20 Jan How to Deal with Nerves when Singing?
How to Deal with Nerves
I have been watching the celebrity singing shows on the Television and time and time again
the thing that seems to let down some of even the most hardened professionals is nerves.
I know this from my own experience too. All those times when I would walk up to the
microphone and my voice, which had seemed so full and resonant at home became an
uncontrollable squeak on stage, or how I forgot the all-important bridge in a song, or the time when I nearly knocked my co-star out with the microphone when we were doing some choreography in the middle of a song, and the time when………well I could go on.
All the tips I share with you has been hard one by first-hand experience.
I am a third generation singing and musician, my grandparents on both sides of my family
were singers and musicians and most of the people in my family are singers, dancers actors
and musicians. So, I have learnt lots by watching them and then had all my own training as
First and foremost, the thing that really makes the difference in performance is the
preparation you do. Experts estimate that in performance an artist loses 100% of his skill
due to nerves. How do you deal with that? You go in with 200%.
Classical musicians set such good example of this. The demands of playing a whole concerto note perfect and by
memory cannot be minimised. The discipline involved is huge and such a performance is the
result of years and years of training and practise. You need to get prepared for your
performance well in advance; to really know your material inside out and yet let it still
appear fresh and new.
You need to make sure that you are physically fit and in top condition if you really want to
make the most of the opportunity. Keith Jarrett, one of my favourite jazz musician’s trains
like a boxer before a concert. It is well documented that Frank Sinatra would swim and run
to increase his ability to hold long notes.
I also find that conscious breathing really helps to control the butterflies getting them to fly
in formation rather than all over the place sabotaging what I am trying to do. My model on
Breathing for Singers has lots of good suggestions for exercises to do in this respect.
The next thing I would mention is emotional support. All those fabulous skaters in the
Winter Olympics came off the ice into the arms of a coach or somebody who LOVES THEM.
In the run-up to performance, you need to surround yourself with people who are totally
there for you and able to support you emotionally.
Most successful artists have significant people in their lives managers, husbands, wives, coaches, doctors, lawyers etc, who they
absolutely know they can trust and count on. Friends who are critical or negative must go. There is room later for realistically appraising your performance and again even this is
always done in a non-shaming supportive way.
One of the reasons people get nervous is because they are thinking about themselves. How
they look or sound, will they fail (whatever failure is), what will people think of them? Two
things really help with this.
The first is remembering to have a really great time doing what you are doing and enjoy yourself. And the second thing that has helped me the most, is to remember that when you sing you are GIVING to people. Give them your gift.
When you get up there to sing give it to the universe and the people. All that energy and love…your energy
and love, send it out as far as you can into space. The power of thought is everything.
GIVE IT TO YOURSELF FIRST, THEN THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LISTENING AND FINALLY, GIVE IT TO
LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, THE ALL THAT IS.
Lorrayn De Peyer