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The Case of the Singer who Didn’t Like Audiences

Rachel Bennett

Joy was ‘into singing’ but found it very distracting to sing to people.

She had been advised that she had a good voice by her college teacher and had just been given a part in the college musical theatre show.

She was a fairly confident individual but seemed to freeze at the thought of singing to others, especially as her college was a place where a level of bullying and raucous taunting was a regular occurrence in the class and corridors.

I listened to Joy sing (I was instructed to turn my back!) and she did indeed possess a strong and tuneful voice with natural expression – she loved singing in her bedroom and in the shower!

I discovered that she also liked singing to her mum!

This inspired me to play a game with Joy.

I gave her a telephone and asked her to call her mum, instructing her to say hello and then sing to her down the telephone whilst I sat in front of her and listened.

This worked beautifully – we were one step from the comfort of home!

After a quick chat and some encouragement Joy agreed to call her best friend Hana and sing to her – the same song as she had sung to her mum. Again, this worked a dream! Joy sang with strength and conviction down the phone.

We extended the exercise on the following visit. I instructed Joy to bring Hana and one other close friend to the session

They agreed and became her audience (same song – so at least Hana knew what to expect).

After some giggling and a few ‘escapes to my hallway’ Joy sang to her friends. There were tears and we gently prised the truth – that her bravado personality masked quite a strong fear of not being accepted. Joy saw singing as a way of laying herself open to criticism.

We encouraged her to say this to her drama teacher at college so she could perhaps bring some understanding to the situation.

Apparently the teacher – who sounds wonderful – sat all her girls down and encouraged them all to discuss the whole idea of being afraid and of learning to trust their classmates in what was a tough and at times threatening college environment.

I was invited by her teacher to run a master class there and made sure some of the more ‘lively’ students attended.

Joy, along with two other singers who were cast in the show, were instructed to approach the student audience and sing directly to them at close quarters, cabaret style. This was a huge success since they had all taken part in a warm up and were feeling a little less guarded themselves!

Needless to say, the show was a success and Joy has signed her name up for the next one!

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Rachel Bennett is a London-based vocal coach and singer songwriter. She is the lead singer / songwriter of RAIE and a Musical Director for theatre, television & recording studios across London. She has associations at WAC Performing Arts and Media College and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. You can learn more about Rachel on her Website or Facebook. You can see more of Rachel’s writing here.

  • Kathy Coneys Alexander

    Thanks for this story – totally inspiring!