How to Overcome Fear of Singing

Sing because you enjoy it, not because someone is listening.
Sing because you enjoy it, not because someone is listening. (Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

People sing in cars, showers and elevators--any closed environment without an audience. However, put that same person in front of an audience of 500, 50 or five, and not a note will escape his or her throat. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2001, 40 percent of Americans are afraid of public speaking, which can be easily translated to singing in public. Psychologists and vocal coaches agree the most common reason people are afraid of public performances is a fear of failure. The key to overcoming the fear of singing is changing the way you think and feel about singing.

Things You'll Need

  • Audience
  • Vocal coach, optional

Overcoming a Fear of Singing

Name your dream. According to "Psychology Today," the number one way to achieve your goal is to ask yourself what you want to do, or better yet, why you want to do it. "I want to sing because I think I have talent." "I want to sing because my mother was a singer." "I want to sing so I can win American Idol." "I want to sing because those bullies in third grade made fun of me."

Stop thinking of singing in front of an audience as a performance. According to Jennifer Hamady, voice coach and author of the book "The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice," people become anxious in front of an audience because they perceive it as an act of offering the self. As Hamaday explains it, singing in front of an audience is not a performance of one, but a shared experience between singer and audience. It is a conversation, an exchange of ideas and feelings, not just a sacrifice of the inner soul to strangers.

Remember there is no failure--only feedback. The Goal Setting Guide reminds us that successful people grow from mistakes, and unsuccessful people see mistakes as permanent flaws. Recognize that criticism reveals room for improvement. Even famous singers get bad reviews. The singer who wants to remain famous listens to the critics and comes back with a hit song or album the next time.

Practice. Fear of singing sometimes comes from the belief that you are under-prepared. However, be realistic in your practice time. One hour a week isn’t going to be enough, but 40 hours a week may just feed your anxiety. Remember that singing should be fun.

Seek an audience of one. Take singing lessons. See a psychologist who specializes in phobias. Talk to your fifth grade music teacher. Find someone to listen not only to your singing but your fears.

Visualize your performance. If you are afraid of singing the wrong words, picture each one in your mind as you sing. If you are afraid your voice will crack, sing the song slowly and feel the song in your throat. If you are afraid of what people will think, imagine the seats empty.

Enjoy singing. People remember William Hung’s enthusiastic performance of “She Bangs” on American Idol. The song was off-key, you couldn’t understand the words, but he was sincere. He had fun and we had fun watching him. America loved him so much for loving to sing that he even got a record deal and 15 minutes of fame. People react to your attitude when you sing. If you enjoying singing, your audience will enjoy it with you.

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