Do you find that in the shower or with the hairdryer you’re rocking it like Beyonce, but get up in front of an audience and your knees buckle, your palms sweat and your voice shakes and cracks?
You’ve got stage fright my friend.
Firstly, you’re not alone. There are very few singers who don’t experience performance anxiety when faced with an audience.
Luckily for you, I have some epic tips to get you on the path to rocking that microphone, not just the hairdryer.
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
Your brain creates embedded neural pathways whenever you think and worry about something going wrong. When you practise and think of that difficult note coming up your brain will get more and more scared of it each time, and your body will tense as a result. We want to create NEW, positive neural pathways to stop your brain freaking out about singing to an audience.
The best way I’ve found to do this, which has worked for myself and my clients, is to find your happy place. Take time this week to acknowledge how you feel as you go about your day, and choose something which makes you feel warm and fuzzy and safe. For me, it’s the hot shower I have after a good session at the gym. In that moment, my body relaxes, my head dips back, I close my eyes and exhale. I soak up the moment and it feels good.
What’s your happy place? Is it in the evening, with a blanket and a cup of tea? Is it at lunchtime when you can take a break from work and walk around the office garden? Find your happy place.
The next step is to replace those scary thoughts with the thoughts of your happy place. Using my example, you might start thinking about that big scary note coming up. This is where you capture your thoughts and re train them. Instead of “Oh no, I’m not going to make this note!”, you think “I’m in the shower, the hot water is running down my back. I can feel my muscles relaxing” etc. It’s important to think in the PRESENT tense even though you’re not in that moment. Your subconscious brain doesn’t know the difference between past and present tense – so it will react to the stimulus you’re giving it in that moment. In this case – it’ll help your body sense that warm, relaxed feeling.
This will feel weird the first few times, but once you start using it more often you’ll see how effective this tool is for training your brain to enjoy those performing experiences!
Just like your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between tenses, it also doesn’t know the difference between a mental performance and a real performance. This means that if we imagine our performance going wrong again and again (how many of us do this?! I still do sometimes!), your brain will think you’ve ACTUALLY been in that situation and failed many times. This creates those negative neural pathways we’ve been talking about.
A good way to stop those nerves is to hold a positive mental rehearsal. I’m talking about you literally imagining the whole performance, from start to finish, going as well as you possibly can. Allow yourself to dream about how great it’s going to be, how your voice is going to be at it’s best and the audience are going to love you. The more times you can do this, the better your brain will associate this experience with a positive one, and it’s less likely to freak out on you.
Sounds crazy right? Try it! I speak from experience (and lots of training), this WORKS.
GET TO KNOW YOUR VOICE
Don’t underestimate the importance of this, friends. Getting some good vocal training under your belt will empower you with the knowledge of HOW to use your instrument. Think you just stand up and sing? There’s so much more potential in you!
Once you know how to correctly support your voice there’ll be less surprises on performance day. If you’ve spent the time learning and practising it’s unlikely to crack somewhere unexpected, go flat on that top note or shake furiously at the end of your vibrato. Great vocals are all about support, control and freedom. Sound like an oxymoron? Seriously…start learning about your voice, how it works, how to use it and how to practise and you’ll get a new found layer of confidence more valuable than anything you could retrain your brain to do.