Singers: How did you gain the courage to let others hear you?

Singers: How did you gain the courage to let others hear you?
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#1

As the title asks, how did you singers develop the courage to sing for others, in public, etc.? Obviously some of you started at a young age, and some are very outgoing.
I’m especially curious about those of you that are more “introverts” and what took you from thinking to yourself that your voice was decent enough that you thought others should hear it? Any regrets?
Just seemed like a fun topic


#2

Aw! What a fun topic indeed!!

When I was six years old a group of older kids (like in second grade) heard me sing in church and laughed at me. I was so hurt that I didn’t sing for four years but to ashamed to tell my parents why I wouldn’t ever try. In school choir I lip synced so I wouldn’t get written up for not participating. But when I was in third grade, my parents bought me my first microphone and a Tascam PortaStudio multi-track machine. Then I recorded myself and decided it wasn’t that awful. I practiced or a year, tried singing again in 6th grade, and when no one laughed at me anymore I decided it was acceptable for me to sing in public. But then I got cocky in high school and had to find out the hard way I didn’t have the natural genetics/physical ability to compete at the professional level as a vocalist. So these days I know my place and only sing when I must :slight_smile:


#3

I never really sang until I got a Fostex X-15, ~~~~ years ago :slightly_smiling_face:, and then I became a one-man songwriter, musician, producer, engineer, and vocalist. By necessity. So it just kind of happened, and I improved as I persisted. Later, I did quite a bit of singing along with radio, tapes, CD’s etc. Of course my favorite of all time is Rob Halford, and I spent a lot of time trying to emulate his range and style. I found there were some I could emulate easily, that seemed to fit my voice signature, like Billy Gibbons. “A haw, haw, haw, haw” :sunglasses:

Then I got a voice coach for a period of time and worked on it extensively, did some recitals and theatre (long story), and auditioned for some bands. But as digital recording came of age, and I got involved with that, I started doing karaoke cover songs to build my chops and repertoire. Originals too. But I found that the exercise of doing karaoke helped a lot, especially going for certain vocal styles. It’s like a reference or measuring stick for where you are, and how you’re progressing. It can be a bit of a crutch too, I suppose, not focusing on individual style.


#4

I can’t sing, and this has been confirmed scientifically by everybody who hears me sing… But I did teach a student with a great voice, who was petrified of singing on stage. We arranged some voice lessons and coaching, and rather than work on her voice (which is gorgeous), the coach worked on her approach to singing in general. She showed her how to stand on stage, what to do with her hands and eyes. I have to say, the transformation was amazing. I remember watching her blast through Smells Like Teen Spirit like a pro on stage.


#5

I didn’t have the nerve to sing until I was in my mid-thirties. I did strictly covers for most of my life (in fact never wrote anything of my own until after joining this group), and up until then they were instrumental covers. Leo Kottke remains my steel-string acoustic guitar idol (Andres Segovia for classical), and I emulated his style in terms of producing melody on top of an accompaniment. Tommy Emmanuel, whom I discovered only a few years ago, has that style too. (Of course I am not even in the same galaxy of ability as those guys!) Because I started out with classical training, going about it that way made sense to me.

But somewhere in my thirties I just got over it and started singing the songs I was playing on the guitar, and nobody mocked me for it. To be sure, nobody praised me either, but it apparently didn’t totally suck and I could credibly pull off the tunes I was singing. Mind you, I sing only really easy-to-sing stuff, because my range is maybe two octaves, as a listen to any of my posted songs will reveal.

I don’t remember what gave me the courage… just figured I could carry a tune and went for it. I have no illusions though, I’ll never be more than the proverbial guy with the guitar at the party, and that’s fine with me.


#6

I can’t help myself. I love to sing. Some people like my voice some people hate it. Often times i fall into the second group and that is what keeps me motivated to keep practicing. Courage may come from it being instilled in me that while there are things we should worry about offending others by being yourself is not one of them. Also that while some have more natural ability everybody has to work to get good at things, those that excel are the ones who put in the effort. I have not put in enough effort but i continue to work on it because I love it.


