Recently, I felt flustered through the beginning of a performance. My mind was wandering and grasping at myriad subjects even while the songs were completely unrelated. This left me feeling afraid and caused me to make a few strange mistakes that I had previously never made.
The experience really bothered me, and upon reflection, I realized that I didn’t do what I normally do before I sing.
I didn’t focus.
Ideally, your time spent on the day of a major performance will be all sunshine, hammocks, light breezes, and quiet meditation, but if it’s anything like most of my performance days, it’s full of travel, last minute preparations and –I admit it– caffeine. Therefore, a performer must take a few moments and gather up his/her brain into a usable mass.
[This is especially important before a recital because your exposure to the audience is so great, and the format offers you little time to rest and regain composure.]
Try these suggestions:
- Focus on your breath. Just watch the rise and fall of your body. Try to relax that little spot right below your sternum. Beware of trying to “prove to yourself” that you’re breathing by gasping and working too hard. Just take it easy and breathe.
- Focus on your posture. Are you holding any weird muscular tensions that are throwing off your balance? Let them go.
- Find some alone time. It is important to commune a little with your fellow performers, but you probably need to vanish for a few minutes before you go onstage.
- Do some light exercise. There are a few yoga poses that I especially like to do before I sing. They always help me sing, and they help me focus on my physical and mental condition at that moment.
- REALLY WARM UP. Sorry for the caps, but you must sing full voiced and in all registers of your voice before you will feel good about performing. Let ‘er rip a little bit before you go onstage…
- …But not too much. Don’t let your anxieties feed into your warm-up routine. Remember, you are warming up your mind as much as your voice, and you should be paying attention to what you are doing. I once listened to a good baritone completely exhaust his voice before a major performance out of fear that his voice was already too tired to perform. You can’t sing your high notes in advance, so chill out once your voice is good and warm.
If you are feeling genuine fear, along with the above suggestions, try these:
- Remind yourself that if you fail, your life won’t be over.
- Remind yourself that you won’t fail.
- Remember, you cannot solve the future in your mind. The best way to be prepared for any mishaps is to stay present.
What strategies do you employ right before a performance?