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Overcoming Embarrassment When Singing

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Have you ever felt a burning desire to sing your heart out, only to be crippled by a wave of embarrassment? You're not alone. The fear of judgment or ridicule when singing in front of others is a common hurdle that many aspiring singers face. It's a mix of stage fright, self-consciousness, and the overwhelming desire to 'get it right.' But here's the good news: it's entirely possible to overcome this barrier.


Understanding the Embarrassment

Before diving into some solutions, let's first understand a few possibilities of the problem:

*There are many other possibilities and scenarios that cause embarrassment when singing in front of people. These are just some of the most common.

  • Fear of Judgment: At its core, embarrassment stems from a fear of being judged. Whether it's fear of making a mistake or not living up to expectations, this concern can paralyze a singer.

  • Social Anxiety: This might play a significant role, especially if you're singing in front of others. Social anxiety disorder can extend to various social performances, including singing.

  • Perfectionism: Wanting to sing perfectly might lead to performance anxiety, causing stress and embarrassment if perfection is not achieved.

Strategies to Overcome Embarrassment


1. Building Confidence - Start Small: Starting small and gradually expanding your audience is a fantastic way to build confidence and reduce embarrassment when singing. Here's a progression that many budding singers can follow to ease into performing in front of others:

  • Singing Alone in a Comfortable Space: This is the best place to start for complete beginners. You can sing in the shower, your bedroom, or any place where you feel relaxed and free from judgment.

  • Performing for Close Friends or Family Members: This might not be everyone's first, second or even third choice, but for some this may be a good place to start. Friends and Fam are the people who usually provide a safe and supportive environment. They are likely to give you honest feedback, helping you grow. Always try to take criticism without feeling offended. It's sometimes hard, but try.

  • Participating in a Small Group or Community Choir: Joining a local choir or a small singing group is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for music. The collaborative nature of these groups helps take the focus off the individual, reducing pressure and anxiety. Plus its always a good thing to do something community-based.

  • Open Mic Nights at Local Cafés or Bars: Open mics are a great stepping stone. The informal setting and the small, usually supportive crowd make it a comfortable place to try out your skills in public. There are often people going up for their first time, so you will not be alone.

  • Online Performances and Social Media: Starting a YouTube channel or going live on Instagram or TikTok can be an exciting way to reach an audience. It allows you to connect with listeners without the immediate pressure of a live, in-person audience. Be ready for trolls in your comments though!!!

  • School or College Performances: If you're in an educational institution, consider participating in school or college concerts, talent shows, or musicals. These venues often provide a supportive audience of peers.

  • Busking or Street Performing: For the more adventurous, busking in a public space can be an exhilarating experience. The casual nature of street performances can make it less intimidating, and it's a great way to connect with strangers through music.

The key is to find the level that challenges you without overwhelming you and then gradually step up as you become more comfortable. With time, patience, and practice, you'll find that the stage — whether it's your living room or a local café — becomes a place of joy rather than embarrassment.


2. Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-talk is a powerful psychological tool that involves reinforcing your self-confidence through uplifting and encouraging affirmations. It can boost self-esteem, increase motivation, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall mental well-being. Here's how it works, along with five examples of affirmations to say to yourself:


How Positive Self-Talk Helps

  • Enhances Confidence: By affirming your abilities and strengths, you're reinforcing the belief in yourself, leading to greater self-assurance

  • Reduces Anxiety: Positive affirmations can calm nerves by shifting focus from what might go wrong to what you can achieve.

  • Improves Performance: Research has shown that athletes who engage in positive self-talk perform better

  • Changes Negative Thought Patterns: It helps in reprogramming the mind by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, fostering a positive outlook on life.

Five Affirmations for Singers

  • "I Have a Unique and Beautiful Voice": This affirms your individuality and encourages you to embrace your uniqueness, without comparing yourself to others.

  • "Every Mistake Is a Step Closer to Success": By framing mistakes as learning opportunities, this statement helps ease the pressure of needing to be perfect.

  • "I Am Capable and Strong": This empowering affirmation helps build resilience, reminding you of your strength and ability to overcome challenges.

  • "I Enjoy Sharing My Music with Others": This affirmation creates a sense of joy and purpose in your singing, moving the focus from fear of judgment to the pleasure of sharing music.

  • "I Am Growing and Improving Every Day": This affirmation encourages a growth mindset, emphasizing progress and continuous learning.

Implementing Positive Self-Talk

  • Repeat Often: Make these affirmations a daily ritual, repeating them often to yourself. Write them down, say them out loud, or even sing them.

  • Visualize Success: As you say these affirmations, visualize yourself succeeding in the area you're affirming.

