Go For It!
I stopped singing because my bandmates told me I couldn't sing well-enough.
I stopped playing guitar because I couldn't play well-enough. I stopped playing bass when I lost the use of two fingers on my left hand and couldn't play as well as I wanted.
I missed a lot by not playing music and singing.
There's a physical health benefit to singing. It's an aerobic exercise. It exercises our lungs and our diaphram and can energize us. It helps our heart and improves our circulation. We stand up straighter. It even tones our facial muscles.
There's an emotional benefit to singing. It increases self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of well-being, and reduces stress. It encourages creativity and helps healing. A well-written song puts people through an emotional change, and that can release pent-up feelings. It helps us express emotions that we can't otherwise express.
There's a social benefit to singing. It promotes bonding and brings people together. It helps us understand other people and empathize with them.
There'a physical benefit to playing an instrument. It increases the capacity of your memory and enhances your coordination.
There's an emotional benefit to playing an instrument. It teaches you perserverence, fosters your self-expression, and relieves stress. It also creates a sense of achievement.
There's a social benefit to playing an instrument. It improves your team skills, and boosts your listening skills. It also teaches you discipline. If you jam with other people, you have an instant social life.
So, play and sing. Go for it.
Playing and singing in public can produce all of the above benefits. It can also increase your level of frustration when you don't perform as well on stage as you do in your living room. And, it can expose you to criticism. People who are otherwise perfectly nice and polite will come up to you and tell you, "Don't sing. You are terrible." Or, "You need to go home and practice. A lot!"
Ignore them and sing anyway. Play anyway. If you want to play in public, find the appropriate venue. You might not be ready for Carnegie Hall, but you might do just fine in a nursing home or coffee shop.
People want to listen to music that moves them. Regardless of your level of ability, you can sing a song that touches people. Make a mistake on the guitar? Ignore it and go on. It isn't about playing slick licks. It's about connecting with people. Forget the lyrics? Admit you made a mistake, laugh at yourself, and try it again. Or move on.
Your audience will forgive you for making a mistake. It will not forgive you for having a bad time on stage. They want to enjoy the show. They will do that only if you enjoy performing for them.
For some reason, recently I was billed at a stage show as a singer-songwriter, not a poet. It was a short set. I could polish up some songs I used to do and go perform with my trusty guitar in hand. It's been several years, but why not?
The MC left me with an opportunity to say something funny as I put my guitar strap over my head. The audience laughed. I said something else, and they laughed again, and applauded. I was relaxed and they already liked me. I sang my three songs and talked with them and left the stage feeling really good about my part of the show. After the show, I got complements on my jokes, my singing and my songwriting. Sincere complements. From strangers!
It feels good to be singing and playing again. I'll never be the best singer in the world. I'll never be the best guitar player in the world. But I write (and co-write) good songs, and I can sell them when I perform them. People laughed at the right places in the first two songs, and cried at the right place in the last song.
The following week, I joined two friends and we did longer shows at two assisted living centers—a far cry from a night-time ticketed stage show with microphones and a soundman. We all had a great time interacting with the audience. It was every bit as rewarding as the stage show from the week before. While the audience might not have been as articulate, the response was every bit as rewarding.
And, I"m looking forward to playing in both venues again.
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