Ever had the feeling that your voice was compromised during a performance because you were so nervous?
I've definitely been there. You know the feeling...the butterflies, sweaty palms, racing heart...nerves! Over the years, I have developed a little pre-performance routine that helps me cope with my nerves.
I always begin a performance day by warming up first thing. If I have to then (re)warm-up later closer to the performance, I will. I stand in a stance that makes me feel powerful: hands on my hips with feet at shoulder distance apart OR with my arms extended over my head (think star pose). I take a few deep breaths there and envision myself having a successful performance. What would it feel like, how would I feel when finished, etc.
Breathing while my body feels expanded is very liberating. I feel like I can take huge breaths and really release air! The first thing to go when I'm nervous is my breathing technique, so if I can encourage my body to set up space to breathe, I feel better.
Then, I'll go through any part of the song I'm nervous about. Maybe it's a tricky rhythm, entrance, or pattern of notes. I'll check to make sure I'm accurate by playing the notes on the piano or listening to a recording. I never want the performance to be the first time I've sung the tricky part of the song that day!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that playing with Vinny (my sweet dog) or talking to my husband or family member calms my nerves. Hearing how excited they are for me/hearing their encouraging words always helps!
Also, here's a tip: Always have a little pre-performance snack handy to boost your energy right before. I despise the feeling of singing while hungry, but I also don't like singing if I'm too full. How embarrassing would it be to burp during your song?!?!? Oh dear...
I eat a Nutrigrain or a piece of fruit before concerts to give me an extra sugar kick :)
Then, right before I go on to perform, I tell myself that I'm going to have a great show or another positive affirmation: I can do this, I'm excited to sing, Singing makes me happy, etc.
Be kind to yourself out there, singers!
Maria Palombo is a Voice Instructor and Singer living in Central NJ. She is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio in Mercer County, NJ.