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Episode 30 – Singing with Confidence

How to gain more confidence is by far one of the most important things I’m asked.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to singers, the biggest desire is better high notes (no surprise), however, the second – you guessed it, how to get more confidence as a singer.

In this episode I offer some tips on how to feel confident and how to be with yourself when you don’t feel confident.

Some things may surprise you…And that’s okay. (-:

Listen and enjoy!

Download this episode!

The Inner Singer Podcast

Episode 30 – Transcripts

Singing with Confidence

Well, hey there, everybody. This is Mike Goodrich. Thanks for listening to The Inner Singer Podcast. Welcome to episode no. 30.

We’re going to talk today a little bit about something that people seem to be very, very interested in, especially singers, and that is confidence.

Now, over the years, I have surveyed my list of subscribers (which is in the thousands) a couple of times at least to ask them what it is that is the most interesting to them, what they want to learn, what are they most interested in me giving information about. And all the time, the second bit of information—

The first is always “I want better high notes.” Let’s face it. We all want better high notes. So, the first is always “I want a stronger mix and better high notes.” That’s always first.

Now, running a close second to that—and I mean a very close second to that—is confidence. I want to be more confidence when I sing, more confident when I perform.

So, let’s look at that just a little bit here, and let’s look at this confidence issue and this confidence thing. And of course, a dictionary definition of confidence would be “a feeling of certainty, a feeling of surety,” “I’m sure that I can do that. I’m confidence in myself, meaning I’m sure that I can accomplish this thing. I’m sure that I can learn this thing. I have a good sense about this. I feel good about this,” and various things like that. But confidence is really an interesting little thing.

Track with me on this. This is how I look at it and how I think about these things. You can have a lack of confidence on one end of a stick. And on the other end of the same stick, you can have confidence.

So, let’s say on the lack of confidence end of the stick as far as singing goes, you don’t feel good about your voice, you are afraid to get up in front of people even at karaoke, you don’t like the sound, you’re afraid you’re going to forget the words, you’re worried you might not get the note, you’re worried people might think, “Oh, who the heck do they think they are to sing? They don’t have a very good voice.” You’re worried about what other people think obviously. Or you’re worried that you have such high standards and you’re not going to be able to reach them.

And so, we start going very introverted. We start playing very, very small. And then, we define that as saying, “Okay, really, I lack confidence. I’m just not a very confident singer.”

So then, asked to observe what might be the opposite of that, say, “Okay, what would be a behavior that is the opposite of that be?” Well, I’d feel great about my voice. I’d feel good about getting up in front of people. I wouldn’t care what they think. I would just get up and I’d sing and I’d have fun.”

And all of that is great providing that you’re not doing what—I got from a gal’s book. I can’t remember the name of the book, and I can’t remember the person. It was years and years ago. She used to call that “hi-ho silvering.”

Back when I was a kid, there was a show called The Lone Ranger. His horse was named Silver. He wore this mask, and he had this sidekick. It’s probably totally politically incorrect these days.

But anyway, he would go to ride his horse and he’d say, “Hi-ho, Silver.” So, she recalled it as “hi-ho, Silver.” You’re hi-ho silvering.

So, imagine, you’re really feeling a lack of confidence, but then what you do is you try and pump yourself up because you don’t want to be on that end of the stick. You don’t want to be on the end of the stick that doesn’t feel confident. You want to be on the end of the stick that feels confident, pumped up, motivated, ready to go, take charge, “I’m in control,” all these things that we’ve heard, all of the self-help thing people of today talk about—which is great, I’m not faulting that by any means.

But they are too different ends of the same stick. And this was where I want you to track with me and put this on your—as my friend used to say—thinking and pondering shelf if it sounds a little odd. Rather than rejecting it right away and saying, “Oh, wait a minute! This guy is nuts,” give it a chance to think about it. Feel into it a little bit, and imagine that maybe there’s a different way. Maybe there’s a different way to go with all these confidence stuff.

So, again, we’ve got our stick. We’ve got, on one end of the stick, we’re very introverted and we’re feeling very shy and we lack confidence and what-have-you. And on the other end of the stick, we’re standing up straight, our chest out, we’re hi-ho silvering and we feel really good about ourselves. We’re really confident, really motivated. We can do it. We can take control. We’re going to power through. I’m going to push through the fear. I’m sure we’ve all heard all of that. And again, nothing wrong with that except you’re still on the stick. You’ve still got the same thing going on. You’re just playing the opposite game.

