Conquering the fear and finding my voice

It’s a while since I posted; covid times, life moving on relentlessly, as it does, all combined to make writing this blog something I’d start and not finish. Meanwhile I finished my MA, got a new job and have just finished my first year of doctorate studies, but more of that another time.

I’ve written before about my struggles with performance anxiety and in particular the shaking (literally) fear of singing in front of others. I could so easily have given in to this fear and stayed in the background. I could have stuck to the back of a choir, a voice in the blend.

But then the fear would have won.

Over lockdown I had singing lessons over Zoom. I became more used to the sound of my own voice, what it could and couldn’t do. In a break between lockdowns I sang a couple of songs in a showcase organised by my singing teacher and streamed online. I shook so hard you could see it on the playback. But I did it.

This New Year I made myself a promise. To sing, to perform in front of people every opportunity I got. To stop accepting the fear and to fight back. I told my singing teacher and everyone I could what I was doing, so I couldn’t chicken out. I sang in front of the community choir one Friday night, and the Salford choir the next Saturday. I was shaking less. I was breathing more. My voice was stronger.

I started singing in the car with my friends on the journey back from choirs. I stopped caring I was getting the words wrong.

And then…this week it happened. I conquered, I looked the fear in the eyes and told it I was done with it. I stood up and didn’t just sing, I performed. It felt a little like an out of body experience, to be fair, as I allowed myself to become the character of the song, not Helen. There were no nerves once I began, just the power of finding my voice at last. I left those watching speechless, and apparently (although I was too stunned to notice) on their feet applauding for a while.

I loved it.

I couldn’t have done this at all without the support of my incredible inspirational singing teacher Ashley Mellor ( and the wonderfully supportive Staffordshire Choirs Association (

And I can’t wait to do it again.