Singing and Self-Worth

One of the things that makes singing so hard is that our self-worth is bound up in our performance. Failure to achieve a standard of singing can lead to serious self-esteem problems and sometimes even stop people from singing.

When you play the tuba, or the flute, or the piano, you can walk away from your instrument and still be you. It’s a lot easier to say “I failed” when you’re an instrumentalist – a singer is more likely to alter the message to “I’m a failure.”

What can we do about this? Frequent reminders that you’re not your instrument, combined with the skills-based education to help singers improve.

For singers, I highly, highly recommend the hard work of listening to yourself on recording. This accomplishes three things. First, it gives you immediate feedback. Second, it increases the time you spend thinking and analyzing what’s working and what isn’t. Third, and most important, over time it will divorce your instrument from you. You will develop the distance from your instrument that every instrumentalist already has, and begin to be able to do the hard work of failing your way to success without risking a crisis of self-esteem.