Preparing for a Live Performance (2)
Almost everybody who’s ever sung in front of an audience has had the experience of feeling nervous and losing confidence in one’s skills and preparation level. All of a sudden, even the easiest piece of music becomes a challenge, sometimes to the point of complete paralysis.
Why does this happen? For starters, we are concerned about sounding good; about what people will think or say; about making a good impression. In a nutshell, we give too much importance to ourselves instead of focusing on being an inspiration to others, which should be the primary goal of any performance.
Another mistake singers make while performing is to focus too much on the quality of their sound, thus forgetting almost entirely about the meaning or message of the song.
Dealing with the technical aspects of singing should be reserved for practice time, not the performance itself. If we focus deeply on refining our technique while we practice, we’re more able to forget about the technique while we perform and therefore be a better channel of inspiration for others.
Here are some suggestions to deal with stage fright:
- Practice your part with such concentration and consistency that you can sing it automatically and without effort, like oil flowing out of a barrel.
- Don’t make a big fuss about your singing. Sing as often as possible in low-key, relaxed settings—before friends, at small clubs, in private homes—until you can perform your piece perfectly and with confidence. Only then, after you’ve received the applause of many people, make your official “debut”.
- Make it a habit to think of yourself as merely an instrument through which inspiration can flow. Your job is to get yourself “out of the way” in order to convey that inspiration to the audience. It’s not your refined vocal technique that will touch the hearts of the people listening, but inspiration.
Special Exercises For Overcoming Stage Fright (by P. Yogananda)
- Deep breathing: Breathe deeply a few times, concentrating at the point between the eyebrows, just before the performance. That will remove timidity and insure self-confidence.
- Mentally rehearse very clearly how masterfully, joyously, and eagerly you are going to perform and enthrall your audience.
- Nervousness can be removed by tensing and relaxing. Take a bath two hours before, or immediately before the performance. Washing all the openings of the body parts with cold water can be substituted for a bath if time is limited.
- Get the best teacher to acquaint you with the best singing technique, and then, with all your inspiration and attention, master the technique as your own. Then keep on practicing your technique in rehearsals before a critical teacher. Don’t take criticism to heart and become discouraged. Use criticism as a stimulant to do your very best, removing all the faults in your performance for which you are criticized.
- Eat very sparingly, say at 2 p.m, for an 8 o’clock performance. A stomach loaded with food absorbs the full power of the attention which should be used in the performance. As a mother carrying a child is conscious of the extra weight within her body, no matter what she does, so an artist over-gorged with food is conscious of food all through his performance, and can not do justice to his singing. Singing on a full stomach also causes indigestion; it dulls the vocal cords. The energy and mind, instead of fully working in the vocal cords, become diverted to the stomach nerves to perform the work of digestion. This is the reason why an artist should work on the stage only on a light diet or an empty stomach.
Drinking or using narcotics: This drugs the mind, the very machinery which runs the will, reason, and emotion necessary for good performances. One should be drunk with inspiration instead of intoxicants. Inspiration consciously stimulates feeling, will, reason, and all the senses to do their best willingly with the feeling of joy. Intoxicants obliterate consciousness and are disastrous to real artistic development. Inspiration is very expanding. Inspiration is a better motive force for artistic work than intellectual watchfulness and meticulous carefulness for the exact performance of the technique. One must be watchful first and then intoxicate the watchfulness with inspiration, and then perform. To such an artist stage fright is a myth.
Excerpts from: The Power of the Voice: Transform and Heal Your Life
by Swami Kriyananda
“You should use your voice, not to show it off, but to express what you want to express. In this way, you become more aware of what you are expressing and how you are expressing it. As that happens, you also begin to understand things more deeply. This is another reason why expression is so important.”
Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you find a solution for it.