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Afraid to Sing Because You are Afraid to Fail?

gaining courage perfectionism performance anxiety



For many people (myself included), the voice is a deeply personal musical instrument. At the risk of offending instrumentalists out there, I do not think playing the guitar, trombone or drums gives you that same kind of connection. Our voice is a part of our body, and it is controlled by our brain. Perhaps this is why when our voice does not make the desired sound, we feel embarrassed.

This is a perfectly normal situation. I have been teaching singing lessons for over 12 years. I have never met anyone who did not have some level of performance anxiety - no matter their level of vocal ability and experience. In some cases, performance anxiety is worse in more experienced singers.

Allow yourself to enjoy the journey of becoming a better singer. Love yourself as the singer that you are now - no matter how horrible you think you are. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses, even though you may have more weaknesses than strengths right now.

Let go of the idea that you should sound great

As a beginner singer, your goal should be to explore your voice and all the different sounds it can make. Experiment with it as much as you can.

Learn proper vocal technique and focus on feeling physically good in your throat (rather than making your voice sound good). When your technique is solid, you will naturally sound good without having to try too hard.

However, this does not mean you do not expect yourself to get better over time.

Expect yourself to improve

If you are training your voice consistently, you should expect yourself to improve. You should be seeing small progress here and there - whether it is in the way you sound, the way you feel in your throat or even something that was difficult for you feels easier now.

This way, you know you are practicing the right way and you are on the right track. It is the little increments over time that add up to an increase in vocal ability and confidence.

Should you not see improvements however, you need to find out why because you do not want to be wasting your time and energy going around in circles.

Celebrate your small successes

As mentioned, you should expect yourself to improve little by little every week. When you do, it is time to celebrate! What you do to celebrate those little milestones is up to you. Some ideas: treating yourself to a day at the beach, going to the movies, sharing your achievement with a friend or something as simple as making a bold headline in your journal.

It is really important that you do celebrate those little successes. This is how you can remind yourself you are on the right track and that what you are doing works. It gives you the motivation and a reason to believe what you are doing is worth your while.


The more you enjoy singing (no matter what your voice sounds like right now), the more you will practice. The more you practice, the better you get. The better you get at singing, the more you will enjoy it - the cycle feeds itself. However, you need to allow yourself to enjoy it first.

To recap, you can allow yourself to enjoy singing more by doing the following:

  1. Let go of the idea that you should sound great
  2. Expect yourself to improve
  3. Celebrate your small successes

Happy singing!


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