Stage fright is a common phenomenon, that many singers encounter as soon as they do something in front of other people. To be honest I don’t like the term stage fright because it suggests something quite negative, which it doesn’t have to be. There is nothing wrong with being nervous before a performance! It helps your concentration, improves your focus, and gives you energy. The feeling itself is not nice, but there are no tricks (that I know of), that make you get rid of stage fright completely, there are only ways you can minimize it!
Try to become aware of your expectations! Sometimes, when you go on stage, you have a specific image in your head, how the location will look, how many people will be there, and how you perform. But let me tell you that most of the time it turns out to be completely different. You need to realize, that it doesn’t have to be the way you had imagined it, so try to have a flexible attitude. If you can’t let go of your perfect imagination, your mindset might trick you into thinking that it is a terrible performance, even though it is just different than expected. One well-known stumbling block is the number of people you expect. If there are more or fewer people than you expected, you can get insecure. Furthermore, the presence or even absence of certain people in the audience can create stress! Don´t expect too much of upcoming performances, just go with the flow and see what happens. That way you can not get disappointed.
When you aren’t prepared, meaning, when you don’t know the lyrics by heart, don’t know how to announce, or don’t like your outfit, you have reasons to be insecure and stressed. All these sidelines should not be present during your performance! It is important to take care of these things beforehand so that you can concentrate on your performance and only! You want to enjoy the moment and share the joy, instead of being insecure and therefore stressed out. The longer you are in this music/performing arts business, the more you will get used to performing and the less time you need to prepare. The preparation also depends on the kind of performance you have though! If it´s a new project or a project you’ve been doing for 10 years, it greatly influences your preparation and confidence. It is of course also a personal thing, some like to improvise, others prepare every step meticulously… You’ll have to find out for yourself.
When you are relaxed or well-rested, nerves won’t get a hold of you as easily. There are different approaches to bring down your tension.
Some typical examples are:
- taking a nap
- Singing long tones
Focus on the content
This in particular is something that helps me personally. When you know what you are singing about, you can dive into telling a story. This can help you to lose the tension because you have something to deliver. It will help you t lose yourself in the music and you’ll forget the fears.
Learn to keep going
Learning how to keep going with a performance even though someone made a mistake is crucial. No one wants to see a band that just randomly stops in the middle because someone messed it up! Often the audience doesn’t even notice the mistake unless you show it to them. So in case, an error occurs, just don’t let it show! If you have difficulties with that you can practice it in rehearsals. Just play the songs a couple of times and even if there are mistakes, try to solve them while playing and continue.
Practice should be done at home As soon as you stand on stage, be who you are at the moment and embrace all your good and bad sides. Give yourself over to the music and try not to panic when something goes wrong! People came to see you perform, so give everything you have and make music. If you radiate self-acceptance on stage you give the audience tacit permission to do the same. We are all human and no one is perfect, neither you nor the audience! Don’t focus too much on yourself and the performance and whether it is how you had expected it or if you sing in tune…. Make a celebration out of it and celebrate with your audience.
Stage fright is something you don’t need to be afraid of! You just need to learn how you handle your nerves and this can be done through different approaches. I’ve listed the ones that have always helped me, but if these tips don’t help you, there is a world of information on the web, and in yourself!
Singing from the inside out – Ineke van Doorn