#7

I had the same experience. I’d sang at band practice a million times just to do it but never got the nerve to do it in public until I was 36. I was terrified but when the song was over, no one threw any rocks at me. lol


#8

Throughout my life I’ve had this way of really appreciating whatever level I’m at with things, whether it’s drawing or singing or sports or whatever. That experience of achieving a “personal best” or learning something new has been so exhilarating that I am usually excited to share it with others, even if it’s not objectively very good. (I always think it’s good at the time!) And then I go out of my way to find out how I can be better and it motivates me to keep improving, one step at a time.

As far as live performance goes… I think the key is to realize that even if you suck, things are going to be okay. Even if you get on stage and have a terrible performance, you’ll still be able to get up the next morning and have a nice tea and take a deep breath and keep living your life. I’ve relaxed quite a bit with singing in front of other people. I just make an effort to relax and then let the cards fall where they will.


#9

1966 I was at Michigan Tech studying to be an engineer. I brought my fender amp and my Gretch monkey model guitar along hoping to have enough time to play it. I never sang on a microphone before and also didn’t own one. I decided to give it a try. I took a small speaker out of a radio, hung it over my bedpost and then took the two wires and soldered them to a jack.
I started playin good lovin and belted out the melody line. I was surprised it didn’t sound that bad. A knock soon came to the door and it was a guy down the hall that played in a local band. He said " you ain’t half bad man" and that gave me the confidence to buy a real microphone. I played in a few bands on an off now for 52 years, but never as a lead singer. Did the background vocals. It’s been a long road


#10

The very first thing I did when I started learning a guitar was write a song, so playing guitar and singing developed in me as one skill, rather than two.

That doesn’t mean I have a good voice, though. It’s a very midrangy tone - not much depth, and not a lot of brightness or gravel up high. But when I write a song I’m proud of, something that came from somewhere deep inside myself, I want to do right by it. I’m sure I’m not the only songwriter to feel that they owe their songs something. So I sing them with the emotions I felt when the songs first arrived, and hope that this is enough.

In terms of actually performing as a vocalist, there’s a conflict in me, I think. On the one hand, my natural propensity to avoid the limelight, to be the side person, born out of anxiety and insecurity I suppose. And on the other, the person I think I could be if I threw off those problems like an old coat, and just be the best me I can be. To write music so good that I needn’t ever feel embarrassed when I perform it, I guess, is what I strive for.

It’s still bloody difficult though.


#11

This is what I wish I could experience… I think I’ve felt that “song arrival” just twice. All the rest of what I’ve written has been a deliberate effort and option to, quote unquote, write a song. It has never come naturally, and I deeply envy those for whom it does! So more power to ya Josh!

Also, thanks @Cristina for those good insights (and welcome back!)


#12

I was always a pretty introverted kid, but when I liked a song it never occurred to me to do anything but sing loud and it’s not like I felt confident when I was singing, it was like I was lost in the moment. It helped that we were seven brothers so it’s not like there was ever a quiet moment around the house which might have helped.

Early 90’s, I was always singing around the house and one of my brothers started playing in a band so I got interested in looking for a band to play as well, went to one of the cooler record stores of the time and looked through the ads, as one did back then, I called some guys up, auditioned and they wound up saying yes, I had never really sung in public before and frankly I was pretty bad at singing in time with the rest of the band, I had a lot to learn bu I practiced.

I was still a shy kid so when we played our first show I think I had my eyes closed the whole time I was singing, it wasn’t conscious, in fact I only noticed because there were a couple of cute girls smiling right next to the stage which sort of broke my concentration a bit. It went by pretty fast and I remember that for the first few shows I had a tough time feeling like I was present in the moment when I was singing, I sort of had to detach myself from the crowd to get through the show, it was like that for the first few years, I would never have a drink before going on stage because I felt it messed with my concentration, yes the other musicians thought I was weird, luckily that never bothered me :slight_smile:

A few years later I fell in with a theater group that was looking for singers, they were preparing a production of Jesus Christ superstar, I learned a lot from them, they gave us some acting lessons and sort of helped us learn how to move on stage, it’s not the same as being the front man for a band but there’s a lot you can learn about stage presence and being aware of the crowd. After that was over we went on to do a few experimental pieces that really helped me get more comfortable on stage, it was a pretty good time.

