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Let Your Voice Be Heard — Musings About Performance Anxiety

singer songwriterOne of the most beautiful aspects of singing is how it brings people together. Some students enroll in voice lessons for the sheer personal joy of it, but for most, lessons simply give students the means to share their voices in one way or another. To some, that means rocking out in a band; to others, it means taking a role in a musical; and to others, it means putting poetry to music and serenading the patrons of a coffee shop. There are just too many people out there who want to perform, but who can’t find the activation energy to overcome stage fright.

Voice lessons can only do so much to boost your confidence in performance situations. Think about it this way: singing your heart out to your teacher is like confiding your darkest secrets to your best friend. Does confiding in one person make you more likely to stand up on a table in a busy room and unleash your dirty laundry on a bunch of strangers? The initial fear that comes with performing is the fear of rejection, and your teacher and your best friend won’t reject you (unless you’re really just an awful person… which is unlikely).

Put yourself out on a limb, and it’s easier for other people to aim stones at you. You understand that vulnerability implicitly, and unfortunately, the only way to overcome that feeling is to grit your teeth and put yourself out on that limb. I promise, the benefits of sharing your art, and inspiring even ONE person, far outweigh the risks of facing ridicule by a bunch of people you don’t know or care about.

If you want to share your music, or pursue any kind of passion, you need to develop a thick skin, and the earlier, the better. There’s no better way to improve than to learn from your mistakes. It’s ingrained in most of us from a young age that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. That makes so many of us complacent, delicate, and unwilling to take risks and improve.

My advice for you is to step outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to nosedive onto the stage of Carnegie Hall, but push yourself to take on an activity that makes you want to cross your arms a little too tightly. A great place to start is by performing in an open mic night. If you’re unsure how to go about preparing and signing up for one, I’m going to write a short guide on how to navigate them, along with a short directory of open mic nights in Orange County.

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