Friday, June 29, 2012

Phobias and Fears about Singing. Can I be Cured?

While we all have our insecurities in life, there are some that we manage to overcome and some that we don't.

In my case, I don't sing in public. I barely sing in private either, but only when I'm completely positive that there isn't another soul within earshot.

Nope, I just don't sing in front of other people.

Not even Happy Birthday at parties... unless you happen to be one of my own two children, in which case you better feel pretty special. And even then, that's only because I'm typically surrounded by a bunch of singing kids who couldn't care less if I'm feeling goofy, can carry a tune or am remotely on key since all they want is for me to cut the cake.

singing Happy Birthday

While some fears are just a part of us, I can pinpoint the time in my life when singing went from a normal activity to one that causes anxiety: in sixth grade.

That's right, sixth grade. So that made me, what? Twelve?

My elementary school included a Music Class that we attended a few times a week, which, according to my memories was mostly spent singing. I'm pretty sure that we were taught a bit about instruments and I vaguely remember being taught about the notes on the scale, but that was about it.

Although I could label a musical staff with the notes just fine, I couldn't sing them for you then and I can't sing them for you now. I recall one homework assignment where we had to go home and come up with our own short composition and I stared at those blank lines in completely bafflement.

Our teacher looked forward to the great scores that we would surely write... while I worried that simply dropping whole notes and half notes onto a page would somehow end up sounding like music.

blank music staff

But no, it wasn't the homework that caused my phobia of singing. It was the single phrase that a good friend of mine innocently said to me on the day that we were set to change our assigned singing spots.

We had always stood on risers in the same positions and, when told we were moving, my friend turned to me and, without any hint of malice at all, said, "Oh. How am I going to sing by someone else? You always sing off key, so it helps me stay on key."

Having not had the slightest clue that I was singing off key all this time, that moment has stuck with me ever since. I began mouthing the words in Music Class and have continued to this day. While I wouldn't consider it an outright phobia (Google has told me that the fear of singing is called Decantophobia), singing in public is just something I don't —and won't— do.

Silly? Maybe. But I'm sure I'm not the only one with a strange fear. What is yours?

(This is a featured post but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.)


Bertha Brown said...

I have the same fear. I know in my heart that I was probably meant to sing and don't think my voice is half bad. I desperately want to but singing in front of people makes me super nervous and I sound horrible because my voice shakes and heart pumps uncontrollably. I hope that one day soon I can overcome this even now that I am 30. My husband's family is full of singers and artist and wish I had the courage to hope on one of their tracks! Maybe one day. Maybe.