Confidence is a tricky thing. Confidence doesn’t come easily to everyone and certainly isn’t something that can just spring up inside you overnight. Building confidence, whether in yourself, your singing, or in other domains, takes time, patience, and effort. Are you a confident person? Do you think I am?
Honestly? I’m not, a lot of the time. More often than most people who interact with me would guess.
That’s the thing about confidence. Most of the time when you feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, that you’re rubbish at something, that you couldn’t possibly achieve that thing, that you sound simply awful…everyone else is like, “Whoa she’s incredible, look at her go! What a great voice she has, wow she’s got such stage presence. She’s totally owning it.”
Not convinced? Keep reading to learn more about building singing confidence.
Building Singing Confidence: My Own Journey
I was a very confident singer growing up. If there was one thing I knew how to do, it was sing. I gained confidence through lessons, assessment (ahh scary exams!), performance opportunities, singing in choirs, leading choirs, leading school singing, passing on my knowledge, and helping friends.
When I finished University, the framework that had supported that confidence was gone. I also didn’t have a great final year, and lost a lot of confidence in myself. Not having that framework to keep my confidence up, I had to rebuild my singing confidence from a pretty low place.
Fast forward to now and I have gained a lot of that confidence back. Working with a new teacher when I moved to Paris completely changed my perspective on my voice, which I absolutely needed. Singing in shows and performing for special occasions for people I cared about helped me remember why I love to sing. But mostly, I gained confidence from ditching the “rules” I had learned around who I was as a singer, and finding my own voice and how I wanted to use it. I did this by singing what I wanted to sing and allowing myself to experiment and try new (and sometimes scary) things. Having the right support around me to encourage me and catch me before I fell was essential and allowed me to figure out the two main components of confidence.
The two parts of confidence building :
Part 1: Building singing confidence by doing a thing.
If you know you can do something, you’re more likely to be confident in doing it. (Equally, if you know you can’t do something, you’re probably right to have a lack of confidence).
This is why practicing – and knowing what and how to practice – is an important part of building your confidence as a singer (or musician, dancer, artist, baker or human in general).
Knowing what and how to practice can be tricky though, which is why it’s helpful to work with someone who can help you identify those things. (A singing teacher perhaps?) It’s also why I believe strongly in singers learning how their instrument works, and how to identify the sensations we feel when we sing, and what they mean. This can be translated into other areas; for example, bakers need to know how to use their machines, how to read a recipe, etc.
Identifying what feels right and what you are good at is an important part of this process, but can also be hard, especially if you’ve got low confidence. Trust someone else’s ears and get a second opinion. We tend to be our own worst critic, so don’t just listen to your own opinion on this one.
Part 2: Building confidence by actually believing you can do that thing.
This is trickier. Part of believing in yourself will come from the actual doing of the thing. The old advice of ‘fake it until you make it’ does tend to work. The more times you do something successfully, the more proof you have that you can do it, which will help you believe you’ll be able to do it again.
But, that probably won’t be enough. You might also need some validation from others. It’s why, when it comes to singing, performing in front of an audience can actually build your confidence. As singers we can get very tied up in not being perfect, and we forget that that’s not what the audience came for – they came for the emotional, musical connection with you, as you tell them a story or share a beautiful moment with them. They really don’t care about that one note that was a bit less than perfect, and being reminded of that can be very good for building confidence.
So, what if you started truly listening to the other voices around you? What if you could take that feedback and say to yourself, “hmm, I don’t think everything I’m saying to myself could be completely opposite to what everyone else is saying. Maybe, just maybe, I am good at it.” When you start to realise the impact you’re having on other people, your confidence starts to grow. From there, no one will be able to stop you. You got this!
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