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

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


Thanks for sharing that Bryan! I think it’s actually quite common. To some degree that impacted me too when I first started recording music way back. I had no vocal training when I got the Fostex X-15 and started writing and recording songs and recording covers. I’d only sing, or even do any of the recording really, when I was alone. It was much easier to focus, and to not have the fear of some judgement of the performance.

Fear of public speaking is a huge one for many people, right behind fear of falling to your death (I think). :slightly_smiling_face: So to step up and make any progress on that one is huge for most people.

I figure part of the singing phobia has a lot to do with how public broadcasting and record company artists have featured so many great performers over the last ~100 years or so. It sets a high bar, and our fellow humans tend to judge anything that’s not up to the standards that their mind has been conditioned to accept as ‘professional’. This has even become entrenched with shows like American Idol and The Voice. If you try to sing, you’ll be judged and voted upon. Yuk!

In my experience working with a voice coach, I became very aware of all of this and learning to break through personal boundaries. Working with someone who understands the vocal challenges and insecurities, and who builds your confidence through progressive accomplishment, can make a huge difference.


Thanks for your insight Bryan! I can totally relate to it, because I felt the same way for years and years until the switch flipped for me.

Maybe it was affected by the fact that I do a LOT of public speaking, giving talks and seminars and so forth, in my work life. I’ve never been all that nervous about doing so, even early on, but in those days I would rehearse my talks extensively so that when the time came I felt completely familiar with my material. As the years have gone by I rarely have to do that anymore. The only time I do is when I am giving a talk at a meeting and there is a strict time limit (typically 10 to 12 minutes), so I practice a few times to make sure I get in under time.

Hope that switch flips for you eventually!


Thanks guys! I appreciate the encouragement!


All right, leave it to me to apply the tough love. Just belt that shit out and get over yourself. For every great singer you might needlessly compare yourself to I can name one that can’t sing that has made a career out of it.
If you want to sound trained and professional, it can be taught. Everyone here, however, has one huge advantage; we can record and sing our own stuff.
Delivery and conviction is what makes a great vocalist in my opinion. If you write a song that means something to you, there is no one who has a better grasp of how it should be delivered than you. You also know what keys you are most comfortable in, and can adjust the arrangement accordingly, so you are always in your wheelhouse. You can also comp a performance a phrase at a time, and mangle your voice until it is unrecognizable. With all that being said, if you are completely tone deaf, you can still write a song that works with your lack of ability. (BTO You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet pops into my head immediately).
My suggestion to you is to go to Canada, get stoned to the bejeesus, and watch Joe Cocker sing With A Little Help From My Friends from Woodstock. In your smoke induced haze you will see spit, phlegm, tonsils and license plates come flying out of his mouth while he bares his soul and stomps on any resemblance of musicality to get his point across. Joe is gone now, but imagine how many people told him he couldn’t sing before the world loved him.
Just do it.
99.97% of the people you worry about when you sing don’t know what singing is.


Yes, “play to your strengths” might be another way to put it. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen … I wouldn’t consider any of them trained or excellent vocalists, but they had delivery and conviction, as well as damn good songs - which helps a lot.

I do think even some degree of this can be helpful, if only to help alleviate inhibition and insecurities and allow your natural talent to emerge more easily. But then, sometimes a bottle of Jack can accomplish the same thing. :triumph:


Awesome, just awesome! - this encapsulates why we see eye to eye on all things rock and/or roll!


Have you thought about taking singing lessons? I’ll tell you this about singing lessons–they are incredibly fun. I find music lessons fun in general, but there’s something about singing lessons that causes me to laugh out loud regularly. I think it’s something to do with discovering the sounds that we’re capable of making. A sort of, “holy hell I didn’t know I could do THAT!” Lots of those kinds of moments. That environment might take a lot of the pressure off for you to get a good start at as well. You don’t have to mention your fear to your instructor, and keep in mind that they have definitely heard worse than you! And once you open your mouth and that first note comes out, it’ll all get easier after that. :slight_smile:

It’s taken me a long time to get mostly-comfortable with singing in front of others. The thing I struggle with the most is trying out new things in front of people. It’s a bit too personal to share that process of creation. I think that singing is personal in general. It feels so very much like you. I get why it’s scary. And you may not think anyone else is missing out, but it sounds like you’re missing out. And I hope that if singing is something that you want to do, that you’ll do it sooner rather than later. And hey you’ve got a friendly audience here for when you’re ready!


Great suggestion Cristina! :slight_smile:

You have a recording rig… just wire up a mic, recording yourself and then try and make yourself improve. When you hit a wall and exhaust your own resources, reach out and get some help. Its not like you have to sign up for a semester of it in college… just a few ‘masterclasses’ to help you gets started can go a LONG way.

