One of the great sources of happiness and comfort in my life also gives me one of my biggest fears.
Singing. Or singing in public to be more precise.
I can trace it all the way back to when I was about six or seven years old and I stood up at the school concert to do a duet with a little friend. When it hit me that there were hundreds of eyes on me, I froze and stopped singing.
That wasn’t the worst of it. The audience laughed.
“…all by myself, don’t want to be, all by myself…”
It must have been cute to them, and funny. It was humiliating for me, but I managed to rejoin my friend and finish the song. That experience has stayed deeply etched in my memory long after the rational older me understood and dealt with it.
In little more than a week, I will stand up in front of a paying audience and sing.
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”
Those who know me will know that I’ve done a fair bit of public singing over the years – mostly karaoke. I get a big rush of adrenalin even in that environment, where singing is often a bit of a laugh.
The forthcoming concert is serious singing. It’s something I’ve been training to do. I look up to my vocal coach in a big way, with all his experience performing around the globe, and I don’t want to disappoint him, or myself.
There will be about 20 singers. They’re mostly professionals and aspiring professionals with just a couple of others who, like me, are enthusiastic amateurs.
The funny thing is that I had the perfect opportunity to get out of it. I had a booking to head interstate, yet I changed my flights so that I could be here that night, and I’ve invited friends to come and watch.
“…I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment…”
With skin in the game, I’m now approaching my singing practice much more like a professional.
It’s changed the conversation in my singing lessons because I’m bringing so much more into the studio: ideas, learnings and a voice that is developing through milestone after tiny milestone.
My coach has invited me to look on the performance as just one learning opportunity rather than some defining moment. Afterwards, we will assess how I went against specific objectives I set for myself rather than focusing too much on how it felt or what the audience thought.
That approach does help ease the apprehension and there is also strength in something my running trainer once shared with me.
If you do the training, when you front up to the start line, you have the confidence of knowing you earned the right to be there. Regardless of what happens on the day – and we all have good days on the track and some not so good – you know that you’ve worked hard and done all that you could.
So that’s the approach I’m taking to this concert. I’m practicing everyday, taking on board the feedback, working to build strength where it’s needed.
When I stand in front of that microphone… I will know that I deserve to be there.
“The brave man is not one who has no fears, he is the one who triumphs over his fears.” – Vale Nelson Mandela.
“All by myself” – Eric Carmen
“I will survive” – Frederick Perren & Dino Fekaris
“Skyfall” – Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth