Sunday, June 30, 2013

Raising the bar: singing with people who are more experienced than you

Many of us are wary of attending singing workshops or choirs when we feel that people will be a lot more experienced than us.

This is particularly true when you’re starting out as a singer, but that feeling never goes away!

Hobart choir

But singing with more experienced singers need not be frightening and can help you raise your game.

it’s scary!

When you read this I will be in Macedonia attending a singing camp run by Village Harmony. We will be learning lots of Macedonian songs and dances then performing them in public. Scary!

My sense is that many of the participants will be much more musically knowledgeable than I am, play musical instruments, read music, and can sing beautifully. If I’m honest, I feel a little out of my depth.

We all bring baggage with us when we attend singing sessions:

  • “Will I be good enough?”
  • “Will I cope and be able to keep up with everyone else?”
  • “Will I look (or sound) foolish?”
  • “Will they be better/ cleverer/ faster than me?”
  • “Dare I inflict my awful voice on others?”
  • “Will people like me if I’m not very good?”
  • “Maybe they read music and I don’t”
  • “What if I fail or fall behind?”

No matter how experienced we are, some of these thoughts will occur to all of us from time to time.

We have a choice: sing regardless and confront these fears, or don’t go at all. But if we opt out, we lose the opportunity of growing and getting better.

step outside your comfort zone

Growth and development occur when you push yourself just outside your comfort zone. It’s a fine balance: you don’t want to push yourself too far or you just won’t cope, but you don’t want to stay too close to your comfort zone or you won’t grow at all.

You’ll be surprised how much you will be swept along by singers more experienced than you. You will be buoyed up and supported by the general level of skill and enthusiasm.

But even if you do get lost or left behind, you can learn a great deal by just observing how the other singers are coping. Don’t opt out of difficult things too early though. Don’t just avoid what’s hard – give it a go and see how you fare. You will probably surprise yourself!

you’re not the only one

Whatever happens, remind yourself why you are there: to have fun and enjoy the singing (as well as to learn). Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t worry what others think (they will all be at different stages to you any way).

Don’t assume you are the only uncomfortable one. Even if someone appears to be experienced doesn’t mean to say they don’t have their own internal doubts. You might even find that other singers can learn something from you!

So step up: go in with your eyes open, assume nothing, remember it’s not a competition, and find a way to enjoy yourself.

Chris Rowbury’s website:

Chris Rowbury


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