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Be Still My Beating Heart

Stage Fright is both emotional and physical. You feel fear. Your mind screams at you not to walk up on stage, open your mouth, try something new and scary, humiliate yourself. But if all that noise stayed in your mind, you’d be okay. You could press on, no one would know, right?

But no. It’s not just in your mind. Your heart races. Your mouth gets dry. Your hands shake. Heck, maybe your whole body shakes! And when you’re singing, even worse, your voice quavers. In fact, to your horror, it might quaver so much it falls off the note you meant to sing, the one you know you’re supposed to sing, the one you sang just fine in your car on the way over.

Fortunately, there are things you can do for both your mind and body to help you get past that.

Let me start with the physical. Number one, eliminate caffeine. If you have stage fright, your body is already in panic mode, pumping adrenaline into your system. The very last thing you need is caffeine. You do not want energy drinks, coffee, tea, dark chocolate, or any other stimulant in the hours before you sing. Even if you feel sleepy one minute before setting foot on stage, you’ll wake up the second you do, and you’ll be glad you don’t have any caffeine.

There are other physical elements to keeping your voice strong. Long term, it’s a good idea to get physical exercise. The stronger your lungs, the easier it is to sing. Being fit also tends to slow your heart rate, which you desperately want when you are battling fear. If you have allergies, an antihistamine will help keep your throat open. Avoid anything which irritates your throat before singing, especially sweets, baked goods, citrus or dairy. Drink plenty of water, and if you can get your hands on some licorice tea, even better. When you’re physically fit and your throat is strong and clear, you will feel calm as soon as you hear the first note.

Hopefully these steps will allow you to start to enjoy the process, because why else would you be going to all this trouble? The more you start to enjoy it, the more you will start to relax.

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Singing in Public When You’re Afraid – Where do I start?

1. Try something new.

If you have never done any singing in front of anyone at all, there are many ways to start. One of the easiest things to do is join a choir. Most churches and schools have a choir, and you may find a community based one in your town or local area. For some choirs it helps to read music, others will hand out rehearsal CDs to help you learn the music by ear. Your own skill level will influence where you feel comfortable starting, but make sure you always look for ways to challenge yourself to learn new skills. If you’re a beginner, look for someone who is experienced and get right next to them. Listen to what they do, and do the same. Make sure they are actually good at singing, though! The choir director can point you in the right direction if you ask.

Taking voice lessons is a great option, but do your research. Make sure you find a teacher who understands your preferred style of singing. If you aspire to pop singing, then classical or opera style lessons will actually teach you the opposite of what you need! I’m not saying you can’t try other singing styles later, but focus your efforts to start with.

The best thing about voice lessons is you will have to force yourself to sing in front of someone. If you keep at it, you’ll get used to singing in front of at least one person. That may seem like a small step, but it’s actually the biggest one. Singing in front of a handful of people is almost the same as singing in front of one. Singing in front of a roomful of people is only a bit harder than singing in front of a handful. And singing on stage is only a little bit harder yet.

One voice teacher I’ve learned a lot from is Seth Riggs. He has a stable of instructors all over the world who teach his methods. I’ve also been intrigued by Ken Tamplin’s rock ‘n roll singing academy. He also has some free videos posted on Youtube. There’s nothing magical about finding the one perfect instructor, the point is to try something that will move you in the direction of your goal.

2. Keep at it.

If you don’t like the first choir or voice teacher you try, then try something else. Join a Toastmasters group to get used to standing up in front of people and talking. One of the side benefits I found to getting over my fear of singing in public is that I no longer fear speaking in public. Anything you do to get out there, beyond your comfort zone, will help you.

3. Start small.

Don’t feel you have to be fabulous right out of the gate. You’ll only make yourself feel bad, and talk yourself out of doing it at all. Take one step, and keep doing it until it’s easier, and then before you start feeling too comfortable, try something a little harder. If you keep on that way, you’ll be a amazed at what you can accomplish.

Next week: Be still, my racing heart!

