Overcoming Fear, Dislike of Practicing, and Jealousy...
We singers must meet many challenges in our artistic work - overcoming fear of various kinds, is one of them:
1. Fear of what others will say about our desire to sing
2. Fear of not being good enough, once we do get started
3. Fear of singing in front of an audience (especially for members of our familes)
4. Fear of shame & failure in a public forum (rehearsal, concert, TV show, etc)
Overcoming these kinds of fears takes some kindness and patience with one's self. It also takes the experience of doing things again and again... (Find links to more information below..)
While an exploration of each of these issues could take a book. (Here is my latest Guide Book on Stage Fright). As a start, today I have 3 simple suggestions for you:
1. Take small steps. You do not have to dive into anything. Dip your toe gently in the singing waters - whether it be singing in public or announcing to your family that singing is what you want to do. Take it bit by bit. Let the courage grow as you grow into your chosen art.
2. Know that you are not alone. - Many performers (maybe, most of us), NEVER lose that feeling of nervousness & fear before a performance. What we do realize, over time and after many peformances - is that we will do a good performance even if we are feeling fear and anxiety. As you improve as a performer (or as a choral singer), you may still feel the fear - but you will know that you can still function.
3. You do not have to be perfect to be appreciated. But you do need to have something authentic to offer. Work on your self, as you work on your art. For example: Choose songs that speak to your beliefs. Choose to sing in a choir that sings music that you connect with... Read good books. See good art. Educate your soul.
All of this will be well worth the effort (if you really love to sing) when you can walk on to the stage, or into a choir rehearsal room, or up to a jury etc. and truly feel that you are worthy of being there. "Here is how I sound today. I have prepared. I will give you my best - for today..."
Here are a few more resources (overcoming fear) for those common problems in a singer's life that we all face at one time or another:
THE DISLIKE OF PRACTICING
Some singers also have a hard time with practicing. And the crazy thing is that often we will do almost anything else to avoid having to work at the thing that we LOVE to do!
Suddenly the laundry needs to be done. Or we have a bunch of phone calls to make. Or something on the internet grabs our attention. And voila! our practice time is gone until next time...
This behavior is not unusual. So relax, if you think you are alone with it.
I think that most of us love the feeling of singing songs, but the idea of having to work at "building" a voice and musical expertise that will help us to sing those songs better and better - is often not what greases our emotional or creative wheels.
Yet, most of us MUST practice. So what is the answer?
Here is one suggestion... I use this one myself when I am not "in the mood" to practice:
- Think small. -
Commit yourself to five minutes of practice. If that is too much, commit yourself to 2 minutes of work - whatever singing "work" means to you: warming up your voice; learning a choral song etc...
For me, practice usually means that I go and sit at the piano. If there is a song that I really like to sing, I may sing a few measures of it to enjoy my entry into practice. Then I will do a couple of the vocalizes that I use to start my warm up. Five minutes are gone. And if I am getting into the mood, then I commit to five more minutes of warm ups... etc.
I find that this is the easiest way to "baby" myself into the aspects of singing that take focus and concentration: Little by little. Then, often the flow of interest will take over and practice becomes a greater pleasure. I begin to feel that I am working toward an end result that is both exciting and fulfilling. AND, I am allowing myself to enjoy the process.
Calming the feelings of Jealousy has a lot in common with overcoming fear. In this case, we suffer from the fear that others have things that WE want and need. (A better voice, greater success, a more helpful family, more access to funding, more time, better health etc).
Jealousy is a feeling that most of us, at least some of the time, will have to deal with.
As a young singer, I often felt that there were other singers who had "it" much better than I did. Perhaps their voice worked more easily. Or they were given the solos that I may have wanted. Or they had more time to practice, when I had to go to work to make money in order to pay for lessons. Maybe they had spectacular high notes. Maybe they were extremely beautiful. And on and on... (There are many and endless reasons to feel jealous.)
OVERCOMING FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH
Looking back, I realize that you never know what is REALLY going on in another person's life. While some very successful-seeming singers from my early days went on to do well in the singing world, most did not.
Their lives changed. Their dreams changed. In spite of great talent, the desire to sing took a back seat. They drifted into other worlds that gave them other kinds of happiness.
I kept singing and performing and recording over the years. And looking back, I realize that the energy I put into envying others, was lost time.
You can only be you. You can only do your best. When jealously gets you into a black mood, do something to improve your abilities. Take your attention off another person's life (which is never what it seems) and concentrate on improving your own glorious possibilities.
Overcoming fear in an artistic life takes patience, kindness and time. Take a deep breath, forgive yourself and go on.