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Fears and not feeling like singing

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Hanalei
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I apologize if this isn't the right spot to post this - I honestly wasn't sure. I guess this is kind of psychological technique...?

1) How do you guys handle fear/stage fright? I've been taking lessons since around April (minus the last 2 months because of another important project), but the only people who have heard me sing are my mom, my brother, 2 voice coaches, and some of you on here and 2 other music forums. It took a LOT for me just to sing in front of my mom the first few times - and we are very close. I just cannot seem to find the courage/bravery/whatever to sing in front of my dad. He's always been an incredibly critical person, though he means well, and he's been considerably better lately. But I just can't and I don't know why. Probably part of it is that whenever I start playing my guitar, he goes into another room. Every time. So even if I sing while I play, he'd never hear it. And I don't have the guts to just walk in - as easy as it sounds - and say, "Hey, want to hear a song?" I sing in the car listening to my ipod, but I don't think he hears it.

Today in the car with all of us, a Bon Jovi song came on, and my brother asked why I wasn't singing. Nobody else said anything so I don't know if they heard. But it made me feel very.... sad. I honestly feel pretty pathetic that I want to make this a lifelong career and I can't even sing in front of my own family. It causes me a lot of stress, and I really don't know how to fix this problem. I usually sing at night after everyone but my mom has gone to bed. To me it seems weird to just sing in front of everybody like as a little concert or something, or asking them to listen. But I feel like I can't do anything further (performing at live shows, posting on YouTube, etc.) until I can sing in front of my own FAMILY. I know he wouldn't say anything bad, but I just can't, and I hate it.

2) I haven't had much time to sing lately, and the last week or so I just haven't felt up to it. I'm sure at least part of it is because of my fears and my frustration about it. But I really feel like I'm becoming too comfortable not doing it in front of my mom again and that the discomfort is going to come back. What do you guys do when you just don't feel like singing?

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I know what you mean. My whole family sings and most of them do not have a problem picking up a guitar and just wailing away. I, on the other hand, find it difficult to sing in front of my family and many of my friends.

If I am part of a band or have some commitment to sing I have no problem stepping up to the mic and giving it my all.

For one thing I know that the audience came to hear someone sing. Also I know that I am singing songs that I have worked on and they are comfortable to me.

Your dad may be leaving the room because he does not want you to feel uncomfortable while you are practicing.

If you just do not feel like singing but you feel that you need to keep your voice in shape, tell yourself you are training and sing anyway. There will be times when you are a professional that you must sing even if you do not feel like singing. You might as well start now and sing even if you do not feel like it.

Use this time to be objective about some of your songs and work on small phrases that are giving you trouble.

Then on the days you feel like singing.....sing your heart out for the sake of singing.

I hope this helps. I am not a teacher. Just another singer wanting to help.

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I hope this helps. I am not a teacher. Just another singer wanting to help.

And I appreciate it very much. :)

I know what you mean about everyone else singing. Everybody in my family sings randomly for no reason at all, and none of them are afraid of it at all. But not me. Nope, not the one who wants to make it a career.... go figure. :rolleyes:

I think that's what frustrates me the most is that I know there's nothing to be afraid of. He's not going to criticize me because he knows I'm working on it. I'm pretty positive the reaction would be along the lines of, "That was very good!" regardless of what he thinks. But I just can't get myself to do anything about it. I'm just the past couple of years starting to really work on getting out of my comfort zone and be more outgoing as I've always been pretty shy and quiet, so that may have something to do with it. He's also never asked to hear me sing - it'd make it much easier if he did, actually.

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Great video, Phil! I know I should just do it and get it over with and that it'll be fine, but I just can never seem to get up to actually doing it. I really wish I knew what it was exactly that was keeping me from doing it. I've had confidence issues for a while, so I know that's part of it, for sure...

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Phil has a good point. You have taken the first steps. You posted a few songs here. From what I remember you had pretty good feedback.

I think the reason that some who cannot sing have no problem singing in front of people is because they do not need their singing to be validated. They do not strive to be a good singer.

For us, singing is what we want to be known for. If someone makes a bad comment to us about our singing it effects us more.

We should also realise that some are going to make bad comments even if we sound great. That is usually to boost their own self esteem. "Don't give up your day job". Comments like that are usually because the other person is jealous for some reason.

