Some of my women’s chorus were reminiscing recently about the first time they sang with the chorus in a competition.
Some were unable to actually get any sound out. Some completely blanked out on the first word of the first song. Some had such dry mouths that the inside of their upper lips were sticking to their teeth. Then of course, there’s always the dreaded quivering leg that just won’t quit no matter how you shift your weight.
It’s in times like this that the body seems to come up with all new entertainments that keep our time onstage from becoming dull.
Even when the performance is so well rehearsed that it is stored completely in body memory, a good case of nerves can cause things to get a little wonky.
The only way to rehearse for nerves is to put yourself in a position where you’re nervous.
Before any important solo recital I use to arrange to sing the program for a singer friend or two – so that I’d be just nervous enough to be able to rehearse how to handle the nerves.
We can do the same thing for our chorus members by having small groups – even half the singers, to begin with – come out in front and perform the contest songs for the rest of the group. The performers know that the people for whom they’re singing understand exactly what they should be hearing and seeing – which makes the whole thing quite stressful.
I’ve found that once people have done this a few times, they’re so happy to be singing with the whole chorus again that even being on stage in competition isn’t as nerve wracking.