The doubt is always there. Can I really sing? I’ve been doing it a long time, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good. I suppose it’s a subject of opinion, and my own opinion is no. I’m not really very good.
I can sing in tune (most of the time), I know that much. But does that make me good? Not particularly. There’s so much more to it than that. I have a lot of training, and as a result I employ a lot of techniques and emotions when I sing, but that still doesn’t mean that when I hear a recording of my own voice I don’t cringe and immediately think I should never sing again. I started singing because I wanted to, I continued because I enjoyed it, I pursued further training because I needed it. I’m not sure I could ever have enough training, because the voice is something that changes and needs to be honed.
But for my voice, there’s only so much technique can do; the rest is what I was born with. The tone of someone’s voice is the most personal and individual part, and while it can be improved, the foundation of it will always be the same. And I hate mine. Every time I hear my own voice I feel unbearably embarrassed that I ever thought it was acceptable for me to sing in public. To me, my voice sound childish and forced, and for lack of a better word, ‘yucky’. There’s so many singers I’ve come across in my life that have had little or no training, and their vocal abilities far surpass my own. It’s a source of wonder and envy for me, that these lucky people have needed nothing more than their natural talent to be wonderful. Although I must be clear, I don’t mean to say that these people haven’t worked hard. And then there are those who have had a similar level of training to me, and who are still a hundred times better. It’s frustrating.
I am a very self-critical person, especially when it comes to singing, I analyse every wobbly note, every moment of bad diction, every time I use the wrong technique, every time I use the wrong emotion. I want it to be perfect, and it never is. Unfortunately, this outlook does not help my confidence in the matter, doesn’t make it any easier to appreciate what I have. I often wonder what made me think I was ever good enough to go away to college and train,why I ever thought I was good enough for a career in singing, when I really don’t think I’m a good singer to begin with.
Perhaps I’m comparing myself to others too much. Everywhere you go, all over the world, there are wonderful singers. There were better singers at school, better singers at college, and better singers making careers. But as with most things in life, there’s usually someone doing it better than you, and it doesn’t mean you should give up. I struggle to believe anyone who’s ever complimented my voice, because I’ve heard it, and it ain’t pretty. And any time someone has said that I’m not a good singer, it has reinforced my own opinion. Who knows if I’m right or not, who knows if I really can’t sing or not. Opinions are subjective.
Self-doubt is a terrible thing, and I have plenty of it. But I think if you asked all singers ‘do you think you can sing’ and ‘do you like your voice’, a lot more than you think would say no. And not because they’re being modest, or because they’re looking for attention, but because they really believe it. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your own abilities, being confident, and saying yes, I can sing. But not all of us believe that to be true. Not all of us are confident. And that’s ok.
I’ll keep singing, because I enjoy it. I’ll still pursue it, because I enjoy it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t like my voice, because I do like to sing. And that’s all that really matters.