So, what if we move you off the stick for a second? Is there another option? Is there something else at play here? Is there a way to feel what the world calls confidence without having to pump myself up, without having to motivate myself without all of the mental fatigue and hi-ho silvering to push through the fear and get myself onstage or to get myself to singing karaoke or to get myself to do whatever. Is there another way? Is there something else available to me? And I offer this as another option as well.

Now, again, there’s nothing wrong with hi-ho silvering. There’s nothing wrong with motivation, pumping yourself up. Totally nothing wrong with that. But it sometimes can be rather short-lived and it takes a tremendous amount of mental effort. And sometimes, we’ve got to admit, we’re just not in the mood. We’re just not in the mood.

Somebody says, “Let’s go out to karaoke tonight.” “Yeah, okay. I’m in a pretty good. I’m feeling strong. I can pump myself up. I can do this. I can face my fear. I can go for it. Yeah, let’s do this.”

And then, sometimes, you’re going to be like, “You know what? It’s been a tough day. It’s been a long week. I can’t do this tonight. I can’t pump myself up. I don’t have it in me. I’m just going to stay home and watch a movie or something.”

Again, there’s nothing wrong with either one of those scenarios unless there can be another option. And what if the other option is being present with the part of you that feels a lack of confidence?

Now, let me say that again because it’s kind of weird, let’s face it—although I have said these things before. Be present with the part of you that feels a lack of confidence.

So, instead of jumping into the game, motivating, pumping up, doing all these things just to sneak you from one side of the stick to the other, what if you are mindful and observe the part of you that is fearful and lacking confidence?

And what if you can bring some understanding and some love and compassion to that part of you that just doesn’t feel confident, that just doesn’t feel like getting up there and singing, that feels like they can’t take a defeat?

They just can’t put themselves through it. They can’t stand up and not be good tonight. They can’t face it. You’re just not going to do it.

What if we can sit with that part of ourselves who feel that way. Goodness knows, we all do at times, I certainly do. And what if we can just bring love, compassion and presence to that moment and honor to that part of us that is a scared little child that doesn’t want to be embarassed or that has such high standards that he/she feels that you’re just not going to be able to live up to those standards.

Just sit with that for a moment. Feel into it. Watch that part of you that’s afraid. Create space in yourself for that part to have a voice, for that part of you to express itself, for it to be okay, for that part of you to be afraid and to lack confidence, and to not judge it as there’s anything wrong with you because you don’t feel confident.

What we usually do is we look, we say, “I am afraid. I don’t feel confident. And I should feel confident. Therefore, there’s something wrong with me. And that makes me feel even worse. Oh, my gosh! I’m just not even going to try to do this.”

So, what if instead of taking those steps, we bring mindfulness and awareness to the fact that in this moment, we don’t feel confident, and that that doesn’t mean anything about us. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not even something that we have to change. Perhaps we can actually go and sing anyway.

Is there a chance that I could feel a lack of confidence and still do this without muscling my way through it? I have the option. I can push through the fear and muscle my way through it and deny that I feel afraid and positive myself right into getting on that stage and hi-ho silvering myself through it or I can bring real mindfulness, awareness, love and compassion to the part of me that’s afraid, the part of me that doesn’t feel confident.

I can realize it does not have anything to do with me. It doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t make me less of anything. I can bring absolutely no judgment to it. And then, I can ask the question, “Can I go do this anyway even though a part of me is afraid?”

As an aside, there’s a wonderful baritone, a Metropolitan Opera baritone. I might have mentioned this before, but it bears mentioning again. And his name is Sherrill Milnes. He was amazing. He’s a little older now, of course. He may still sing and do some directing and what-have-you.

But anyway, at the time, he was the baritone du jour. He was the baritone of the day at the Met. Fabulous! He used to sing with Placido Domingo all the time. He has a terrific voice. He’s a terrific actor, interpreter. He had great high notes for a baritone. He used to sing tenor high notes for goodness’ sake.

I saw him in a masterclass one time. Somebody said, “How did you get rid of your nerves or something like that? How did you stop being nervous? How did you get rid of your nerves?”

His response was, I think, shocking to everybody because of where he was at the time. He was at the top of his career, talking to these would-be opera singers.

He said (basically, I paraphrase), “I didn’t get rid of my nerves. I just learned how to sing with them.”

That was huge to me at the time because that’s really a gift that he gave himself to say, “You know what? I’m nervous.” And rather than pushing through or fighting or anything, what if I just learned to be with the nerves.

And so it really is amazing with this whole singing thing because we’re so judgmental of ourselves anyway. Oh, my gosh! I mean, as I’ve said in the last podcast (and I think it was the last one), Beniamino Gigli who’s a fabulous, fabulous tenor (he sang until he was 80) on record of saying he was only in good voice three times in his life—one of the msot recorded and popular tenors that ever lived. That’s some high standards. Those are some high standards.

