Magic Choral Trick #76 Nerves
Stage fright can begin to plague you when you first get booked for the gig. It can start its paralyzing work almost immediately then gradually begin to spread the tightness out, and upwards towards the throat, bronchial tubes and lungs – often creating the worst possible set of symptoms a day or so before you’re booked to sing. Then on the day of the performance you give it everything you possibly can – which at that point is about 62% of what you’re capable of.
Yep – I’ve lived this, as have many other singers I’ve known. But this is the worst case scenario (other than the panic attack mid performance when it feels like every note is being sung with what may actually be your last breath on this Earth – but the actor in you keeps making it look like you’re having the time of your life. Your potentially short life.)
However, with all the years of these experiences I know that it doesn’t have to be this way, and in fact can be much much better. There are a number of things that really do make a difference. When I’ve done most, or all of these things I’ve been able to sing quite well, and even happily.
Daily technique practice – so you’re in good vocal shape
Really knowing the performance material, and it’s been worked into the voice.
Knowing the emotional and dynamic plan of every song to be sung.
Some sort of daily mediation or spiritual practice really helps.
Taking good care of the body – all the usual: Rest, exercise, water, healthy food, and supplements that support the immune system (Vit C, Vit D, Cold FX)
Breath of Fire – every day
Rescue Remedy (A Bach Flower remedy – found in health food stores, and more progressive drugstores. Now comes in really handy, chewy and tasty pastilles)
A dress rehearsal in front of a knowledgeable and critical friend really helps.
There have been times when I’ve sung better than my very best, with absolutely no nerves at all – strangely – when I was in the midst of a truly wicked migraine. (Maybe all the stomach upheaval just frees everything up)
The last insight I’ve had on the nerve problem is that it can diminish greatly if you’re able to define yourself in terms of being something other than ‘singer’. If ‘singer’ is who you think you are, every performance is about how valuable you are as a human being.