I started playing in a band when I was a high school student. A rock band! I was playing the guitar but gradually started singing and composing my own music. Since then I have been singing on and off as an amateur vocalist. I have played with different people in various places such as a concert hall, school, music club, bar and café. I sing pretty much any genres but recently I mainly practice jazz.
You may think I love to be the centre of attention. The reality is opposite. I actually hate it. I get really, really nervous when I am at a new place with new people. I love to be a hidden backstage staff rather than front person. This is a huge paradox of me. I am terribly afraid of people’s attention, but I have been choosing to go on a stage again and again.
Singing itself is a very interesting activity.
And performing in front of people is another one.
To me, the decision to perform on a stage is a huge motivation to ‘refine’ myself at that point. It gives me the opportunity to think of what I have and what I can offer each time.
If you want to present something in public, your work had better have some quality. If you sing, it is probably a good thing that your tunes and sense of rhythm are decent. But, regardless the pretty good techniques they have, there are people who can’t shine on a stage. What they are lacking is confidence.
Singing is not just hitting right tunes in right timings. Singing is an expression and experience. It is your story to be shared with audience whether it is an organized smooth flow or a collage of spontaneous, erupting pieces. The story teller has to be confident and vivid in order to bring the audience into the colourful world of his creation.
A good friend of mine said singing on a stage is like being naked in public. To be naked in public, you really need to be sure about yourself. Confidence is different from perfection. Likely you are not perfect but surely accepting yourself as the best you could be each time. And you are willing to share it with others.
As I said in the beginning, I much prefer to be a hidden backstage staff rather than front person getting people’s attention and criticism. Why? Because it’s safer. I like to be safe.
If I stay as a closet singer, nobody will laugh at my poor singing. I just practice, improve my techniques and probably feel satisfied with my achievement. But in exchange for the safeness, I limit myself.
You never ever get the same thing you get on a stage as long as you stay in your closet. It is something happening only when you have the audience, the real people and world around you.
You make up your mind and go on a stage. You perform your best, accepting and trusting yourself as the best you could be at the time. Then, guess what? The band members respond. The audience responds. Okay, it is true that not always the response is kind and pleasing as you wish. Sometimes you feel terrible after the show. This is the risk and the reason of our stage fright. But when a magic happens, the excitement, movement and amazement are truly special and unforgettable. It happens not because you are technically perfect but you are being yourself.
Performing on a stage is the whole bundle of fear, embarrassment, recognition, acceptance, decision making, planning, practice, trust and sharing. It is not an easy job. The reward is the experience that you are not alone. I start. I believe in myself and do my best. Then, people around you respond and work with you. Not I but ‘we’ make the stage together. ‘My’ stage is not a comparison with this ‘Our’ stage. ‘My’ thinking is not a comparison with a real experience interacting with others.
That’s why I keep going back to a stage.