Behind the Shower Curtain


Why is it that I can sing so well behind the shower curtain? My pitch is perfect, I remember all the words, and my vibrato is amazing. I feel like I could go on stage to be a professional vocalist. However, my confidence and perfect pitch go into hiding when I try to sing in front of someone.

It’s the same with playing my instruments. I have a great assortment of instruments and we moved recently to a new neighborhood. When my new neighbors come into the house for a get-to-know-you visit, they see the instruments and say, “Oh, do you play?” I say, “Yes,” and we’re off. They expect a performance.

It happened just last week. A young man came to the door to inquire about doing our lawn. I had on a T-shirt that said, “88 Keys, 10 Fingers? No problem.” And then he looked beyond the front door and, from where he stood, he could see my piano, my hammered dulcimer, a guitar, and a cigar box dulcimer hanging on the wall. He said, “Oh, do you play?” And then he followed that with, “Do you jam?”

So I invited him into the house and he sat down at the piano and started playing his own original compositions. In the key of E! Aaaarrrgh, that just made this encounter more challenging. But I started improvising on my hammered dulcimer and we had a grrrrreat time creating a new sound. I forgot about my nerves. I played just like I was behind the shower curtain.

What was different? Why was I able to just relax and enjoy the moment, instead of fretting about making a mistake, playing the wrong notes, or forgetting the tune completely? Well, I wasn’t thinking about myself and what my hands were doing. I was lost in the melodies and the new harmonies we were creating together. I was enjoying his company, and I knew he was enjoying the mine because he kept on playing and playing..

So maybe that’s the key. Instead of focusing on my hands and worrying about striking the wrong strings, I should think about the people listening and how I might bring a little joy into their hearts with my beautiful instruments. My focus should be centered on my audience, instead of concentrating on whether or not I’m making a good impression.

In other words, my playing should be all about THEM, and not at all about ME. That’s the secret! If you get nervous playing in front of others, try changing your focus.

Happy dulcimering,



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!