Practice with your accompaniment or band. Even experienced singers cannot expect to be fully at ease in the singing of a song until they have had plenty of practice with an accompanist.
- Build more than an adequate technique for the demands of public singing. Always have a reserve of technique in order to establish confidence. Never attempt to sing songs publicly that involve notes in the very extreme of your practice range.
- Psychologists tell us that if you force yourself to go through the motions of bravery you will be brave. So, walk on stage calmly and naturally. Look at your audience and give them a chance to look you over too before you begin singing.
- If you are tense or frightened, breathe deeply several times and relax your body before attempting to sing. Nervous disorders are due to oxygen starvation. So take time to breathe deeply by using the diaphragmatic muscle (belly breath).
- Help conquer fear through experience in related fields such as drama, speech, debate, choir or any activity which provides an opportunity for self-expression and appearance before the public.
When we experience failure, we can use these setbacks as experiences to draw lessons from. We can learn from our mistakes and upsets. These are opportunities to grow and develop our craft in a whole new way.
Ego Versus Confidence
The successful singer must have an assured personality, a realistic ego based upon self-control and justified self-confidence. Do not mistake this confidence for egotism. The egotist is only thinking about himself and brags about his superiority over others.
But the confident singer has justified self-assurance because of previous experience, adequate preparation, and good hard work.
Using Visualization to Overcome Fear
Visualization is a powerful source for helping to overcome fear. It allows us to see our goal as already complete in our mind’s eye. One of the fastest ways to tap the great power of your mind is through your imagination. Take time to practice the following each day:
- See yourself, on stage, speaking or singing to a friendly audience. All fear and anxiety are replaced with inner confidence.
- Visualize yourself “owning” the performance area. The audience is your invited guests, sitting in your living room.
- Whatever your fear is, imagine that you, alone, are in complete control of the situation.
- Actually, visualize yourself making mistakes and don’t be afraid to make them. Even Thomas Edison made many mistakes on the road to his inventions and ultimately, success.
- See yourself singing your song, freely, without worry or concern. Fill your entire being with a feeling of accomplishment and joy.
- Celebrate your achievements. Reflect on a completed task or objective which can be empowering. Even small rewards count. Be fully present and enjoy the success.
You can break free of fear by challenging the negative voices in your head. Be fearless and learn to live life to the fullest.
Face Your Fear
Is All Fear Bad?
Everyone has fears, what matters is how you handle them. To free yourself from panic, you have to abandon your sense of reason and just let the anxiety come without trying to fight it.
- Expose yourself to that which you fear gradually. When you do this enough, that which you fear becomes natural which helps to conquer that particular fear. Relax and accept that the temporary feelings will pass in due course.
- And stop believing this fear as it’s nothing more than a feeling . Just ignore it and learn to de-dramatize the situation.
- Avoid judging your fear. This is a feeling and feelings are neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Fear heightens your senses so that you have the ability to perform efficiently and powerfully. Choose to view fear as an ally, let its power course through your veins, and take on the challenge of tolerating fear and not running away from it.
Once you face your fear of public performing and end with an outstanding result, you will experience less fear next time. So make it a habit to face your fear of singing in front of others by doing it again and again and again.
Schedule Regular Rehearsals Before Performing
To free yourself from panic, you must abandon your sense of reason and let the anxiety come without trying to fight it. Relax and accept that the temporary feelings will pass in due course. Stop believing this fear;it’s nothing more than a feeling, a chemical reaction in your head.
Just ignore it and learn to de-dramatize the situation. The experience is never as bad as what you build up in your mind.
Singing is a natural artistic expression. In fact, infants make recognizable intervals or tunes before they are able to speak. They do this freely, without fear or judgement.
To get the greatest pleasure from singing, eliminate inhibitions, singing freely and expressively. Everyone carries the instrument within the body to do this. No matter how we sound we must let ourselves sing freely and naturally.
Singing is not a God-given talent bestowed upon a limited favored few. Everyone that can speak can sing. After all, singing is an extension of the speaking voice. Even the smallest and most hopeless sounding voice sometimes becomes a very capable instrument.
The degree of improvement depends on the desire, determination and discipline of the person. Nearly everyone can become a competent singer, a considerable number can become fine artists, and a few can become supremely great.
So, silence your inner critic, and turn your negative, fearful thoughts into positive ones. What do you have an appetite for? Don’t allow fear to stop you.
You will learn how to overcome fear through communicating with your audience as you focus on the lyrics of the song. You can’t concentrate on two things at the same time. When you direct all of your attention to the words and interpretation you will not be able to worry about your voice and what your audience thinks about your singing.
You have a song deep within you. What is your message? Sing your song with passion and conviction. Say goodbye to fear and hello to freedom.