After a month of private singing lessons and facing my fear of singing in front of people, here’s what I’ve learned from the experience….
If Your Fear Won’t Kill You, Do It – Most of us have a “biggest fear in life” that’s really just one of many types of fears. We all have a fear that we could die from (like my totally rational fear of swimming in the ocean because a shark could eat me up) and we have fears that probably won’t take our lives but feel like they’re killing us because of embarrassment (public speaking is found to be people’s #1 fear). My #1 fear in the category of things that I’d die of embarrassment from is singing in front of people. I’ve learned this month that if a shark won’t kill you and eat you for dinner then you should go ahead face your fears. You will survive and see how much you’ve been missing out on.
Disconnect and Wear Normal Clothes – The best part of private singing lessons was doing something that wasn’t related to work or working out – the two things that take up so much time and energy in my life. What a relief to do something that didn’t require email or wondering if my stomach is or isn’t flat. I would recommend trying music lessons just simply for this reason. Even if you never perform anywhere, it’s nice to just have an activity that can take your stress away.
No One is a Perfect Singer – After listening to people sing more closely this month, no one is perfect. Beyonce…maybe…but she’s not even human, really. You don’t have to be perfect to sing.
Warm Up – There’s something to vocal warm-ups. You wouldn’t run a race without stretching out, or lift weights without a warm up, or dance without a few twists and kicks, so you should treat your voice the same way and warm up even if you feel dumb.
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Musician Friends Closer – Having musician friends is awesome. Music/singing is something you can do your whole life. There’s no age limit on music. When I was recording the song I eventually posted on YouTube/this blog, Angela played keyboard and her husband, Joe, played cello behind me. I felt so supported. I mean, I’m not a professional musician or singer, but in that moment, I felt like we were a little…..group….clique….support system. Hearing your friends make music behind you while you stand in fear singing your little heart out makes for a magical little moment. Make friends with musicians and magic things can happen.
Reading Music is Like a Secret Lingo – Reading music is cool. I only learned the basics this month with the time I spent in the computer lab at the music school, but every time I look at sheets of music now I think “this is so cool, it’s like a secret language.” Music sheets are beautiful and I secretly think it’s awesome when I see Angela mark special little notes on music sheets like fancy musicians do. Insert cliche but true phrase: I only wish I would’ve learned to read music sooner.
Find Your Fans – I use humor often when I’m uncomfortable. I made 5 billion jokes about getting a record label or singing like a Real Housewife to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of worrying if everyone was making fun of me. Like all the other goals this year, people really step up and support you. I received so many encouraging notes and comments this month after I finally recorded myself singing. Even if people are laughing at you just a little bit…they typically do it behind your back, so you never really have to deal with it (that’s the saddest statement ever, but I’m convinced it’s true). But every time I try a new goal I am reminded that I really do have a great support system and those people carry me through every single time!
Listen – If you want to be a good singer, you have to be a good listener. So much of my formal singing lessons or my “YouTube self study” lessons were about listening. Listening to the notes, listening to the teacher, listening to yourself, listening to feedback. Sometimes when we’re super nervous we don’t want to listen. We fill the silence with self talk like ‘Oh my God, what am I doing? That sounded horrible. They are perfect and I suck’ but with music lessons you really have to slow down and push that out, there’s no time for the negative self talk and listening to all the other things you have to listen to at the same time.
Sing With Your Kids – When I was explaining my fear of singing to Angela early in the month, she was not surprised and summed it up pretty well. She says that if you don’t grow up in a household that sings, then of course you’ll feel uncomfortable singing in front of others. I started testing this theory out (even though she has a doctoral degree in music so I believed her) and everyone I spoke to about my goal who actually does sing normally threw in a story about how their mom used to always sing, or they grew up in a household that sings, or I would leave the conversation with an image of them with their giant family gathered around a fire with a guitar singing songs all night. (Same goes with reading too, I’m convinced. My friend Molly grew up with her parents reading a ton and she can crank through books that would take me 10 years to finish). Anyway, if you have kids and don’t want them to be blogging about facing their fear of singing when they’re 33…get your guitar and s’mores out.
Praise The Lord – If you’re learning to sing, I’d recommend practicing a praise/worship song. It’s much more fulfilling on many levels. Plus, the Lord created our voices and delights in us. You can’t go wrong.
I did it!