The big evening has arrived, and you’re in the warm up room before they call you to the stage. Everyone finally has costume and makeup on, and the chorus’ voices are all supple and ready.
So you run straight through the couple of songs you’re about to perform – with all the energy and passion that you’ve rehearsed and rehearsed.
Bitter experience has taught me that this is wrong.
Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people – soloists, quartets, choruses and choirs – bemoaning the fact that they left their best performance in the warm up room. And before I got smart – this used to happen to my women’s chorus at competition after competition.
The energy has been building and building towards this performance – and although we all do our very best as we rehearse to imagine that we’re performing for an audience, some part of our consciousness is very clear that it’s always a dress rehearsal. In rehearsal we have no edge of nerves – no thrill at the enthusiastic greeting from a live audience, and no real sense that it’s now or never.
In the warm up room, the butterflies have already kicked in, the mental focus is intense and the energy that’s been building is just sitting and sitting and sitting there in your gut.
If you run the performance package right then and there you release all that energy – and with it some of the mental focus, some of the passion and a whole lot of the urgency that can lift a performance above what has ever been rehearsed.
At Barbershop competitions there are always two ‘holding’ rooms. One is an actual warm up room, and the other is a quiet room. In the 10 minutes allotted for the first room we start both of the competition songs a couple of times, then run through the between song presentation stuff once or twice. Then it’s off to the quiet room where no one speaks at all – and everyone takes ten minutes to silently visualize the entire performance package of two songs.
When the curtain opens, the chorus is finally allowed to let all that pent up energy bust out – and they’re ready to give the performance of their lives!