Monday, June 19, 2017

The ‘good enough’ singer or how to enjoy performing with your choir

I am often faced with a sea of frowns as singers struggle to get a song ‘right’. The frowns even appear during performances when songs have been well-rehearsed.

singing audition

This self-doubt can begin to pervade everything and then singers start to believe that they’re not good enough.

We all bring baggage to new learning situations, often based on our experiences at school. The same happens in choirs.

Many singers struggle to get it ‘right’ all the time. They feel that they are letting themselves (and fellow singers) down if they deliver anything less than ‘perfect’. Maybe they fear being told off?

I’ve seen singers beat themselves up when they can’t pick up their part instantly or feel that they’re the only one just not getting it.

The end result is that singers start to believe that they can never be good enough.

This lack of self-belief and doubt can begin to pervade a whole section of the choir. It spreads rapidly and soon becomes self-fulfilling. Even easy songs become a struggle. Singers feel that they have somehow ‘failed’ because the final result doesn’t match up to their (imaginary, self-imposed, unrealistic) ideal version of the song.

I create two choirs from scratch each year over six rehearsals. I teach eight harmony songs by ear which we then perform in public to a high standard. We’ve had semi-professional singers with us on the bill who have commented that they found it hard to believe that it was a scratch choir.

Although the singers have a great time on the project, they never feel that they’re good enough. Here are some comments from other professionals who’ve attended the performances:

“I was struck by how self-effacing many of [the singers] were when I congratulated them – as if they don’t believe in their own ability. A couple of them seemed to think I was taking the piss!”

“I spoke to some of [the singers] afterwards and they were almost apologetic that they felt that they hadn't got it technically perfect. What they hadn’t quite realised was that they engaged wonderfully with the emotion of the song. I know I'm not alone in having found it very moving to listen to.”

So embrace the idea of the ‘good enough’ singer. The one who tries hard, who focuses in rehearsal, and who does the best they can whilst still having fun.

It’s impossible to be perfect, and in a choir you are just one person in a large team so you have little control over the end result.

If you can be happy with being a ‘good enough’ singer, you’ll find rehearsals less stressful and you’ll be amazed by the positive responses you get from an audience.


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Chris Rowbury


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