I’m almost 100% certain I know what’s going on here. If you’re serious about doing this, you first step is going to be forcing yourself to accept what you sound like. I’ll explain:

This is a confidence issue connected with your perception of your instrumental competency. The fact you are capable of talking to a group of people implies you don’t have stage fright (as a neurological disorder) and if you play guitar infront of people it follows you’ve built a sufficient level of self-confidence in your overall musical aptitude.

I really think you don’t sing infront of people because you have no idea where your skill set stands and I think that’s normal. I think its reasonable, and I think its healthy. It merely means your expectations of yourself are properly balanced with that of the social system around you.

Your question needs to be: What is the first step I must take to achieve the confidence level required to do this. My answer is to go through stages of affirmation. Get affirmation that your voice is acceptable and not offensive. You need to start seeking that affirmation with the lowest-risk process you can. That process is setting up a mic and recording yourself singing anything. Force yourself to listen to it until you can accept what you sound like. You’ll hate it at first, but you’ll grow to accept it, you can’t deny it, and that mic won’t lie. Your first reaction will only be “I think I sound terrible”. You WILL hate it. That’s normal. The next question is what are you gonna do about it?

First you get used to it. Only after you’ve accepted what you sound like, will you be in a position to even begin making adjustments.

The reason its better to self-assess than to have your friends (even if they know what the hell they’re talking about) tell you that you sound OK, is because the problem is you. Not them. External affirmation is meaningless if you first use it as a crutch to not have to be honest with yourself. If you have internal confidence then DO NOT RECEIVE external affirmation, you have a different problem. But for now, I think getting comfortable and acquainted with your instrument by simply picking it up and starting to use it, is the first real step.


There are lots of “voice coach” videos on YouTube, which can give some ideas on how to practice on your own. Then, you can just sing along with a keyboard or recorded notes to work on your intonation (the thing most people struggle with). Start simple … “Mary had a Little Lamb” if that’s what it takes. From there, as I mentioned earlier, singing along with a karaoke track can be quite helpful. Just don’t get caught in the trap of trying to sing it just like the original. Make it your own, but try to be in tune with the music track. Practicing with the original song can help get started if necessary, and print lyrics off the internet to follow along with.


I don’t have a problem with people hearing recordings of my singing after I’ve edited them, but I absolutely hate singing in front of people, which sucks since my band has a show Saturday lol. Of course I have anxiety problems and I wouldn’t want to talk in front of people either, in fact that might even be worse.


I started singing in front of audiences at 16 years old but at first I was only singing backup vocals. At 18 years old I started singing lead vocals more often. I never had any objective proof that I could sing, but at that age (and beyond) I believed I was destined to be a rock star. :joy: Seriously though, I just believed I must be damn good because I was so obsessed with rock music and guitar playing and I had this crazy that idea that I was one of a kind. I’ve known a few other people that were like that also. Not all of them were good though. Fortunately it came fairly naturally for me, but as I said, there was zero reason to believe that I could actually sing. Maybe blind faith and youthful delusion helped me get out of my own way. It must sound like I was a confident guy…NOT AT ALL…I only had confidence in my musical ability…nothing else. I’m still definitely an introverted and shy guy…though you might not notice that shyness if you were talking with me. I hide it fairly well. I appear to be anything but shy when I’m performing :partying_face:…Also, I can be talkative in small group settings , but I’m still uncomfortable talking to audiences at gigs… :zipper_mouth_face: . When I perform, I have an alter ego that appears confident, even cocky, yet I’m not like that offstage. It wouldn’t bother me if I was completely alone without any human contact for a long period…Man, that even sounds awesome to me! Quiet time!

The best advice I’d give you is to sing in private at first, then sing for one other person…Maybe, eventually when you’re ready, bring your guitar camping or to a quiet park to sing…When you go camping everyone will be doing their own thing and nobody will pay much attention, unless of course you’re all sitting around the camp fire at night and they want you to sing something for them…In that case, you need to drink some alcohol !:smiley: But the good thing about sitting around a campfire with your guitar is that others will very possibly join in singing with you…When you’re not singing alone it becomes easier…Matter of fact, joining a choir might be helpful if you feel it takes most of the attention off you…If you’re religious you can probably improve your vocal chops/ vocal confidence by practicing singing with the whole congregation…Christmas Eve would be a good time to try that out. You know you won’t bring any particular attention to yourself when you’re singing Christmas carols with your family and the rest of the congregation…and you could keep your face hidden in the lyric pages as you sing. No need for eye contact either, because you’ll be reading the lyrics.