In this two part series, we discuss why you may suffer from performance nerves and some great tips in how to overcome them.
Performance nerves, clamming up, stage fright – whatever you want to call it, is a huge problem for singers that causes a lot of stress and worry in the lead up before and during performances. In this post I want to give you some information on what and why this happens, and some practical tips to get through your nerves for once and for all.
Why can I sing great at home, but clam up when it really matters?
So many of us have had the experience of enjoying singing at home, in the car or shower – going for it, and really enjoying it at that! This is singing at its best, right? But then as soon as you have to sing in front of someone or do a performance, you freeze up, not getting the same sound and freedom that you felt at home.
SO FRUSTRATING. Why does this happen?
Have I practiced enough?
One glaringly obvious explanation is that perhaps you simply haven’t practiced enough. Studies have shown that much of performance anxiety simply comes down to feeling rehearsed enough. I certainly have had my own experience with this. My performance nerves were so severe that I even avoided practice. No wonder I was a blithering wreck during performances!
The underlying reasons
The simple psychological explanation is that you are worried that you are going to be judged. Whereas, alone at home, there is no one there to judge you. If we read even deeper past the judgement, we might arrive at rejection. An underlying fear of rejection.
With a fear of rejection looming in the back of our minds, we feel the need to seek approval from others. We try to impress the person/people we are singing for. Which is, as you can imagine, totally impossible to do in a venue full of varied strangers. (THIS is why I felt like a nutcase when performing!)
You simply will never be able to get everyone to like what you are doing. Music is hugely subjective.
So, ideally we would need to gain awareness and commence healing of this fear of judgement, rejection and the seeking of approval, in order to really move past it and stop the uncomfortable feelings around singing in front of others. Which of course, will take some deeper work than one blog post can provide, but I do want to leave you to ponder this question:
When you sing, WHY are you singing in the first place? Is it to impress the person/audience in front of you?
I would say that ultimately, we sing to express, to emote, to evoke and release feelings. And when swapped to examine from the audience’s perspective, it’s exactly the same. When witnessing a singer’s performance, we aren’t seeking to be impressed. We want to feel something, to be taken on a journey, and to have an experience.
So it can be said then, that from the audience’s perspective, we want you to go ahead and be selfish and indulgent! We want you to get lost in your piece, and to not worry about impressing us, or worrying about how you sound, or worrying about anything for that matter! Or, as I like to say to my students, make an intention to just “F’ it and bring the fun”!
It can be useful to reflect on this and give yourself permission to just, well, get into your performance and enjoy it!
This leads me to the concept of what you can FOCUS on during performances. I’ll cover this in my next post that you can access by clicking the link below: