monday musings: i sell confidnece

Most of my clients are seeking confidence when they sing. I didn’t realize that I was selling confidence. Marketing and branding expert, Juan Garzon, guides entrepreneurs to find their message, to know how to best serve their clients. He asked what I did; who my clients are. I told him that I teach singers about their voices, and how to improve technique and work on performance. A few inquiries later he said: Oh, you’re selling confidence. Have you had an epiphany before? One of those mind shifting realities that makes your head fuzzy and then suddenly clear?

A voice teacher is an unlikely attendee in a pool of entrepreneurs seeking this kind of advice. At least, I have never met any other voice or other music teachers at the networking events I’ve attended over the years. More than half of the people I meet at these events immediately blurt out: “I can’t sing!” when we reveal our careers. Another reminder of how fear rears its head in my world. Psychology Today reveals about 25% of people report being afraid of public speaking. They report:

This fear is similar to others who are faced with getting in front of a crowd and performing like athletes, actors, and musicians… When faced with standing up in front of a group, we break into a sweat because we are afraid of rejection.  And at a primal level, the fear is so great because we are not merely afraid of being embarrassed, or judged. We are afraid of being rejected from the social group, ostracized and left to defend ourselves all on our own. We fear ostracism still so much today it seems, fearing it more than death, because not so long ago getting kicked out of the group probably really was a death sentence.

What drives those of us who choose to sing in front of other people? Most of my fellow performing musicians would likely say that they have to do it. Can’t imagine not doing it. I wonder if it is a deep subconscious need for acceptance.

I know that my pull to the stage at a young age was to escape real life, which could be hard. The stage brought safety, a place to hide, a place to get attention. Is that what others seek? If you’re a performer, I would love to get some feedback to why you choose to do it!

Half of my clients are over 40. They are seeking how to sing or how to sing better, and how to gain confidence, whether they choose to perform or not. One of my clients reported a breakthrough moment: she participated in a game with friends where she had to deliver lines in an accent. Not only was it fun, but she was good at it. We make funny sounds, and sometimes accents, in her lessons, and it helped her play. She was told she was the best and most consistent player in the room. She may sing a song in front of people for the first time next month. A game speaking in accents is a good start!

I see their confidence grow with every performance. I see the light in their eyes when they make a different sound; when their muscles release, and throat frees up and it feels easier to make sounds. Most of them are scared, and they do it anyway. Nerves make their palms sweat, maybe knees shake, hearts race, and their breath becomes shallow.

They do it anyway. And, they do it again. And, each time it gets a little easier. They want to be liked. They want to be good enough. It may be deeply coded in our genes to seek approval and acceptance... to be safe.

And, some of us choose to do it in this wonderful art form of singing, which actually takes a steady voice and full breath (nerves are our natural nemesis!).

A chance to settle the nerves a little can boost confidence for a performance. That’s why we practiced the “superhero stance” at my most recent Performance class. Another Psychology Today story reports a study that shows 2 minutes in this stance or other high power poses, boosts testosterone and decreases cortisol (stress) levels. Give it a try before you do something that’s making you nervous.

By the way, did you know Lynda Carter (our original Wonder Woman) sings?!! And, I know one of her back-up singers, also an amazing superhero singer - Kira Small. Check them out!!

I believe in you. You believe in you too!