Overcome Your Fear of Singing
Whether you’re an experienced performer or a student in the midst of your first class, singing can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Working with students who are scared to sing has taught me a lot about the most common sources of this fear—and how to fight back against them.
Let’s talk about why you’re scared.
Your Elementary School Music Teacher Was A Monster
As a former elementary school music teacher, I’m appalled when I hear horror stories about mean teachers who told kids they shouldn’t sing or that they had bad voices. If your voice didn’t sound good in elementary school, it was your teacher’s fault, not yours. Don’t let someone who was failing at their job continue to influence you today.
Reality Shows Have Ruined You
We live in a culture that has spent the last ten years listening to mean British men tell talented, experienced singers that they’ll never be good enough. This makes people with totally normal-sounding voices feel like they should not sing for fear of being “pitchy” or “breathy” or “not having the X Factor.” You don’t have to have The Voice of an American Idol to sound great and have fun singing.
Your Pop Idols Are Robots
Cher and T-Pain have made us all painfully aware of how popular Auto-Tune is these days, but almost all recordings that are released today have tons of effects on the vocals. Some of today’s most popular “singers” lip synch their way through all of their shows and have their voices blended in with a group of backup singers on their albums. Don’t be intimidated by their voices; be intimidated by their ability to shoot whipped cream out of their bras.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge that society has needlessly caused you to feel bad about your voice, you’re ready to tackle your fear.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Let It Go (Let It Gooooo…)
Stop worrying about how good or how bad your voice sounds and focus on using it with confidence. Nobody will care that you don’t sound like Celine Dion if you are selling the shit out of your performance. In fact, I’d already prefer to listen to you.
Music Improv Is A Surprisingly Easy Place To Start
In music improv, you can sing about anything you want, any way you want, as any character you want. It’s impossible to make the wrong choice—unless you choose to not have the time of your life while doing it.
Practice @ Karaoke
Karaoke isn’t a high-stakes audition; it’s a chance for you to conquer your fear of singing aided by the Backstreet Boys and Miller Fortune. While you’re there, be part of the solution and help to create a supportive, fun environment free of Simon Cowell scowls. You’ll have way more fun if you cheer equally hard for everyone—from the old man belting Sinatra to the former elementary school music teacher failing to rap along with Shaggy. (It wasn’t me.)
Tara Trudel is a Music Director for The Second City Touring Company. She teaches in the Music Program in the Second City Training Center, and she is also an experienced vocal coach. You can catch her singing her heart out all summer in the UP Comedy Club in Second City’s Summer Blockbuster: Now in 4D.