And that’s not totally unusual for us as singers. We’re all a little bit silly like that. We sing well. Somebody says, “Wow! You were great.” In the back of our mind, we’re thinking, “You should’ve seen us yesterday. You should’ve heard my rehearsal.” Yes, that’s how it always goes.

So, we’re all nervous. We’re all singing with nervousness. Luciano Pavarotti used to say, “If you’re not nervous, there’s got to be something wrong.” I mean, you’re going out to sing. It’s very exposed.

But these folks learned how to be very accepting of the fact that that goes with the territory. And maybe they don’t name it. Maybe they don’t look at nerves as “I’m not confident.” Maybe they just look at that as “Well, I’m nervous.”

There’s a lot in the name. There’s a lot in framing something. There really is a lot in framing something. When you say, if you say, “I’m not confident,” is that really true? Are you not confident ever?

And for those of you that are not confident singing, I invite you to take a peek at your life and see if there’s any place in your life that you are confident? I mean, I have a lot of areas in my life where I lack confidence. And then, I have other areas in my life where I’m really confident. And usually, those are the ones that I don’t pay any attention to.

So, historically, flying on a plane is not my favorite thing. I’ll admit it, not my favorite thing. I do it. That’s not my favorite thing. But speaking onstage in front of a whole bunch of people, I hardly even think twice about. I don’t even take up notes most of the time.

Whether I’m talking about mindset, the inner singer, performance, technique, it doesn’t matter. I guess I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve done the work. And speaking on a stage in front of people is kind of fun to me. It’s not really something that I don’t feel confident with.

And it’s also something that I feel in tune with. I get up and I feel the energy of the room.

And that’s why I don’t like to prepare too much. I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life anyway. I feel the energy of the room and what comes out is generally what will serve the audience and be fun for me.

If I have an agenda and I go through everything just to make myself more confident, then I start talking about a bunch of things that don’t resonate with that particular audience because I didn’t even bother to tune into their energy, then that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

So, what I’m saying is look at your life and see. Is there an area or two or three that you just don’t even think about, that you’re just good at, that you feel comfortable at, that you could say, “You know what? I’ve never thought of it before, but I’m actually really confident doing that. I’m really confident cooking dinner for eight people. I’m really confident going on a plane. I’m really confident making plans on a vacation. I’m really confident…”—fill in the blanks, whatever. “I’m really confident at the gym. I’m really confident in my yoga class,” anything.

Whatever you feel you’re good at that you could turn around and say, “You know what? I’m confident doing that. I don’t really think about that.”

And then, look at the things where you feel like you lack confidence. Say, “Okay, I’m kind of afraid to sing at karaoke or I get nervous at my lessons. I won’t sing for my family. I’m a little nervous doing this or that,” whatever as far as singing goes. Good! Anything else? Anything else that is an area where you feel like you lack confidence?

Is there an area that you ever felt less than at, that you got better at, and now you feel confident? Do you have that as a model? Is that a wiring in your brain that already exists? Have you ever learned anything? Have you ever not been very good at something, and now you’re good at it? I would submit yes, you have, even if it’s driving.

I remember when I was learning to drive. I was nervous. When I first got my permit, I was out that night with my buddy in the backseat with my mom. I think my dad was in the front seat with me. I’m driving us to dinner with my permit. And I’m looking around so much trying to be aware of my surroundings that I completely forgot to actually look in front of me at the car and almost rear-ended the guy in front of me. I just slammed on my brakes.

So, I must say, I wasn’t that terribly proficient at that. And now what? I don’t even think about driving. You guys don’t even think about driving. You just get in and go, right?

Now, they have to have laws for us that say, “Okay, you can’t text. You can’t do this. You can’t do that” because we all think the driving is so darn easy that we can text, cook a meal and wrap a package at the same time. They have to have laws against it.

So, just look back in your life and see, “Is there something that I wasn’t good at that I’m good at now, that I wasn’t confident at that I’m confident with now? And why am I confident with it now? What happened?”

“Did I have to hi-ho silver my way through it? Did I have to say, ‘I’m going to get good at driving! I can do this! I have control with my life!’ or did I just do it, and do it, and do it. And one day, I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of fun.’”

I remember when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I would say to my mom or day, “Okay, I’m going to go out for a little while. I’m just going to take a drive. It relaxes me.” So, it went from being as the total stressful, “Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe how anybody could do this.”

