Performances are a funny thing, when you really think about it. You can practise daily for months on end, paying extensive amounts in tuition, but your fate, and ultimately your sense of gratification, lies in the hands of strangers in an audience. You can stand at the front, pouring out your heart and soul, years worth of training, and emotion, and be nothing more than a passing comment to group of people.
As a singer, your instrument is your voice. This makes any negativity (inward or otherwise, perceived or invented) seem that much more heart-wrenching. Any negativity you feel about your performance, can feel like a direct disapproval of your very own being. A musical-character-assassination, if you will.
This dependence on other’s approval is something that I have only recently discovered to be my downfall, and in many ways, the root of many of my insecurities as a performer. For years, practically since the days I started singing, my vision and belief in myself was vested in what others thought. After concerts, I would not consider myself a success unless a person from the audience complimented my performance, and equally, if they did not, I would assume it was because I was inherently bad at what I was doing.
It was only once I realised that my self-worth should not be weighted on other’s opinions, that my singing began to improve. I found that by allowing myself to make mistakes and not putting so much pressure on myself to succeed, created a more enjoyable and earnest sound. By allowing yourself to be your own affirmation, your own sense of worth is not decided by an assortment of strangers, but by you.
As a performer, it is only you know truly knows how hard you work, your areas for development, and equally your strengths. You know, deep down, when you’ve worked really hard, and that wretched portamento has finally started portray what the composer had intended.
Validation should come from that very moment,
when your hard work has come to fruition and all of the hours you’ve spent crying, laughing and arpeggio-ing are finally worth it. Validation should come from the soul-bearing pianissimo top A that you have trudged through a million vocal warm ups for; a sound that will bring you so much joy and beautifully composed anguish, all at once.
Validation should come from within yourself,
compliments from others are just a bonus.