By this point of preparation, you can do little to fundamentally change your outlook on the nature of a performance. So your best bet is to set up conditions so that you are in peak shape to perform even if you still have lingering worries.
- Get enough sleep the night before. Pavarotti said in Great Singers on Great Singing that on a typical performance day he would sleep in until noon. Rest!
- Eat enough….but not too much. It’s scary being so stuffed that you cannot breathe, but it’s equally frightening to be so famished that you have no strength. This will probably deserve its own post in the future, but you must learn what is best for your body and your voice when you eat. Before a performance, try eating a light meal a few hours in advance. Then bring fruit to the performance to refuel while you are taking breaks.
- Beware of Caffeine. In my most recent Weekly Gathering, I posted Coffee Breakdowns: Is There a Link Between Caffeine and Hallucinations? This quote is particularly ominous for the potentially worried performer:
Caffeine heightens the physiological effects of stress, lead author Simon Jones says. When someone feels anxiety, the body releases the hormone cortisol, and when people drink plenty of caffeine-infused tea, coffee or soda, their body produces more of the hormone when they encounter stressful events. Researchers have proposed that cortisol may trigger or exaggerate psychotic experiences by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine flowing into the brain’s limbic areas, evolutionarily ancient regions involved in emotion, memory and behavior.
I tend to get fearful jitters if I drink a lot of caffeine before a show. It’s usually unnecessary, anyway. The material should be stimulating enough to keep you awake.
- Warm-up slowly. Noodle around with your voice and body throughout the day just to keep it moving. Then warm-up about a half-hour before the performance. Of course, your mileage may vary, so pay attention to the signals your body is giving out.
- Trust that you Know Your Material: If you prepared properly, your material is learned. Try to avoid singing it over and over because you’ll tire out your voice and your mind. If you must, just recite your words to yourself and remember your acting intentions.
- Relax and Focus: You must pamper yourself a bit on the day of a big performance. Rest, take relaxing walks, do very light exercise, meditate, eat refreshing meals, drink water, etc. Try to avoid moving heavy furniture on a performance day. Accept that certain things must be put on hold, and let them go.
Do you have your own ideas about how to stay relaxed on performance day? Do you agree that being relaxed on performance day is necessary? If you have any comments, please leave them below!