And I remember. I totally remember. When I first started driving, there was so much to think about, I began to be afraid to drive with other people because I thought, “Nobody can do this. Nobody can really be paying attention to this much stuff. I didn’t realize how unsafe this was. I’m not getting in the car with this person.” Did any of you guys ever feel the same way?

And then, all of a sudden, a year after having my license, to my mom and dad, “I’m going to go out for a drive. It relaxes me.” Totally different! Why? Did I hi-ho silver? Did I do any affirmations? Did I positive think my way into it? No, I just did it a lot and I relaxed into it.

So, that’s another thing. If we lack confidence, we can frame it in a way where we don’t make such a big deal out of it. We don’t make it so dramatic. We just say, “Okay, yeah. Can I accept myself, that part of me that lacks confidence, that doesn’t feel good about this, and can I just go and do it anyway for the love and the joy of it and let the chips fall.” I’ll just do it and do it and do it. And the next thing you know, I’m probably going to feel pretty good about it.

I don’t know how many of you got a chance to watch the video in the link that I sent you. Actually, I don’t know if—probably a lot of you aren’t on my mailing list, so you didn’t even get it. You may not know what the heck I’m talking about.

If you’re not on my mailing list, go to TheInnerSinger.com and just get on my mailing list because I send out some cool things.

And what I sent out was a link to a video by a gal named—I think it’s Cŭddy. I’ve never heard of it pronounced, so I don’t know if it’s Amy Cŭddy or “coody.” She does this thing called power poses. I won’t go into too much of it now. It’s a 22-minute video TedTalk. It’s fabulous! I rarely say you should, but you should definitely watch it if you haven’t. It’s just great stuff. And it could actually help with confidence, these power poses. So, p.s., go watch that video. It’s Amy Cuddy, power poses, the TedTalk. You can find it on YouTube or a Ted. If you get on my list and email me, I’ll send you the link.

Anyway, she has something that she calls “Fake it until you make it.” And again, she has done this in her own life. It’s a phenomenal story. Very, very cool.

So, if you bring lots of love and compassion to yourself, you reframe this whole lack of confidence into “I’m just a little bit afraid. There’s a part of me that’s afraid to do this for whatever reason. I’m afraid of what people will think. I’m afraid I have high standards. I won’t live up to them. I’m afraid I’m going to fail,” whatever. Okay. Now, try and change it in that moment. Be with it. Give yourself space to feel that. Bring yourself love and compassion for feeling that.

And then once you have that space and you’re observing, you’re practicing mindfulness, you’re in a much better place to be able to make a decision, “Well, you know what? I think I’m going to go do it anyway. It’s really not that big of a deal.”

And if you decide not to do it, then that’s okay too. I’m not telling you what to do here at all. I’m not saying push through anything. I’m saying create some space, so that you get present with what’s going on and then the decision becomes obvious to you.

“Yeah, I think I’ll go. This sounds kind of cool. I can do this. I can be with this part of myself.”

And then the more you do it, the more you do it, the more you fake it until you make it, the more you just go out for the joy and the fun. That’s probably going to happen. It’s just like what happened for me in my driving. It’s just like what happened probably for you and you’re driving. All of a sudden, one day, you think, “Wow! I didn’t even think about this anymore. I’m really confident with this. I don’t think about it.”

Track, like I say, other areas of your life that you just don’t think about. You’re really good at it, and you don’t think about it. And you could say, “You know what? I can translate that. I’m really confident in that. I already have that modeling in my brain. I have that wiring. I used to not be good at this. And now, I’m really good at it. I used to not feel comfortable with that, and I feel really comfortable with it.” Heck, we all speak a language, right? I know certainly we didn’t when we were born.

So, we have a lot of experience with this stuff. And there’s a lot of podcast—29 previous to this—that can go into all these things and do go into all these “why you don’t feel confident, why this and why that.” And that’s fine. All that’s great information. But for now, in the moment, feel into it, create some space. Give yourself some love and compassion and see if that space between you and the part of you that’s afraid or lacks confidence, see if that space inspires.

See if you feel something a little bit different than saying, “Okay, I don’t feel confident. I’m going to do everything I can to feel confident. I’m going to do my affirmations. I’m going to do this. I’m going to hi-ho silver myself up.”

And again, I’m not making anybody wrong for doing that. I’ve done all that stuff myself. It’s totally okay. If that’s what you want to do, that’s totally okay. I’m just offering that there is perhaps another way to look at this that takes a little bit less mental effort, that takes a little bit less energy, that takes a little bit less forcing through and pushing through.

So, those are just some ideas.

Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed doing it for you. I will look forward to chatting with you next week. Okay, bye bye.

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