Someone else sings better. Why should I? Why me? Part 2 – Singing in Public – How to Get Over Your Fear

If you watch American Idol, you’ve probably seen the auditions everyone loves to hate, the ones we laugh at. They are so sure they’re fabulous, but they are really bad. It’s hilarious, unless it’s you.

If you’re afraid, deep down, that you are that bad, there are ways to find out before you publicly humiliate yourself. I don’t think that type of singer is actually likely to engage in deep self-analysis. So if you’re worried about it, it probably doesn’t apply to you!

But just in case, ask a musician or singer if you can carry a tune. Or record yourself singing a song, and listen to it. Do you wander up and down into slightly different keys? Does the musician you asked wince a little, before answering your question? Then you may have a point. Your best option at that point is to work hard, taking lessons from someone who can help you. Just make sure it isn’t a polite soul who nods at you and takes your money without being honest about what you need to work on.

Most likely, you can sing, but you doubt yourself. Of course you can improve, and you should never stop working at it. But each person has strengths and weaknesses. Each person has a unique style, perspective, and a story to tell. If you value others, make sure you value yourself too. There are people out there waiting to hear your story, told through music.

For the timid soul, you may be so hard on yourself, you never let anyone else have the chance to even hear you. You second guess yourself, and may even convince yourself you could never contribute anything others wouldn’t do better. But deep down, you want to try, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Maybe you have tried, and you’ve been slapped down. Sometimes bolder personalities will tear you down, just because they can. They might feel it leaves more room for them if they climb on top of you. Don’t cooperate with any bully! Be courageous, and find a way to shine at the things you do best. Keep practicing both your strengths and your weaknesses, and your steady climb will get you much further than you can ever imagine.

I have a Bible verse for you too, from the second chapter of Titus, verse 15: “Do not let anyone despise you.”

I’ve worked alongside a lot of very talented singers, and I’ve noticed some of the very best are quite humble. They don’t really act as if they are anything special. They just go ahead and do what they can, and keep at it. If you aren’t sure you’re really good enough to put yourself out there, you may just be one of the humble ones. Good for you, and don’t let it stop you!

Next week: First steps, when you don’t know how to get started

Inspiration Board, Old Sign

I love James Busvlogger’s videos! Here he shares a great idea for an inspiration board made from an old sign.

Great Grandma was a Cherokee

Great Grandmother Rose Wood was one quarter Cherokee. The Cherokees had a written language and lived in cottages when they were moved out from their original lands in the South. Now they are mostly in Oklahoma, but Great Grandma Rose wound up in Denver, Colorado.

I wish I knew more about her. All we have are a few photos with names and dates on the back. I think I got her eyes, though!

Latest homemade salsa

More salsa for our grilled chicken and salad dinner. I put in:

1 peach

1 pluot (half plum, half apricot, yum!)

1 small mild pepper from our garden

some sprigs of lime thyme from our garden

a couple of splashes Extreme Heat Mustard

Christ Demonstrates His Love for Us

Today I was thinking about how much Christ has done for me. He laid down his life for me so that I would have eternal life.

Then from there I started thinking about Ephesians 5:2, which says, “And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Later in Ephesians 5 when Paul is talking about Christians submitting to one another, starting with husbands and wives, he says “for the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23)

Since he equates head with savior, how must Paul have been thinking of that metaphor? Last night hubby Don and I just watched a movie about Lincoln and the Civil War, and I was picturing a soldier going to the head of the battle line. The front line goes in first, and brings all the other soldiers along with them. The front line takes a grave risk, but the other soldiers bravely join in the fight, pressing ahead with a common goal.

Then I thought of a baby being born. The head comes first, and then brings the rest of the body along with it, out into the world. They are tied together, the head and body. One goes first and then the other comes along too.

Then I thought of Christ, how He went first, teaching us how to live. Then He sacrificed for us. Now He asks us to come along with Him, taking part in His plan for the whole world to come too, if they will, into the kingdom of heaven.

“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” (Ephesians 5:29-30)

This means we don’t have to go it alone, whether as husband and wife (verse 31: “the two shall become one flesh), or as members of the same body with Christ attached to us as head. We are part of Him and He is part of us.