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Wish I knew how to explain my feelings a bit better about this. I think in the case of my dad, it's almost like maybe he doesn't think I can make it a career? He hasn't expressed any interest in my singing other than asking once or twice what I learned at a voice lesson that day or how many I'm going to take. I wonder if that possibly stems from a jealosy of sorts? He always sings randomly and he was in choir in high school. I wonder if maybe he wanted to make it a career but was told he wasn't good enough or that it wasn't a real job, or something along those lines. I don't know for sure, obviously, but that's the impression I've been getting. He's difficult to have that kind of a conversation with, so I can't really just ask him. We're actually just now starting to have decent conversations, though they're usually more along the lines of small talk. But it's getting better.

It'd be easier to just show him a clip of me, but for some reason, with him, that almost seems scarier than just singing in front of him, and I still don't know how I'd bring it up. Up until this year, I haven't sung since I was like 8, so this is a giant jump for me and it's terrifying, quite honestly...

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Singing in front of close friends and family is WAYYYYYY more difficult than singing at a gig. Not sure why that is, but for me, that's always been the case.

I can't sing in front of 4 people but can easily do it in from of 400.

^so true

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Singing in front of close friends and family is WAYYYYYY more difficult than singing at a gig.

Yep. I'm sure a LOT of singers would agree with you on that. I certainly do.

Now, there are appreciative ones. Ones that will just listen to you and enjoy it, whether your tone sucks or you cracked a couple times or screwed up a lyric or sang parts out of tune, they liked the song and that's all that matters to them. And there are ones that spit out the same damn critique on your voice, if you are in very small company. My dad generally doesn't like when I go into a strong head voice that I've put so much work into. He likes to hear it either full voice or falsetto but the tone of my more mixed singing bugs him. He'll tell me not to sing like that when I perform until I've mastered it and get the tone better. And my mom doesn't like when I belt. She says it gets too shouty and hurts her ears. Mostly when I'm singing in the car...I don't blame her.

I have to admit though their criticism has helped. Just learning what two people who care about me don't want to hear come out of my voice has helped steer me in a better direction. It's tough when they can't explain in vocal terminology what they mean but you can still figure it out.

If only they told me what they DID like besides just "staying in your range"...

I swear the biggest criticism always comes from your parents. My siblings have never said anything. Friends have never said anything other than they've noticed my voice is improving. And I once did a show where there were a bunch of musicians in the audience and two different singers came up to me afterward and gave very helpful casual critique. They never said anything was bad just gave a suggestion of something to work on.

Anyways you get the point. Usually your parents are your harshest critics because they are the most outspoken about it.

It seems like you have something worse though regarding your father's concern of you trying to make a career out of music or whatever. I haven't experienced that so I can't help you there. Hopefully someone else will pitch in.

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i totally agree with the guys on this...family and friends.......especially if you're a little shaky in the self esteem dept.

this can be very stressful and debilitating for so many reasons i can't name them all.

but be aware of singing in front of people who don't want you to sound good, because they cannot sing and can easily, passively resent you.

ever notice when you tell someone you sing and they aren't singers the response you get? "you do? go ahead sing something." .....and they put you on the spot?

the best way is to sing in front of a teacher or a knowledgeable singer who will empathize and respect you for what you are doing.

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Place your focus in what you want to do, and understand it well first.

Sounds simple when put this way. But think about it, you want to have a career singing. A career singing is not singing in the living room for your father, a career singing means selling a show that fits a certain situation.

First thing, find persons that perform in the way that you want, talk with them personaly, how is it like? Do you want to do bars and rock/pop gigs, its one kind of situation. Do you want to sing at events like marriages? Its something else.

How does the band plans the show, what is the role of the singer in it? What are the backup plans? How early to arive? What to do on the sound pass? Is it usuall to have a sound pass? How important is the monitoring setup for you? What does singers on the same kind of events/gigs usually do?

But go for the real deal, dont look for youtube videos, get down to a gig, take a notebook with you, write down what you see the band doing up there. Try having a conversation with the band, usually they are happy to help.

There is a lot to get used to, so that you can picture yourself doing the job, you have to be able to imagine yourself performing or else it will always be a platonic thing, something intagible and that you can never reach.

If you wanted to be a doctor, would you try to treat your family first before treating other patients? As others have said, its a different game, a different situation.

Should you find that you absolutely need to play a song for your father, well, you know the guy better than anyone here, make it happen. Remember that your job is to entertain, not to wait for his approval. I would begin by finding out what kind of music he is into and finding a way to break the routine, something you guys do together that is eventual.

The image we get from TV shows is that singers are personswho open their mouth and mesmerize everyone no matter what they are doing. Thats just not true, think about it, lets say you are reading a book that you really love and someone interrupt you singing loud near you... Does it matter how good the singing was? :)

If you know where you want to be, and what you have to do there, you can prepare and avoid surprises. Its not knowing what to expect that causes fear.

