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“I’m Not Confident!”

Dear Leontine,

I’m a Jazz singer who hasn’t gigged for a while, though I do studio work frequently and continue to hone my craft. I have a good day job but the fact I am not performing live is nagging at me. When I’ve sung on stage, I have thoroughly enjoyed the singing aspect, but have felt incredibly awkward and fearful when I am not singing. I’m afraid this fear has overcome me and is stopping me from reaching out to venues. My mantra is ‘I’m not confident’.


Dear Jenny,

Many professional singers come to me with the same question and burden.

In fact, I was teaching a lovely singer this morning, who has sung in a dozen professional musical theatre shows, had a baby a year ago, and now cannot get up in auditions without nerves getting the better of her.

It has become such a problem that the anticipation of failure makes failure inevitable – a slippery slope.

The first thing to remember is that although you probably feel alone in this, and as if you are the only one with this problem, it is in fact incredibly common amongst professional singers who have had a little bit of time out.

This can be a matter of a few months without performing.

Performing takes practice. The simple answer is that you need to get your confidence back by performing in any way that you can, live.

You also need to remember what you love about music and performing, and remember the time when you were a beginner and allowed to fail.

A professional performer can only survive if they allow themselves to fail.

However, allow yourself to fail in situations that do not really affect your career.

Take any opportunity.

Best of all, make any opportunity: if there is a church, a nursery, an old people’s home near you, organize a gig there.

In the 19th Century, people had soirees on weekends: organize a dinner party and a small concert at home, buy a camera and record yourself performing and look at it, criticize yourself and do it again until you like what you see.

What else can you do?

Make sure your voice is in good shape.

If vocal technique is holding you back, that can be easily sorted with regular singing lessons.

Ask yourself whether you would rather fail three times and then perform brilliantly again, or never perform out of fear again.

We will all be gone one day; when that happens, will it matter that you sang a few gigs below par?

Or is it more important that you dared to fail a few times in order to get back into shape?

My advice is to build a few bridges with venues such as restaurants, where you can use the evening’s gig to actually get a bit of practice and performing practice in.

As long as you are practicing sing regularly, I used to find it took me about three gigs to feel confident again.

The first one is a nightmare, the second one also pretty awful, by the third gig you start to relax, by the fourth gig you start to play and feel free again – all of a sudden, you are actually enjoying it.

Have a sense of humor about it! Don’t take yourself too seriously and try not to worry too much about criticism.

You are the one up there, not them.

Good luck Jenny. You cannot conquer what you are not willing to lose. It is your choice in the end.

Be brave!


Leontine Hass
Director, The Advanced Performers Studio
Questions for Leontine Hass can be sent to the VoiceCouncil editor: editor@voicecouncil.com

  • Bob

    Hey Leontine! I must say, the other voice teachers of the month have been awesome as is our amazing current one, but when are YOU going be giving weekly advice??? LOL! 

  • Excellent advice, Leontine!
    Warmly, Jeannie Deva

  • Rahere

    There are surely some Open Mike sessions around, even if not in your style – for example, the folk scene has them all over them place. That’s actually an advantage, as you work out of your comfort zone, which is part of the problem, you’re demanding perfection while performance requires you to adjust to the venue and audience. Learn to forgive yourself, too. OK, a pro practices until they cannot get it wrong, perhaps that means do more practice at home.Key your warm-up routine to performance, so once warmed up you’re ready to go and your experience will carry you through, too.