I was lucky to hang around good people that were willing to teach a young kid how to feel comfortable on stage.


#13

Honestly, the first time was by necessity. Somehow we booked a job and the singer didn’t know the songs, so I yelled my way through a couple. It was embarrassing . but I lived and figured out songs that were in my wheelhouse and got comfortable by trial and error. Since I’m playing guitar, I don’t worry about what it looks like much, I’ve got my hands full.


#14

I barely let anyone hear my guitar playing let alone subject them to my ‘singing.’ Honestly, we’re almost always our own harshest critics, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a bit braver… or maybe it’s that I just don’t care what others might think as I did when I was a kid.

As a kid I took guitar lessons and my teacher forced me to sing. I now understand why… but it wasn’t good for me at the time as I eventually stopped taking lessons and then stopped playing because I wasn’t comfortable with singing. I didn’t really pick up the guitar again until I was in college. I rented a Peavey electric with the little amplifier in the guitar case… and realized that I wanted to start playing again. So I bought my first electric guitar (a mid-80’s MIJ Fender Strat) and it’s been fun for me ever since. I’m still working on the singing thing. :slight_smile:


#15

Nothing wrong with a MIJ. I have had 3 Strats and two were American. The One that plays the best was made in Mexico. Mick Jagger, Leslie West, Mark Knopfler Dave Mustaine, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker, etc. etc. etc. all have one thing in common with a mediocre pizza joint. They deliver.


#16

Took piano lessons for 5 years, so I had to practice at home a lot in front of the family, on the piano in the den. Played occasionally for grandparents & friends. Still somewhat introverted though. Playing synths, I played in several bands in the 80’s. Kind of hiding behind my 2-tiered keyboard stand, it was an accomplishment for me to play in front of a crowd in parties & nightclubs.


#17

I was always drawn to singing. Even as a kid, I always felt the urge to sing-along my favorite records. Actually, I was singing most of the day, every time I had a little bit of time on my own. I even think it helped me learn English from a young age.

That doesn’t mean I was particularly good at it though. To this day, I still think my voice lacks a bit of the range and power I always admired in my favorite singers. Not expressive enough, or sometimes too expressive in the wrong, cheesy way. Never quite right. Never quite good enough to feel “proud” or completely comfortable doing it in public. I did anyway, out of passion entirely but I don’t think I ever got to a point where sharing became painless.

One thing I’ve been trying to work on probably echoes some of what @Cristina was saying: trying to find joy in the process and taking things a little less seriously. I have found that comparing myself to my favorite artists was generally counter-productive and only led to more anxiety and paralysis. So in a personal paradox of sorts, I think I’m just trying to be less hard on myself (“it’s a process, take it step by step”) and more humble at the same time (the most revered bands in the world are probably not the right benchmark, and even if they were, they didn’t get there overnight anyway).


#18

You have a great perspective on this!


#19

You’re all friends. I’ll be straight with y’all.

Nobody has ever heard me sing.

Not my parents growing up, not my wife, not my kids. Absolutely nobody has. The thought of someone hearing me is an incredibly real fear of mine. I have no clue what triggered this, and frankly, I’m not that bothered with speaking publically. I don’t enjoy it much, but I can do it. I’ve also played guitar in front of thousands. Doesn’t bug me at all. Actually, bigger crowds are significantly easier for me. I feel less judged when it’s a mass of people. So, it’s not that I can’t handle being heard. Singing is a different critter though.

Anyway, that’s just something that has bothered me for a lot of years, and I hope some day I can overcome it. Not that anyone is missing out by not hearing me. Haha!


#20

Alcohol man, alcohol is the ice breaker. Then there is our old friend melodyne.