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Psychologyy? Singing is mental? Never heard of it. :lol:

You've got family issues. Here's how you deal with toxic family members. You don't. Trust me, dudette, been there, done that. With my mother and my grandparents, the most constant adults in my upbringing. At some point in life, I started wearing long pants, shaving every day, paying bills, i.e., became a man.

In spite of all the picayune reviews in this forum, you are never going to get every note just right to the satisfaction of everyone, be they uninformed and ignorant family member, or the most self-important "singing expert" who thinks they can suss out every single breath you took singing a song.

Just sing. It's not about you or what your father thinks of you. It is about the song. Be a fan of the song, like the audience is. Remove your personal neediness for approval from the equation. And yes, it is easier to say that than it is to do it. This will be harder for you than any scale you have ever done.

Guess what? You are never going to "please" your parents. I certainly have not pleased mine. Not successful enough for the grandparents and I am sure that my mother (RIP 05-22-45 to 03-14-87) sees that I am on the highway to Hell.

Do what it is you have to do. Your family can either appreciate it, or not. And there's not really a lot you can do about that. So, accept the powerlessness of your control over your family. Also, easier said than done.

I realize you are female, so the long pants and shaving the face every day does not literally apply. And I don't give a flying rat's posterior about whatever societal "tradition." This is the 21st century and women are equal, whether you believe it or not.

In the Bible, there is something of a responsibility for talent. If you have a talent and hide it under a bushel (common measuring of corn or other grain products in a basket,) then you deny the gift that God has given you, a slap in His face. Quit slapping God in the face and make a joyous noise.

The hardest thing to accept, and I still have to work on it myself, from time to time, is that your parents are not God. Not perfect. In fact, they are as imperfect as you are.

Philosophy 101 by ronws, redneck master of the sacred and the profane.

\m/

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Confidence and overcoming these deep seated issues takes TIME. I would avoid putting time limits on this stuff. Just focus on improving your singing instrument and in time you will see these issues slowly going away over time and distance.

The funny thing is I've felt timed on almost everything lately, not just singing, and I'm not sure why. We'll hopefully be moving in the near future, and I feel like it's getting really close, so maybe that's contributing to my inexplicable timed feeling. But I do realize that time itself helps with fears. This fear has been very strong for at least 8 or 10 years to the point where I wouldn't even consider trying it. It's been gradually been seeming less and less scary, and then I started getting bored just playing along on the guitar with songs. I didn't sing in front of my mom - who is my best friend and would never criticize me - until the frustration about not doing it became as strong as the fear. I've definitely realized that it's not the fear of singing so much as the initial reaction from those listening. Maybe the whole "fear of success" thing? (Makes no sense, but hey...)

No, I sort of just feel like I've been singing for 7 months and sing in front of my mom like 5 or 6 days a week, but I've never sung in front of my dad, and rarely in front of my brother. It sort of feels like I'm hiding this big secret from them or something.

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Here's an idea. Find an opportunity to perform in a venue where you will except a decent sized audience. If you have to invite people, invite practically everyone you know to ensure the audience won't be awkwardly small. And prepare for the show really well. Pick songs that suit your voice well, practice like crazy, etc. Of course invite your family to the show.

You see now it's less scary cause 50 other people are watching you. When you get up on stage, direct your attention to them. Or maybe invite people you know would appreciate you and ask them to sit up front, and go ahead and make eye contact with them while you perform.

Once you get up on a stage and you are captivating a full audience, what your dad or brother thinks won't really matter anymore cause your goal is now to deliver a great performance for all 50 people listening to you, as a whole.

Maybe? I don't know, that's just an idea. Don't know how you'd feel about that but I'd feel better about that than just singing alone to my dad in the house, you know?

You'll never know until you do it if you could be one of those people who changes character when they're on stage with an audience in front of them and delivers a more captivating performance...some people just need an audience in order to have the confidence a performer needs. Think of it that way and it might help. Get your energy from the other people in the room and the fact that you are seated front and center, above them...there's a comfortable level of command you have now. Just lounging in the house, you are at equals with others, so distractions and power struggles are all over the place. Everything kinda disappears once you're on stage...in a way, a large amount of the fear just goes poof and you start acting in the moment. That's how it should feel when you really get good at performing.

I hope I'm making any sense?

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I highly recommend a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. It talks about approaching things with a fixed mindset where abilities are completely natural versus a growth mindset where abilities are cultivated. People with fixed mindsets are constantly trying to prove their ability to others. This creates an immense amount of pressure to perform and an immense amount of depression upon failure to do so.

