Is singing in public an item on your bucket list? Goldie Vigneri shares a strategy to achieve your singing dreams.
Why is it that there are so many people who have always wanted to share their voice in song but just can’t let go of the fear they may mess up?
If we could go back to watch many of these same people as children, I bet we would find them singing their little hearts out and not giving a care to whether they would mess up or even if anyone liked it.
I was working with 40-year-old Medical Doctor who had been in practice for years. She came to me just to get comfortable with singing out more in church.
Her shyness and reserved nature caused all of her singing sound to be choked off.
Through some of the techniques below, I was able to distract her while she was singing – she produced unbelievably good tone and volume. She was so surprised when she realized what was coming out of her mouth.
Then, I asked her to work on a fun, secular, 60s song, one she wasn’t so invested in – and wouldn’t have come up on the church repertoire!
Just for fun, I asked her to sing it with an angelic tone.
This became the moment when she realized that she could sing; she sang it with gusto in my student revue class.
Now, she isn’t only singing out in church, she is on the music team leading others in singing.
Think of these ideas as trying on shoes – not everyone will work for you; just go with the ones that fit best
1. Get Your Costume On
Most shy or reserved people are very self critical and getting them out of their own head sometimes can be one of the most “hair pulling” tasks I do! But when I can get them to become someone else for a moment, they let go of the inner critic. If I can them to listen to what they are singing while they are having fun, without retreating back into that “shell”, they can usually start being the adult with the kid spirit and just open their mouth and sing with enjoyment (Note: it usually takes several costume sessions to achieve this).
2. Rock Out In Your Car
Yes, just let yourself sing in the safe confines of your vehicle – and don’t stop rocking even when other cars surround you. You can also practice movements in front of a mirror (unless you are being over critical of your looks!)
3. Mimic Your Favorite Singer
Another technique is to sing a song like your favorite singer. Sometimes if I have a student struggling with an upper note, I will ask, “how would Minnie Mouse sing that?” When they sing it the way she would, the placement of the note is right where it should be. This idea of singing like an admired singer works in the same way as a costume (and both ideas can be used together).
4. Use A Puppet
Another simple idea: sing via a sock. I will sometimes use a simple sock puppet with eyes drawn on and yarn sewn on for hair. You might think that puppets are for children to use but, actually, adults (often more than children) need an object to hide behind. Using the puppet seems to free up many of my students to find joy in their voice
5. Speak To A Stranger
Another exercise I have for my extremely shy students is to ask them to strike up a conversation with a stranger when they are standing in line – or ask the check out clerk how their day is going. This helps them escape the “I just want to be invisible” state of mind. At the same time I ask them to pay attention to the placement of the stranger’s voice – to attempt to determine the range. This gets the student thinking less of themselves and more about music and singing.
Of course I work with everyone in a unique way and combine individual and group work in ways that feel safe and appropriate for each aspiring singer.
Yet, most of my students find a degree of vocal freedom in at least one of these exercises.
I think that one reason these exercises work is because the students who come to me are serious about wanting to fulfill a dream.
They are even willing to embrace some child-like qualities on the way there.
– Goldie Vigneri
Goldie Goldsmith-Vigneri is a voice teacher/performance coach at Studio G Performing Arts in Harrodsburg, KY. Her students range from young to seniors. She specializes in bringing the shy singer into the “spotlight.” As a result of her teaching, many now work professionally, and a large number have won major competitions. Find out more here.