For Stage Fright"
tips before taking that first step on stage)
made the Beatles vomit before their stadium shows. It kept Barbara
Streisand from performing for over a decade. I watched it make
Steven Tyler pace nervously in his dressing room before a show
at the Boston Garden.
butterflies to panic attacks, stage fright is nothing more than
a fear of the unknown. How will the audience react? Will I forget
the lyrics or sing out of tune? Will my voice hold out? Since
none of these questions can be answered before hand, anxiety
can help. If you are well rehearsed and in good physical condition,
any reasonable person would expect to perform well. But stage
fright is not a rational fear, and performers are not reasonable
people. It doesnít matter if itís all in the mind; dwelling
on worst-case scenarios puts a real clamp on the voice. Trying
to talk yourself out of these mental tail-spins only makes things
worse. Whatís important to remember is that anxiety means you
care. Apprehension is good, positive, energy which heightens
reflexes and expands our abilities. Your job before a gig is
not to deny fear, but to manage its symptoms.
a fight or flight response, making the body rigid, shutting
down digestion and increasing the heart rate. This creates a
lousy environment for singing. At the first sign of nerves get
your body moving. Swing your arms and legs like a wide-sweeping
pendulum. Slow, steady, controlled movements are calming. For
most of us, loading the equipment before the gig can serve as
a good physical distraction, so focus on lifting properly --
dry-mouth robs the vocal folds of vital lubrication, no matter
how well you hydrate. When the digestive system shuts down,
the saliva ducts close; the water you drink never reaches its
target. Placing almost anything in your mouth should stimulate
the saliva glands to reopen, but watch for counter-productive
side effects. Forcing a meal on a nervous stomach causes cramps,
gas and excessive mucus. Chewing gum can make it difficult to
release your jaw later when singing. Sugar-free lozenges are
okay, but I find it easier just to suck on my finger. The salt
gets my mouth watering without coating the throat.
heart-rate shallows breathing. To reduce your pulse, inhale
on a slow ten count, hold your breath for ten, then release
for another ten counts. Incorporate your voice by singing long,
low volume, single notes. The longer you sustain, the better
the next breath will be. Repeat this until the voice stops shaking.
Donít rush the process by adding force. When single notes become
steady, vocalize on scales or light phrases from songs, slowly
challenging range and volume.
If you freak-out
on stage, take command of your thoughts immediately. Barrage
the irrational feelings with bits of reality. Recite your name
and birthday to yourself. What is the date? This may seem ridiculous,
but Iíve coached many people through panic attacks who could
not recall how old they were for a minute or two. Most of all,
remember that an audience is human. People will pull for you
if you let them know how you feel. Missed lyrics and bad pitches
are instantly forgiven if your heart is in the right place.
Would you think any less of a performer who looked nervous?
Of course not. So, give your audience the same credit and open
up. Donít let fear keep you off the stage.
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002.Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark