We asked Singdaptive instructors their advice on performance anxiety before or during a show. Today, we hear from voice teacher and choir director, Mandy Bryant, and leading vocal and performance coach, Simone Niles, on their secrets to dealing with performance anxiety.
Tips from The Team Transcript: Now this is one that I think every musician either struggles with, or has struggled with in the past, myself included. Almost every time I perform I get a little bit of anxiety. So one tip for dealing with this would be: don’t forget to breathe. So often when we have tension and anxiety in our body, we forget to breathe. So just take some time and take some deep breaths.
This goes along with actually developing a pre-show ritual as well. So find things that you know will relax you. So for example, have some peppermint tea beforehand, do a bit of meditation; just be mindful and breath deeply and spend a little bit of time doing that. You could listen to some relaxing music as well.
The other thing that I would say is to actually use that stage fright and anxiety. It can provide is a little bit of extra energy that you might need to make it through your show or song. I always find that anxiety and stage fright are very similar to feeling excited about something. Oftentimes I’ll just take that mindset and switch it a little bit. Like, “No, I’m not feeling anxious. My body is excited. I’m full of energy.” I think just switching that mindset can go a really long way.
Tips from The Team Transcript: I love this question: At what point does anxiety move from being good or positive to bad for a performance? This is a very common question and how I’d like to address it is simply to say that we need a level of performance arousal (which is the adrenaline pumping through our bodies) for us to have an optimum performance.
We know that it can be a healthy approach to performance, but when it gets to the point where your body sensations are no longer in your control – for example your breathing becomes erratic, which is very much going to affect how your tonality is, or you start to tremble or feel very uncomfortable – then it can affect your mindset and your performance. This is when a line is often crossed and we see a shift into extreme sensations . For example, butterflies can turn into trembling; or a little bit of shallow breathing might turn into breathing that is erratic and fast.
So what I always suggest when that happens is to bring it back to where it’s healthy and positive for you. You can do this by slowing down the breathing and controling the pace at which you breathe, but also by having an internal mindset that allows you to know that your nerves are just showing up because they care about how well you perform. You want to do a good job. They want you to do a good job and they are just showing up to give you a little bit of a boost and sometimes they can get a little haywire.
So when that line is crossed, you may get an extreme shift or subtle shift in the sensations in your body, which then can effect how you feel (and how you breathe), which then of course affects how you sing.
The Singdaptive Team feature a collection of contributions of thoughts from Singdaptive founders, instructors and currated vocal experts.
Johnny Bulford & Heidi Raye
Janine Le Clair
Gregory A. Barker