October 7, 2012

Mic Fright

I have no problem getting up in front of people and performing. I've been doing it since I was a five-year-old squeaking out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the violin. Two people or two thousand, friends or strangers, solo or in a group, it doesn't phase me. Want me to put on a pink wig and sing a song I composed myself in Spanish? Dance to "Baby Got Back" in front of the entire student body? Earnestly recite poetry or psalms or lead a group discussion? Been there, done that. Needless to say, I don't suffer from stage fright.

Put me in front of a microphone, in front of an audience, and I'm fine. But put me in front of the same microphone and hit the "record" button, and my nerves turn to water. I forget everything I've practiced, everything I know. All I can think is "No mistakes! No mistakes! This is permanent! Don't mess up!" Every tiny flub is magnified a thousand times: A slightly misplaced finger that would otherwise be smoothed over becomes an obvious wrong note; a tiny glitch in the rhythm becomes a stumble, and suddenly I'm hopelessly lost.

I don't know why I suffer from "mic fright." Maybe I haven't had as much practice recording myself as I have playing for others. Maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist. Maybe I just need to get really, really drunk before I try to record anything so I'm incapable of stressing out. I don't know.

What I do know is that I have 32 years' worth of songs I've written stored inside my head, and if I want my music to outlive me, I'd better start backing it up somewhere. That means recording my songs, whether I like it or not. I've tried to do it before, and was always able to find some excuse to stall. I couldn't record yet because I needed this piece of software or that piece of hardware. Well, basic sound recording is so brain-dead simple now that I have no more excuses.

I'm setting myself a goal of recording one song a week. They don't have to be in any particular order. They don't even have to sound good. They just have to get done. If this helps me to get over my mic fright, so much the better, but that's not the point. I need to push past what's holding me back and get my songs out in the wild, where they can be heard and sung and, with any luck, enjoyed.


  1. Haven't been in front of a mic enough to know what it's like (though that is a long term goal), but otherwise I know my nervousness comes up most in smaller gatherings where I know some of the people well.
    As for remedies? Just saw this today: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/08/dont_forget_to_breathe/

    1. Thanks! That is helpful to know. The yoga program on my iPad has some breathing routines. I'll try one of those before my next recording attempt.