Most people don’t intend to sing for huge audiences - they just want to be comfortable singing in front of family and friends. But even that can feel intimidating! I’m Camille van Niekerk, singer and voice teacher with 30 Day Singer, and today I have 4 tips to help you sing in front of friends.
1. Choose your audience wisely!
I hope that all of your friends will be supportive and kind, but let’s assume that some friends are more supportive than others. If a certain friend has made fun of you for learning to sing, discouraged you from singing, or expressed jealousy in the past, don’t include them in your audience! If you’re already feeling nervous, you don’t need extra pressure or negativity from that friend. Instead, choose a friend or two who you know will be encouraging and kind.
2. Preface the performance with your expectations
Are you open to feedback at this time? Or do you just want the experience of singing for other people? Either way, it’s important for you to know where you’re at, and to communicate those expectations with your friends. If a negative or even neutral review would crush you, let them know! You might say something like: “I’m totally new at this, and I just want to gain some experience singing for other people. I know I can count on you to listen, and I ask at this time that your feedback only be positive. Once I’ve gained some more experience, I’ll be ready for critical feedback, too.”
If, on the other hand, you want to hear all feedback - including critiques - let your friends know! But the first step is knowing what you’re ready for.
3. Practice your singing AND your mindset
You already know: practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but it does make permanent. Working on your song of choice, rote repetition, selecting a karaoke track, recording yourself and watching back are all good ideas. But there’s one more thing to incorporate that you might not have considered: your mindset!
Once you’ve learned the song and feel confident with it, start some run-throughs in performance mode. That means: no stopping and starting over, recovering if you make a mistake; and it also means visualizing the specifics of that performance. Where will you be? Who will be there? Will you be sitting or standing? How do you expect you’ll feel? Let yourself visualize all of that, and feel those feelings. Now, imagine your performance going well. Envision yourself having fun. Think about how proud and relieved you’ll feel.
This might sound silly to you, but it’s a step of performance preparation that can serve as a shortcut for you, so you don’t need to have dozens of performances before you start feeling confident. Rather, you can practice in “performance mode”, wherever you want and as many times as you want, and reap some of the same benefits! This has been studied with athletes and musicians alike, and the improvements they make from mental rehearsal are on par with those of physical rehearsal.
4. Start with an easy, fun song
Your first performance for friends is probably not the time for “Listen” or “I will always love you”. Fantastic songs, but let’s work up to those! Start with a song that feels easy and is fun to sing. Even better - pick a song with a call & response section or a well-known chorus, and invite your friends to join. Many beginning singers have success choosing songs they think of as “silly” because it allows them to play a character and takes the pressure off.
I hope you found all of these tips helpful, and I wish you happy singing!