Awkward shy dude would like to sing.
October 22, 2013 9:21 PM   Subscribe

I sang once with a group in college because I was walking down the hall and piped up when I heard a bad note, so they brought me on. Back then, the lead told me I should never stop singing and that I had a gift, but I did - because I was embarrassed by the attention.

I'm very self-conscious, have low self-esteem, and don't like crowds.

Are there any groups/organizations/persons in the DC area that I could try out my pipes with who would just, you know... NOT judge? Maybe see if I can ACTUALLY sing? I'm pretty good when the radio is turned up REALLY LOUD and it's country music and no one else is around! Karaoke is absolutely out of the question. That'd be terrifying.

I'd just like to find a group or person that won't judge me, make fun of me, or belittle me. That being said, I LOVE to sing.

I'm also wary that this post will forever be on the internet because Meta won't let me delete old posts (which is an issue that needs to be revisited, but that's a different issue), but yet this issue doesn't seem 'anon-worthy'. So I'm worried that I'll actually embarrass myself by even posting this should my singing actually suck, but whatevs.
posted by matty to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you're religious, how about a church choir?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:43 PM on October 22, 2013

I'm very NOT religious, and CBT advice ignored, I'll clarify the question:

Are there any groups/persons/organizations in the DC Metro area that I can approach to see if I actually have some singing chops without having to deal with public exposure?
posted by matty at 9:46 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel almost exactly like you do, and this is pretty much why voice teachers exist. Depending on your flavor of anxiety, one-on-one performance may feel more or less 'exposed' to you, but a competent teacher should never make you feel bad about whatever level of skill you're at. I'm sorry I don't have a personal, local recommendation but good luck!
posted by Space Kitty at 9:55 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd suggest you spend a few dollars and hours with some introductory lessons from a professional voice teacher. The Washington Music Teachers Association is a good place to find a professional private teacher.

You'll get a personal evaluation of your voice, exercises to improve your range and power over time, ear training, advice to prevent you hurting your vocal apparatus, and all in the privacy of a one-on-one setting that should be focused on your needs and desires in singing. If and when you're ready to progress to group singing, a good private teacher can also help you with recommendations about local groups in which you would fit well.
posted by paulsc at 9:57 PM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

DC has a large Gay Men's Chorus.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:10 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can you volunteer in a preschool? Little kids and their teachers are totally non-judgmental. A good way to develop confidence.
posted by Dansaman at 5:10 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to chime in to support one of your original ideas: joining a choral group. It sounds to me like you already have had a lot of feedback suggesting you can sing. Try not to let your low self-esteem get in the way of believing it!

Joining a chorus can be very helpful for people who feel socially awkward because even though you're in a social setting your activities are structured:
  • You are all there to sing a certain piece of music;
  • You are part of a group, but not the focus (the director is);
  • You're not the only one singing, so the self-consciousness is lower;
  • You have something to talk about (the music, or other music you like);
  • You don't have to talk with other people if you don't feel like it right then;
  • Learning and performing beautiful music is an amazing boost to self-esteem, and doing it with a group brings a nice sense of belonging.
(Judging from your post this may be preaching to the choir. Moving on...)

To find the right group, you might want to look for non-audition community choruses. Check out this Meetup page, for instance. This WaPo article also mentions the New Dominion Singers. Some colleges and universities also have community choruses; I found one at Catholic University.

One cautionary note: You say you are not religious. If that means you don't even want to sing music that refers to God, you're probably going to have a hard time finding a group that feels right, since so much of the choral repertoire arises from churches and scripture. I encourage you to keep an open mind. I'm not religious, but one of the most extraordinary, spiritually-meaningful experiences of my life was singing Bach's St. John Passion as a member of the community chorus at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Good Friday.

The ultimate bottom line: if you love singing, you should do it! Good luck.
posted by underthehat at 6:09 AM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

College choral groups might work out. I imagine every institution has at least one large group that one can slip into. Though at some schools, they are classes that are registered for. I'd keep the idea of them in mind as a future or secondary option.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:00 AM on October 23, 2013

Yes! I sing with the Capitol Hill Sacred Harp Singers. I think you'd really enjoy shape note music because we don't perform for an audience, everyone around you will be singing loudly so you won't feel like you stand out, and there is a wide range of skill levels in the group. The music is also gorgeous and benefits a lot from having singers with a good sense of pitch and harmony.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like more details. The group doesn't have its own website.
posted by capricorn at 7:07 AM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also, it is religious music, but it's in no way a religious activity and many of the singers I know are not Christian or not religious at all.
posted by capricorn at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Even church choirs accept non-believers. My grandfather sang in one for decades, and if he had any beliefs in the divine, he never mentioned it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:32 AM on October 23, 2013

I had a good experience singing with the Georgetown Chorale, who were very cool with me joining them for one season only, but it does sound like you'd benefit from private vocal coaching as well. There are also a ton of local a cappella groups if that's something you're interested in.
posted by evoque at 7:36 AM on October 23, 2013

I (non-Christian) have played in churches as an extra musician for holiday things, etc. You just have to respect that you are in their church, and that faith is very important to them. I'm sure that (some) choirs are like that, too.
posted by thelonius at 7:53 AM on October 23, 2013

The other thing you could do is record a song, post it somewhere (in a Dropbox public folder or whatever), and provide the link here so people can listen to it and give you feedback. The AskMeFi crowd overall seems to be a pretty positive group, so I think it's a safe bet that you won't get negative feedback, and the positive feedback should be helpful and encouraging to you. Not that it necessarily matters, since it's not a contest, but I guarantee you are a much better singer than I am, and probably much better than many or most people here (and even though I'm a terrible singer, I sing lots of songs to my daughter). As a general comment, I know it's not easy but try not to be afraid, because fear is the biggest impediment to growing, learning, and improving. It's like learning a foreign language - you have to be willing to take a chance on being wrong in order to have the chance to be right. Being wrong, imperfect, or sub-par is not failure - it's a stepping stone to success.
posted by Dansaman at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2013

I was a lady version of you! Shape-Note Singing did the trick. It is really fun, and it's all participatory, not performance-oriented. Try it!
posted by chowflap at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

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