The First Thing You Should Lose

Over the years, I’ve heard LOTS of singers.  One of the first and most striking differences between singers is something you can pick out by the first note they sing.  Between the pros I’ve sung with, the contest singers I’ve had the privilege of evaluating, and the singers that auditioned for Mission City Opera I’ve probably heard 5000+ singers.

Of course, I listen for some things all singers must have:  like pitch, basic talent, a good tone, etc.  But oddly enough one of the things that turns out to be a most important item is SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE MISSING.  All singers should strive to go through something I call “Timidity Loss.”  There is an “attack” that some singers seem to bring to the mic that means they’ve been able to banish the temptation to “hide themselves” emotionally.

Those of you who watch the early-season episodes of Idol or Can You Duet may be nodding your heads right now.  You’ve seen the poor souls who look like they’ve been caught doing something wrong when they sing.  Those of you who have actually walked onto a stage will recognize this battle from inside your own skin. It may take years of auditions or it may just take some well-chosen words from a wiser performer to get you to LOSE YOUR TIMIDITY.  But either way, you must suffer “Timidity Loss” if you are going to grow as a performer.

EVERYONE has to deal with this.  (Even Miss Kaye, has been told by Opera Mavens “What are you doing sitting around teaching when you have a voice like this?  Get out there again.”)  Don’t say where you heard it, but I think we’ll hear something from Sharon very soon. She’s been sneaking out of the teaching studio and into the recording studio lately.  You see it’s not just about “having the chops.”  It’s about a “can do” attitude that gets you outside yourself.  You could be sitting on a goldmine of talent, and still be too timid to bring it fully to bear.


I know I’ve said this before, but one of the most important factors in losing your timidity is KNOWING in your CORE that you are committing AN UNSELFISH ACT WHEN YOU SING.  Making the “thousand mile jump” from SEEKING something you crave (money, applause, affirmation) to GIVING something to your listeners that they value, is the ESSENCE of losing your timidity.

I’ve heard people say, “I wish I could sing” or “I wish I could sing like you”.  It would be tragic if at your funeral, instead of the preacher saying, “Old Joe sure LOVED to sing,” he could only say, “Old Joe always WISHED he could sing.” “Just tell ’em, ‘Don’t wait!  Just go ahead and sing!'”   If you work as hard…who knows?

So, we want to say “Don’t wait!  Don’t be timid.  Make the ‘thousand mile jump’ and lose your timidity.  JUST SING!”  Bless others with the voice you have and get outside yourself and your own selfishness.


Doubtless, some timidity comes from plain old inexperience and lack of technical knowledge.  If you open your mouth and hear bad sounds coming out, you’ll tend to want to close your mouth.  If you STILL have a strong desire to sing, you’ll probably develop a very strong desire to IMPROVE your singing as you sense the need.  Hey, it’s what drives us all…the deep desire to be able to do this well.  Part of your confidence will come with the confident knowledge that you can sing easily and with great command of your own voice.  Our vocal system is designed to let you build that confident knowledge that your own “equipment” is finally at your command.


The one MOST effective, but least used exercise for losing your timidity is also the most difficult.   (Not difficult like lifting 400 lbs. difficult.  Not difficult like playing a Bach fugue difficult… More like telling your best friend he needs to shower-more-often difficult.)  Yes, and this time your best friend is YOU.  The not-so-secret technique is … getting alone and watching your performance on video.  OUCH!

It will require video footage of a recent performance.  OR…you can just go into your own bathroom, point the camera at the mirror and perform your song to that human in the mirror.  THEN make yourself watch.  You’ll see the most painful things (like nervous ticks, unexpected facial expressions you didn’t mean to make, like a “mean” stare, etc.)  But IF you push through the pain and keep making adjustments, you’ll LOSE YOUR TIMIDITY.

You’ll reach this magical place where you stop hating your looks and stop feeling like you’re no good and get comfy with the awkward situation that performance can be.  As not-so-secret as this technique is…in my experience, out of the hundreds on this mailing list, about 10-12 of you will have the courage to do this exercise.  Not so surprisingly, those 10-12 will be the ones who actually see huge improvements in their ability to connect unselfishly with their audiences.

Please…be one of them.

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