Speaking from experience, I've gone into plenty of performances with a fixed mindset about singing. The feeling that a bad performance indicated that I was a failure as a singer made me an absolute nervous wreck. Sometimes I'd still sing well (although still looking very nervous) and sometimes I wouldn't. After some successes and some failures, I eventually got myself into more of a growth mindset about singing and accepted that if I keep working, my voice will be better next year, and the year after that, and a year after that, and so on.

Even if you were in a super high pressure situation, like the final rounds of American Idol, you really have to ask yourself just how much is at stake. There have been 12 seasons of that show and only 2 of the winners have really become big stars - Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. I'm pretty sure that if either of those two had blown it on American Idol, somebody would've eventually offered them a record deal anyway. And those other 10. They nailed the performance and then most of them went on to pretty unremarkable music careers. Although it may be too soon to tell with Philip Phillips and the woman who won last year. But in many cases, the people they lost to wound up being more successful than them.

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I highly recommend a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck.

I'll check it out! Another part of the timed feeling that I just thought of, too, is that I'm at the age where I keep being reminded that I'm not in college and don't have a job and that I'm an adult now and should be doing something with my life... all of that stuff. Those thoughts stress me out far worse than singing.

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I'll check it out! Another part of the timed feeling that I just thought of, too, is that I'm at the age where I keep being reminded that I'm not in college and don't have a job and that I'm an adult now and should be doing something with my life... all of that stuff. Those thoughts stress me out far worse than singing.

Welcome to life.

Thanks to our sluggish economy, it was hard to get any work for 5 years. And all the savings I had was spent paying bills. And I was 3 years behind in my property taxes. This year, the county was going to auction my house away from me. So, I had to secure a property tax loan that amounts to a lien on my house. So, I will be paying that off for a few years. Singing lessons or roof over my head? Sorry, Felipe, and others who think I need direct lessons with an approved teacher. It just ain't going to happen. Ya'll are going to have to put up with my untrained voice for a while longer.

So, Hanalei, you have to make decisions now, and more, like mine, later on. Roof over head, food on the table. Sing when you can, learn what you can. And you know I will always share my "redneck" advice. "Redneck" is a description of a commonsense guy from the rural areas. I'm a transplanted redneck. I was born in Los Angeles, California but I live in a rural county in far north Texas. So, I am a redneck by means of my mailing address and my love of simplification.

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I'll check it out! Another part of the timed feeling that I just thought of, too, is that I'm at the age where I keep being reminded that I'm not in college and don't have a job and that I'm an adult now and should be doing something with my life... all of that stuff. Those thoughts stress me out far worse than singing.

I'd suggest finding something else besides singing to focus on, be it classes, working, volunteering, etc. Even the most dedicated singers can only spend so many hours a day working on their craft.

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So do you guys just try to avoid singing in front of a couple of people when you can? When you have to perform for less than, say, 5 people, what do you do to get through it? Just suck it up and force yourself to do it?

I sing in front of just my mom or just my voice coach all the time, and it's not too bad. It's much easier when I have the original song playing in the background becuase then it doesn't feel like just me. ;)

I guess I don't know how to initiate singing for my dad.

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So do you guys just try to avoid singing in front of a couple of people when you can? When you have to perform for less than, say, 5 people, what do you do to get through it? Just suck it up and force yourself to do it?

I sing in front of just my mom or just my voice coach all the time, and it's not too bad. It's much easier when I have the original song playing in the background becuase then it doesn't feel like just me. ;)

I guess I don't know how to initiate singing for my dad.

So, this all resolves down to singing in front of your dad. And your fear of rejection.

Just do it. I know you are afraid of the rejection, which you already expect. I can't make you do what you need to do. I can't be there to stand imposingly in front of your father and "make" him like you. And it may all be in your head. He might be saying "What is all this fear crap? And what is this large american doing standing in front of me and glaring at me? What did I do?"

Just sing. I can't fix you and your emotions. Only you can do that. So, fix it.

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So do you guys just try to avoid singing in front of a couple of people when you can? When you have to perform for less than, say, 5 people, what do you do to get through it? Just suck it up and force yourself to do it?

I'll do it. Unless it's a specific really awkward situation like just my mom and dad. But on vacation when I sing around the firepit, this year there were times where it was 3 or 4 people (out of friends, family, and other people at the lake), and I had no problem performing for them. It felt weird a couple times but I'd just carry on.

The more you do it the more normal it feels and we've been doing the firepit thing for the past two years on every day of the week we're there...so I've had practice with it.

