Singing has been in my blood for as long as I can remember, as well as being very shy. And so, it took me a great while to cultivate the craft, let alone to be able to sing acapella in front of one person. Performing is a very vulnerable act, even for the best in the world, and taking that first step was probably the hardest looking back at it all.
As I took a moment to reflect on my personal musical history recently (school choir, exclusive chorale, honors choirs, musical productions, piano lessons and solo performances), I've realized that I have come a seriously far way since the girl who couldn't even sing to a person without a track blasting in the background. Of course, I do understand that I'm not the only one who ever went through this awful period of wanting to show the world what I had but being too petrified of the unknown- and the stage.
So for all my fellow singers out there who are too scared to admit they love to do more than just hum a tune, I'm dedicating this article to you. I'm offering my best tips to help you come out of your shell, because your stage is waiting for you out there somewhere; you just have to be brave enough to take that first step into the spotlight.
Practice until the song becomes a habit.
They all say "practice makes perfect," but that isn't all there is to it. The more you practice a song and memorize its lyrics, it will become a repetitive pattern that'll be so embedded in your brain that even when you're nervous, habit will not allow you to screw it up. Repetition will become a constant companion in your singing time, so don't mind it!
Slowly start performing in front of more people.
I remember being scared beyond belief of performing in front of others in the beginning, but the more I sang in front of others, the more confident I felt in my talent. Even if you definitely don't want to do it, push yourself to sing in front of anyone who is willing to listen and this will train your nerves to be even more calm moving forward.
Post a singing video, even if you hate it!
Not every talented singer shares their gift with the world on social media, and that's completely okay. But try to record yourself singing to listen back on in order for a self-critique session; and if it's that good, maybe even post it for the world to see! You never know who'll love it...
Go to karaoke or open-mic nights.
Like I said before, more practice is the key to getting better at singing for an audience and performing in general. Local coffee shops are known for hosting open-mic nights or talent showcases, and there are karaoke bars dedicated to the trade, so why not take up on the fun opportunity? Bring a friend and sing your heart out- and with no pressure (the best kind)!
Sing to the car radio ALL of the time.
This has been a habit of mine for as long as I can remember, and the same probably goes for many others. If you already possess this practice or not, make sure to sing to whatever tunes are playing not only to practice matching pitches but to get comfortable singing in front of people with another voice masking yours. Clever, huh?
Join a choir or audition for a musical!
Being part of a group of people who love doing what you love to do is not only comforting but the best feeling ever. Not only do you "find your people," but you'll be able to hone your craft with others rather than just by yourself. Plus, maybe you'll find a new aspect of singing you'll love!
Take up an instrument and learn how to read music.
From someone who learned how to play piano before properly singing, I have to say this helps immensely if when reading sheet music for choir, musical or auditions. This will help with all the technical/background aspects of singing down the line, like developing a good ear and memorizing how scales sound. It may seem intimidating and a lot of work at first, but it will definitely be worth it.
Consider taking singing lessons.
I used to believe that taking singing lessons was the worst idea ever because a voice teacher would only change my voice and make it sound like everyone else's- and this assumption was far from the truth. Singing lessons help make your unique voice even stronger and can offer one-on-one attention that isn't usually given in big groups such as choirs. Take it from a girl who started lessons less than a year ago and can tell you it was the best decision she's made so far- if you can afford it, definitely consider doing it.
Make a friend in music.
I do owe my earlier singing years to a friend that helped me come out of my shell, and sometimes we need that extra push to just do it. Whether it's a friend who is musically inclined or not, have someone to motivate you to do the seemingly scary- you're going to thank them for it one day.
Don't care about anyone else. Ever.
One of the biggest tribulations of being a performer is worrying about "the competition." Here's the thing: we are all here to do what we're passionate about and to have fun doing it. Why let the fear of other talented beings (who each have a completely different voice than you do, might I add) stop you from doing what no one else can match? Just. Do. The. Darn. Thing.