Performance anxiety, also known as stage fright, is common among singers, and for some, it can prevent them from performing. If you have performance anxiety, working on relaxing the body, changing negative thought patterns, and reframing the anxiety is a good place to start.
The first step is awareness - become aware of tension in your body when you're going to perform or just thinking about performing. Sing and imagine you are in front of 500 people. See them. Feel the heat of the lights. Really visualize the details of the scene. Now notice where you are tightening up.
Once you know how your body is responding and where you hold your stress reactions, use visualization again. In a quiet place, take a few deep breaths and imagine you are singing in front of those 500 people while focusing on relaxing the part of your body that tightens up. See yourself relaxed and singing the song just like you want to. Again imagine the scene - immerse yourself and really notice details. Visualization is a proven technique among athletes, so even though it may seem hokey to you, give it a shot for a week to see how it works. You might be surprised!
One of the biggest causes of performance anxiety is what you think. "I'm not as good as so-and-so singer." "People aren't going to like my voice." "What if I forget the words or when to come in?" Any of that sound familiar?
Another question: Does anything good come from you thinking that way? No! The first step in changing these self-sabotaging thoughts is noticing them. Most people aren't aware of the often critical monologue going on in their heads so when you feel your body reacting, pay attention to what you are thinking at that time. Write them down and then write down facts that challenge those thoughts. Consult your singing coach or trusted friend to help you come up with facts that challenge your negative thought patterns.
For example, "People aren't going to like my voice." How do you know? Think about all of the ways your voice has improved. And so what if there are a few haters - not everyone is going to like your singing - that's a fact of life and that is OK. These are examples of some ways you can challenge negative thoughts. It is important to write the negative thoughts down as well as the challenges to them. That helps you remember.
Finally, try reframing the anxiety. Is it stage fright or could your reaction be EXCITEMENT to perform? Say to yourself (and work on believing it), "I'm really excited to perform! This is what I've worked so hard for. It will be fun!" You'll have to repeat this over and over, but you can change how you think about the body reactions you are having before performing.
Here is a video on the topic:
Battling performance anxiety is a process, so be patient. And the goal isn't to get rid of all of the anxiety. Some of that energy can be used to motivate you to do your best and to keep practicing! Try these and other strategies to get your anxiety working for you instead of against you.
In our singing lessons, our vocal coach works with singers to help them gain confidence as performers. Our students come from all over New York's Capital District including Latham, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Clifton Park, Cohoes, Watervliet, Niskayuna, and surrounding communities. We help adults and kids sing better in a supportive and fun yet rigorous environment. Contact us today for a free voice consultation!