Sing Without Anxiety
© 2007 Lori Joachim Fredrics
If you are a singer with an upcoming performance, for which you are thoroughly musically prepared and are certain that the repertoire you are performing is within your technical abilities, and yet you are still worried that you may experience unbearable stage-fright, feel free to book a coaching with Ms. Fredrics to explore the causes of your anxiety.
I have seen many gifted but sensitive students learn to sing but develop feelings of inadequacy as a consequence of not only their own issues but a result of a psychologically insensitive teacher. What good is developing the ability to sing beautifully, if you don't think you are good enough to share your talent with the world? I understand that while many teachers are adept at teaching their subject matter they still manage to crush their student's confidence. This sometimes can be a subconscious result of the teacher's own psychological issues."
I am confident that I can help you reduce your anxiety and enable you to gain confidence along with the technique and knowledge you are gaining from your present teacher. Make no mistake confidence is no substitute for dedicated preparation and talent, but skill without guts gets you nowhere."
When I am about to perform I feel ‘electricity' in my body. I think “I have done all my preparation and now I have the opportunity to share great music and drama with the audience. I consider it a privilege to do so.” I know that the excitement I feel will ‘wake me up' and assist me in being able to present what I have practiced to the best of my ability.
My tips for reducing stage fright:-
1. Accept your “nerves”, use them to your advantage.
Feeling butterflies? This is natural, you are about to perform. Adrenaline is coursing through your veins. You don't feel normal. The adrenaline is good. It means you care. An inexperienced actress once confided to legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt that she never suffered stage fright before going on stage. Bernhardt responded: “Don't worry, it comes with talent”.
Skilled performers use their feelings of nervousness to give their performance that added sparkle and believe it or not, accuracy. When a performer is too relaxed, too exhausted, or simply doesn't care enough to produce adrenaline a lack luster performance full of mistakes is likely to occur.
2.Be prepared! Know your words and music accurately and thoroughly. It is no fun for a performer to go on stage and have to think, ”what is my next line, what is my next note?” It feels like an exam! It is not interesting to an audience to see someone on stage looking towards the ceiling totally preoccupied with remembering what is coming next. Work sufficiently on your performance to develop the best interpretation for which you are at this time capable, and you will have something share with an audience. If you have prepared to the best of your ability go ahead and perform whether you are a beginner or someone with a fully polished talent.
3. Be yourself, have something to say. There already is a Rene Fleming, there already is a David Bowie and there already is a Joss Stone. If your aim is to be somebody else, you will become frustrated and nervous and fail because it is impossible. (Ignore this advice if, your aim is to market yourself as a tribute act!)
4. Most importantly, it is not about you, it is about the music and sharing it with the audience. It is not about the quality of your voice but how you use your voice to express your interpretation of the music. Charisma or having a magnetic personality is a function of how you make others feel. Focus on the audience and they will love you! The one thing a performer cannot afford to be is self-conscious! It is your job to put 100% of your mental focus on what you are expressing.
There is a wonderful book that shows performers exactly how to accomplish this. It is called “The Inner Game of Music” by Barry Green. Barry Green, a professional bassist, was inspired by the method of mental exercises developed by Tennis professional Timothy Gallwey. Tim Gallwey wrote the book “The inner game of Tennis” to share what he learned as a result of his observing the best tennis coaches. Barry Green applied and adapted Gallwey's methods for the performance of music.
I have found that students who have read the book and practice the exercises along with particular individualized exercises assigned during lessons find that their performance anxiety significantly reduced.
I have identified certain misconceptions and faulty patterns of thinking that feed into performance anxiety. When these ideas are explored and aspiring performers realize that there is an alternative, more productive way of thinking, it is easy to break the cycle of paralyzing anxiety.
My methods have worked on their own and also in conjunction with psychological therapy and beta-blocker medications prescribed by physicians.
Beta Blockers reduce the body's physical experience of “fight or flight” response. They are useful when the fight or flight response is so strong that performance is simply not possible. The down side is that beta blockers are also said to reduce the emotional level of performance thus creating a reliable professional performance but perhaps reducing the possibility of a thrilling, spectacular performance.
Beta-blockers will not reduce the negative self-defeating thoughts that “The inner game” method ELIMINATES.
I therefore unreservedly recommend:-
"The Inner Game of Music," by Barry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey, (Doubleday, New York, 1986).
Please note that I have never met nor corresponded with Barry Green and I have no connection with Doubleday books.
I have simply found his book to be helpful to my students.
Other excellent books on the subject of performance anxiety:-
"The Audition Process: Anxiety Management and Coping Strategies," by Stuart Edward Dunkley (Juilliard Performance Guides No. 3)
"A Soprano on Her Head: Right-side-up Reflections on Life and Other Performances," by Eloise Ristad
"Making Music for the Joy of It: Enhancing Creativity, Skills and Musical Confidence," by Stephanie Judy
"Anxiety and Musical Performance: On Playing the Piano From Memory," by Dale Reubart (Da Capo Press)