  • Use in Times of Stress: Before a performance or when feeling nervous, these affirmations can be a calming and centering tool.

3. Set Realistic Goals: Understand that nobody is perfect and set achievable milestones.

Developing Skills
  • Take Lessons: Professional guidance like voice lessons can provide a structured learning path and build competence, which boosts confidence.

  • Practice Regularly: As with any skill, practice makes perfect. The more you sing, the more comfortable you'll become.


Addressing Anxiety


1. Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Explanation: Mindfulness is the practice of staying present and fully engaging with the present moment. Meditation is a related practice that often focuses on breath, body sensations, or a specific object of focus.

  • How it Helps: These practices can reduce anxiety by bringing attention away from worries and fears and back to the present moment.

  • Application: Regular practice of mindfulness or meditation techniques, even just a few minutes a day, can help. Apps like Headspace or Calm provide guided sessions specifically designed to reduce anxiety.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Explanation: CBT is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.

  • How it Helps: CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones. It has been shown to be particularly effective in treating social anxiety.

  • Application: Finding a mental health professional who specializes in CBT can provide tailored support. There are also online platforms like BetterHelp that offer virtual therapy sessions.

3. Breathing Exercises

  • Explanation: Controlled breathing techniques can calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety.

  • How it Helps: Focusing on deep, slow breaths can provide a sense of control and calm, especially in high-stress situations like performances.

  • Application: Techniques like the 4-7-8 method (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8) can be practiced regularly and used before or during stressful events.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • Explanation: This technique involves tensing and then slowly releasing different muscle groups in the body.

  • How it Helps: It helps to release physical tension, which often accompanies anxiety, promoting overall relaxation.

  • Application: Practicing this method regularly can make it a useful tool to call upon when feeling anxious.

5. Positive Visualization

  • Explanation: Visualization involves imagining a successful scenario in vivid detail.

  • How it Helps: By mentally rehearsing a successful performance, a performer can reduce anxiety and increase confidence.

  • Application: Spend time visualizing the entire process of performing successfully, from walking onto the stage to the applause at the end.

6. Community Support

  • Explanation: Building a support network of friends, family, or fellow musicians can provide encouragement.

  • How it Helps: Knowing that others support and believe in you can reduce performance anxiety.

  • Application: Share your feelings and experiences with supportive individuals or groups.

7. Working with a Vocal Coach or Music Teacher

  • Explanation: Engaging with a vocal coach or music teacher offers targeted guidance to help build technical skills and confidence in singing. Individualized attention can provide constructive feedback, personalized exercises, and emotional support.

  • How it Helps: A coach or teacher's expertise can lead to rapid skill development and greater confidence in one's abilities, reducing anxiety associated with performing or singing in public.

  • Application: Look for experienced coaches or music schools in your area that can provide personalized support. Local music schools like Descant Music and Art Studio in Holyoke, MA, offer voice lessons tailored to individual needs, making them an excellent option for those seeking to grow their vocal abilities and confidence.


Concluding Thoughts


Overcoming embarrassment when singing is not a quick fix but a journey. With understanding, practice, professional guidance, and a change in perspective, you can sing with freedom and joy. Remember, every great singer started somewhere, and many faced and overcame these very same fears. Understand that mistakes are natural and an essential part of learning. Instead of fearing mistakes, use them as opportunities to learn and grow. So take a deep breath, embrace your voice, and sing like nobody's watching.


Captivated by the world of music and eager to explore piano, voice, guitar, or bass guitar lessons? Take the next step on your musical journey by filling out our MORE INFORMATION form, and we'll connect with you soon!


References

  • Gilovich, T., Medvec, V. H., & Savitsky, K. (2000). The spotlight effect in social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(2), 211-222.

  • Heimberg, R. G., Brozovich, F. A., & Rapee, R. M. (2014). Social anxiety disorder: A cognitive-behavioral perspective. In Social Anxiety. Academic Press.

  • Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2005). The perils of perfectionism in sports and exercise. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(1), 14-18.

  • Wood, J. V., Perunovic, W. Q. E., & Lee, J. W. (2009). Positive self-statements: Power for some, peril for others. Psychological Science, 20(7), 860-866.

  • Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605.

  • Ledley, D. R., Heimberg, R. G., Hope, D. A., Hayes, S. A., Zaider, T. I., Dyke, I. V., ... & Fresco, D. M. (2009). Efficacy of a manualized and workbook-driven individual treatment for social anxiety disorder. Behavior Therapy, 40(4), 414-424.

  • Savitsky, K., Medvec, V. H., Charlton, A. E., & Gilovich, T. (2001). “What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business:” Impression management functions of the cognitive bias task. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 122-132.

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