Saturday, December 3, 2011

To Learn To Sing, You Must Expose Yourself to Ridicule

Learning to sing is a lot like learning public speaking.  Most people are terrified of doing either before an audience.  However, practice and experience are the only route to your goal, and so you must be willing to expose yourself to criticism.  The ridicule you fear is largely imaginary.

I received this note from a friend who actually has a nice singing voice, but doesn't realize it.  He writes:
You see, I am very self conscious and really hate hearing the sound of my own voice.  To me everybody else (you included) sound better to me. I am happy to do BV [backing vocals] and stay in my comfort zone.
Here's my reply to him:
It’s good to know that I am not the only self-doubting, self-conscious beginning singer!! They say everyone is their own worst critic; we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on other people.

You have a good voice, far better than most who sing with bands.

When I listen to myself, I hear a hillbilly from the Ozarks wearing overalls, smoking a corn-cob pipe and carrying a jug of moonshine. Even when people say that they like it, I suspect they are secretly retching into the nearest potted plant. However, I won’t quit until I get it right. (I won’t quit even then.)

One thing I have learned is this: if you want to be a singer, you have to drop your drawers and moon the world, and do it without embarrassment. You have to be willing to screw up, to blow it, to make a fool of yourself, to expose your precious ego to ridicule, and let the chips fall where they may. For years I resisted any attempt to sing with bands, because I was protecting my ego. Now my attitude is, hey, throw tomatoes if you must, but I am trying to get better, and you can only do that by effort. Learning to sing well requires practice, time and effort, and a lot of experimentation to learn what works and what doesn’t. Feedback from trusted friends is very important. You have to know if you are on the right track, and it is almost impossible to be objective yourself, concerning your own voice. Some people will be too self-critical, and others will be too self-delusional.

Trust your voice, trust your talent. Put it out there!! You are better than you think.

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