Why is singing in public scary?

“I sing with a rock band.” These aren’t words I ever expected to say about myself but now I do. And despite the way I compulsively add phrases like ‘not seriously’ or ‘only for fun’ or ‘we don’t really do gigs’, (I know my compulsion is kinda sad but I can’t seem to stop) the statement still floors people.

Ordinary people achieving extraordinary feat of daring.

Ordinary people achieving extraordinary feat of daring.

Partly I think it’s because I don’t look like a rock singer. And partly I think it’s because the idea of singing in public with a mic and even a little bit of uninhibitedness, is an act many people find terrifying. Indeed I found it pretty terrifying to contemplate when I first started singing with my band (always in private) a couple of years ago. Even with them I was incredibly timid. So much so that one of the guys helpfully suggested I needed to ‘let go and sing from my ass’. Which was really good advice.

But why is singing so scary? When I was toodling around the scantily-populated steppes of Mongolia, every evening people would show up around our campfire and start singing. Granted, there’s not much else to do in the middle of nowhere, but the point is there are cultures that don’t make singing into such a performance. It’s something people just do for the joy of it and the sharing of it.

I tried to put myself in that frame for the gig and it actually worked. Apart from a little panic just before my first notes. And the moment partway through when I made the terrible mistake of letting myself wonder what I looked like up there. I can give you this advice: never think about that when you’re on stage; it’s very discombobulating, and then you have to recover and keep singing.

Anyway, I know some of you will want to see for yourself so here’s a snippet from the gig.

The crazy thing for me when I watch it is how much I thought I was movin’ and groovin’ up there – but R2D2 could shake it more than I did! The next barrier to cross I guess: dancing in front of an audience. While singing. I have new respect for real rock singers.


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