When Are You Ready to Start Performing as a Singer?
By Chris Glyde
As a vocal coach, I often get the following question: “When should I start performing around town?” I suppose I’ll start off by giving the most straightforward answer, which is that it depends on your goals, what you want, and what you’re willing to deal with.
If you’re feeling inspired and want to go out and start singing for people right away, then by all means, get started!
But will your voice already be great even if you’ve just started training it? Well, obviously not.
That being said, there are many skills that you need to develop as a singer, and if you wait until you’re a great singer to begin performing, this will take you much longer to achieve. If you don’t want to wait, but don’t want to put yourself in a position of being judged too harshly, then I recommend starting with karaoke.
Karaoke is a win-win. Most people will expect you to be terrible, so if you do poorly, no one will care. On the other hand, if you do well, people will be really surprised. It’s impossible to have a truly bad experience doing karaoke, and it is great way to build confidence in yourself as a singer.
While you’re building confidence, it’s important to work on your performance skills, a significant part of which is getting beyond the lack of confidence and to a point where you can focus on the message and the emotion of the music, rather than simply whether you made a mistake or not. Aside from that, this involves developing a stage presence.
This article is not about performance skills, but I’ll share some of the skills that need to be nurtured so that you can see that it will take some work and some time to acquire them successfully. As a singer, you will need to learn how to direct the audience’s attention and how to get them engaged in the performance. Maybe some light dance skills will be necessary, because singers who just stand there are boring. You need to know how to match the energy of the song, and you’ll need many ways to make the performance of different songs look different from one another. There is more than one way to accomplish all of these things. And these are just the basics of stage performance, but obviously there’s much more to it.
Now, many people would be—and are—concerned about having a great voice. Yes, it’s great to be the best singer in the room, or to know that you have this amazing voice, but you can’t wait for that to be the case before you get started. It takes three-to-four years to get all the foundational skills down for your voice, but most people do not have that amount of time to wait. That being said, it’s just not the most efficient way to learn, either.
Would you rather wait years to get a good voice and then struggle performing for the next couple of years, or would you rather build all of these skills at the same time and be a total badass after just three or four years? I imagine that most people would pick the latter!
What’s important to remember is to not make this decision out of fear. If you’re doing this from the perspective of “I don’t want to be judged because my voice is bad,” then it’s more important to do it this way because you need to get over caring about what other people think.
Have fun, and if you want any more advice, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author:
Chris Glyde is a guitar teacher and vocal coach in Rochester, New York. He loves to help singers break out of their ruts and become the singers and performers they’ve always wanted to be.