How to get started in singing confidently and enjoy songs

The benefits of singing are undoubted. Singing allows the true you to come out, it allows a freedom of expression, rarely seen in other acts. It is also character building since, for many people, singing in front of others, especially in public, is nerve wracking.

In the last few years, we’ve been bombarded with reality TV contests and with those, based on music, the underlying requirement has been for the performers to sing. As I mentioned earlier, singing allows for freedom of expression, and those of a good standard (among many average ones), combine the ability to perform and sing, by putting their emotions into the song, this being reflected in their entire body language.
One thing I have found, at least with the pupils I taught, is that they all had a favourite song, which they were unafraid to sing in front of me. I asked them to sing because I was interested to see their range of emotions and expressions in the process. I always found, they would come to life, even if they didn’t know the entire words to the song, nor were able to sing in perfect time or melody. This told me something which might seem obvious to some, but was interesting nevertheless: If you can sing your favourite tune freely whether in the company of others or alone, then YOU CAN SING. Of course, things might be more difficult if you’re unaware of tone (known as tone-deafness), but even then, being able to sing a song that resembles what you’ve heard is a sign of a basic ability to replicate something of what you have heard. The key then is: how do I get good/at least more confident in singing if I never felt I was great at it?
Simple suggestions might help. I have tried some of the following with my pupils:
      Start by listening to your favourite tune and see if you can feel the beat or nod your head to it
      If you can, then you’ve already got an (aural-based) understanding of rhythm and rhythm is the framework, the ‘skeleton’ which holds up a piece of music, especially a song
      Buy aural listening tapes/cds. 
      These come in basic levels . The best way to get the most out of them is to set aside some time to have someone (who should preferably be musical in some capacity) play back the sections that require you to sing back what you’ve heard. Each time you play the section being sung, get the other person to critique (in the most encouraging way) what could be improved and then try again. 
      Put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable for you. 
      This is the big one. If you have a lack of confidence about singing, find a way to gently ease you into a situation that pushes your comfort zone. Without doing this, you’re not facing your challenges head-on and it’s only by confronting those doubts/fears that you learn more about yourself and what you are capable of. You can make it as simple as deciding to sing in front of the family one evening/weekend. Record yourself, singing your favourite songs. This will psychologically ‘put you on the spot’ even if you’re alone. This is because you want to do your best and be pleased with what you hear if you choose to play back you recording.
      Find others in the same position as you. 
      If you really want to enjoy singing, search out others who are in a similar situation to you and take the initiative to either go with them to anywhere that’s an outlet for singing. It could be the choir, a band, even just going karaoke one night. Doing this also puts you into an unfamiliar situation where again, you’re leaning into your comfort zone and learning at the same time. The best (but boldest) idea is to start a local singing group where you and others, together with a musician you know, learn to sing and then perform your favourite songs. Again, search out local musicians, speak to friends, neighbours, even the local school music teacher and get their input into who might be interested in your idea. Put notices up wherever you can and make sure the people who do respond, have the same desire as you to improve and enjoy their singing.There’s a camaraderie and encouragement when everyone’s ‘in this together’, sharing a common goal..
What ever you choose to do, just remember that the real victory is in taking action against what you feared and the person you become in the process, rather than the achievement of singing beautifully or the improvement in your singing. Enjoy.

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