Not conquering but HANDLING Nerves and Body Relaxation

First thing you should know is that nerves are to be expected and it’s not about how to not “get nervous” but more about how to deal with them.  Yes, there are several things you can do to limit how nervous you get, but then it’s your job to deal with it.

-Why do we get nervous?

*Not prepared (50X perfect practice)

*Unsure of who our audience is

*Over-aware of who our audience is

*Selfishness (worried more about how we perform than the audience)

*Not full committed to being there

I attended a workshop for teachers in Nashville in 2008.  Here are some key thoughts I came away with.  First, from a famous opera singer, Sherrill Milnes:

-”You will not be calm while singing.  But nothing is a better fear buster than being well prepared.”

-”Those who can’t sing when nervous should consider changing careers.”

-Inhibition doesn’t work well in the field of performing.

-”You must feel you have earned the right to be there- or act it!”

-”Singers must convince the audience that they know and care about what they sing about.”

-”All singers MUST tell a story, no matter what level of technique they are.  Some students don’t feel worthy vocally to interpret their pieces.”

-What can we DO to work on our nerves?

*Understand and practice correct body alignment

*Practice deep breathing in any day to day stressful situation

*Put ourselves in uncomfortable and “scary” performance opportunities often

*Practice the following relaxation exercises:

1- Get into a relaxed position and close your eyes.  Consciously relax the top of your head and breathe slowly and deeply.  Let any worries or tensions be pulled into the lungs and exhaled.

2- Relax the muscles of your face.  With each breath, relax every part of your face, your lips, nose, cheeks, teeth, chin, ears etc.

3- Relax your neck and spine.  With each breath feel the fear, worry or stress being released out of your body.

4- Continue to breath and release any tension from your limbs, torso, hips, feet and hands.

5- Now that you are relaxed, visualize yourself in your performance. Picture your performance as perfectly beautiful.  Continue to breath in this perfect performance.  Hear your voice doing everything you have practiced and trained it to do.

-Remember that when you perform you will need to energize yourself from this relaxed place, but only so that the breath can start to engage and your senses are alert to the story/character you are becoming.

-Other exercises can be done to relax the tongue and face muscles and to prepare them for singing.

-Be sure to fully warm up your voice and take care as to what triggers your nerves and avoid it.

-Notice your thoughts.  Are you telling yourself positive things or letting your mind swirl with the worries about mistakes you might make or what everyone will think of you.  Clear your mind of these negative thoughts and go back to practicing relaxation.


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