As for getting through it, I feel I have to sing a bit differently. I guess I take on a different character as a performer perhaps. I'll sing in a bit of a lighter style and embrace the flaws and vulnerability and texture of my voice for artistic effect. Because chances are, when you're not warmed up, you've got smoke blowing in your face, you've just had a few smores, and you're playing for very few people, your voice may crack or flip here or there. You just gotta keep going and make it seem like you're singing with emotion and that any flaws that come up are part of the act and positively add to the realism and intimacy of the performance.

I also recently sang in front of like one or two friends at a recent graduation party, just sitting on the grass playing tunes on the guitar. Same thing goes. You have to lower the volume and embrace the texture and subtlety of your voice. If you play around with those details and keep it interesting and make it seem like you are getting into it emotionally, no one in such an intimate casual setting will care if you hit a flat note or whatever. They will only mind if you are belting your brains out right in front of their face haha.

But always, always, when performing, keep the belief in your mind that the audience appreciates your singing. You will then intuitively do whatever it takes to maintain the audience's satisfaction in order to keep that belief in your head. And satisfying the audience...that's what matters most.

This is just my individual experience. YMMV. You may have to find your own different set of tricks to get through intimate performances. More than anything you just have to DO IT.

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I've done campfire songs, as well. And at a party with friends. in front of 5 to 10 people. Thirty people, 100 people. It's all the same. When I sing, I go in to a "zone." All that is in that zone is the song that I am singing. A song I like, as much as the audience might like the song.

Singing in front of co-workers, friends, family, strangers, that is way, way easier for me than recording. I have "red light syndrome."

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So do you guys just try to avoid singing in front of a couple of people when you can? When you have to perform for less than, say, 5 people, what do you do to get through it? Just suck it up and force yourself to do it?

I sing in front of just my mom or just my voice coach all the time, and it's not too bad. It's much easier when I have the original song playing in the background becuase then it doesn't feel like just me. ;)

I guess I don't know how to initiate singing for my dad.

I liken your situation to men who have approach anxiety when it comes to striking up conversation with women. They envision horrific outcomes that very likely wouldn't even occur.

As for singing in front of your Dad, perhaps you could set up a scenario where he just happens to "overhear" you, and you're not actually facing him? Or how about eventually making a recording, then play it around him without telling him who it is. If he responds to it positively, tell him it's you.

I actually did this many years ago with certain family members I knew would trash it if they knew it was me beforehand. Funny enough, they swore it wasn't me, which made me more than eager to prove it was directly to their faces.

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I'm gonna throw something out there:

If you keep telling yourself you're a beginner/amateur, that's what'll be expected of you. And people who don't know much if anything about singing won't be able to tell if you sing with good technique or not, they just know what sounds pleasant to their ear. I've heard a singer bust ass in karaoke, and I went to talk to him and asked him how long he's been singing, and he just said he's never really had the courage to sing in karaoke before (it was his first night), he just sings in his car and in the shower. He was singing easy stuff, like the Doors and Johnny Cash, but his tone and touch was SPOT ON!

So he sounded great. And I like to think I sound great, but I portray myself as an amateur singer, and I tend to ask for feedback with a negative onset, such as "Well that didn't go too well, did it?" And the answer usually is "well I dunno, it's a hard song to sing, right?" So I'm not any wiser as to if I'm progressing or not (that is, from the feedback only). Recording yourself a lot will help, or buy/make a vocal acoustic monitor to hear yourself better when you sing. This is unless you're monitoring with some other equipment. This'll help you hear what you actually sound like, and whether you like it or not. "pro tip:" if you don't, chances are your friends don't either, because they'll hear it in you.

Long story short: Don't care what people think. The less you care, the more you'll be free to perform and you'll sound good, the less you'll have stage fright. :) Just look at a horde of online douchebags criticizing vocalists that have sold millions of records and still they "can't sing." Why is this? Because criticism is the new black, and it makes anyone look like they have an educated opinion.

I can't sing with feeling, because I'm pretty apathetic by nature. It's something I gotta work my butt off to learn and improve, but I don't let it bother me. I just go for it and hope for the best. :)

EDIT: Sorry, gotta rant some more:

The topic starter said this about his father: "He's always been an incredibly critical person..." This critical behaviour is handed down and learned, it doesn't just pop up. Next time you or a friend of yours hears a song on the radio and says "who is this guy? He can't sing at all!" examine yourself, or ask your friend why he thinks the way he does. Is it because of the lyrics, the melody, the tone of the singer's voice... Or just that old habits die hard? :)

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