I remember being absolutely petrified when in 3rd standard I had to recite a poem before my class. That was my first experience of speaking before a crowd – a classroom of 10 year old girls. It does not seem too daunting now, but then left every hair on me shivering. Since then, I have overcome that fear, and been extremely comfortable speaking, and dancing on stage.
So one would assume that I do not experience stage fright, which is true, as long as my performance is limited to dancing or public speaking. But that does not especially endow me with confidence in a field, one which I (conditioned to believe) am not good at. Such was the case with me and singing.
Ever since I was in the school choir, I was asked to singing at a low, base-like volume, so that my thick voice does not drown out the other nightingale-like voices. None of the voices should be preferred over the other right? After all, if you can sing in tone, and not forget the lyrics, you win half the battle. It was just a school performance. These incidences of being dejected then, do not seem like a big deal today, but did affect the child I was, and yet am.
At the age of 21, I decided to sing in public, and get rid of the apprehension that grew in me. The apprehension to sing in public had to die, after all, I would only be singing. It does not seem like something harmful. Then I practised, did embarrassing voice exercises, and decided to stretch myself. I love challenging myself, and while practising, I was glad I chose to do it. My song was Lady Gaga’s Speechless.
The minute I stepped on stage I knew it was only one song, and no matter how it went, it would be over soon. Behind the mask of the mike, which stood right in my face, (since I was an amateur at adjusting it) I sang the whole song, thanked the joyful crowd, and stepped down. The difference created in me, between stepping onto and down from the stage, was realising that the apprehension was just as invisible as the perceived stage fright I had when I was 10. After the recitation, and singing, was done I realised that inertia keeps (most of) the crowd where they are. They will listen to you, and the least you can do, is smile at them even if you are nervous.
Since then I sang for 2 full gigs, and have received song requests each time – something I see as a symbol of not sucking. At a friend’s gig recently, I was asked to sing a song to end the gig, and we received our first ‘once more’ from the crowd. It was exhilarating. I feel there is much to improve, and learn from this experience, beyond the needed practise. The learning is to not doubt your self when you do something with love.
(I dearly thank Roy who has been guitar-ing and helping with voice training, and Tanmay who has been playing the keyboards for the songs I’ve been performing. And Roy and Aayushi who cheered me when I took over their gigs, to over come my apprehension.)
This is a small home video, taken 10 months publishing this post.