Thursday, September 17, 2020

Strategies For Performance Anxiety | Music Think Tank

You’re not alone if you feel anxious and nervous before performing in any capacity.  Performance anxiety affects 70% of the population worldwide.  Here are some strategies to manage your anxiety and have a great performance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Know the songs inside out, practice them till you can perform them in your sleep.  Pay particular attention to the tricky spots.  Practice until you get through the tricky spots consistently.  If possible, do some practice performances in front of a “low-stakes audience,” - your parents, children, a close friend.  Being well-prepared is one of the best ways to boost confidence for a performance.
Practice Making Mistakes
Remember, it’s human and okay to make mistakes.  What is your biggest fear when you think about performing?  Forgetting the words?  Voice cracking?  People booing at you?  Practice the song and mimic/imagine that worst case scenario happening.  Now imagine how you would work through it, and make it a graceful/victorious outcome.  For example, you “practice” your voice cracking, you don’t even show a reaction on your face, you keep going and end strong, smile and bow, and you imagine the audience cheering and smiling!  Ask yourself, if the worst thing happened, would the world stop turning?  Practice shaking off your disaster, smiling and enjoying the rest of the day, and celebrating your courage for getting up in front of other people despite your fears! 
Practice Connecting with the Music
At some point, your practice sessions should go from nailing the technical aspects, memorization, and staging/performance techniques, to just feeling the music and being in the moment.  Practice connecting to the song.  That means just loving what you’re singing - loving the melody, the words, the rhythm, everything that makes that song great.  Get into the music, completely immerse yourself in it, and don’t worry about anything else.
Dress for Confidence
Wear something you feel good in!
Arrive Early and Be Warmed Up
You don’t need the stress of running late adding to your nerves.  Warm up your voice in the car or at the venue so that you can feel confident that your voice is ready to go.  If possible, warm up your body too, by taking a walk around the parking lot or doing some jumping jacks before getting on stage.  Moving your body can you help you release some nervous energy.
Take Some Relaxation Breaths
As your time on stage approaches, take a few deep, grounding breaths.  Breathe in slowly (low, diaphragmatic breathing) for four counts, hold it for four counts, and breathe out slowly for four counts.
 Stay in the Moment
As you wait for your performance, say “no thank you” to your brain’s attempts to swamp you with fear and doubt.  Consciously make an effort to “be present.”  If you have to mingle first, really listen and participate in the conversations.  If you’re watching other people perform first, don’t compare them with you - enjoy their music and send them good energy as you want the same when it’s your turn on stage.  If you’re backstage waiting, look around and be curious about everything going on.  You can also take that time to give yourself an internal positive pep talk, “I’ve rehearsed a lot, I know the song.  I trust my skills and abilities.  Now my only job is to have fun with it and connect with the music.  I love music, I love this song, and I am grateful for the opportunity to create this unique musical moment in time.”
Fake It till You Make It
 Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the audience, or any individual in the audience, by putting them on a pedestal. This is where the well-known “picture them naked” or sitting on the toilet images comes into play - we’re all humans.  You got this.  Walk on stage with confidence, introduce yourself with confidence, adjust the mic stand with confidence (practice with a mic stand at home, too, so that you really can do it with confidence)…you get the idea. 
You Are a Vessel
Don’t think of your performance as a moment where you have to prove how talented you are, or a moment where a whole bunch of people are judging you.  Try thinking of it this way:  This is an amazing/fun/beautiful piece of music, and I have been given this opportunity to be the vessel for this song, to share it with people.  I may not be the VERY BEST vessel on the planet to deliver this song, but I’m the one that’s going to do it, and I’ll do my best to immerse myself in the song, so that others can connect with what makes this song special.
Reward Yourself, Baby
Plan to give yourself a treat after the performance is complete, it can be something small like going out for a drink afterwards with the people who came to support you, or a little gift to yourself, maybe a tub of your favorite ice cream, that pair of earrings you’ve been lusting over for a while, or a massage the next day!  Remind yourself, this is a celebration of you being you, of you sharing your art, and of you conquering your fears.  This is not about celebrating how well you did - some performances will be better than others, so why measure it?  Enjoy what you’ve done and give yourself that proverbial pat on the back - you earned it!


Your Online Singing Coach is LA-based professional singers offering live vocal coaching, singing lessons, and video courses for singers of all levels.


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