Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stage Fright Ambush: How To Prevent or Defuse A Sudden Attack Of Nerves

Have you ever had a strange, unexpected attack of stage fright you couldn't understand? There are two prime causes for uncharacteristic stage fright, numbness or nervousness sucker-punching a performer.

1. Unfamiliar Venue
  • When you haven't played a type of venue in a while, you may experience a guarding reflex triggered by your primal fight or flight response. Your inner "horse" (the automatic nervous system that gives your voice cues) isn't use to running this particular field, and will shy until it knows there are no lions, tigers and bears about to jump at it from the sidelines. (Or tomatoes about to be thrown!)
What you can do: Know that there will be a tightening of your body for the first part of the first song you sing. So, make sure your first song will be easy for you to do... not one of your most vocally challenging. Then, start to sing without fear, because you know what is going on and that the "clench" will pass if you don't hold on to it. Just allow your ribcage, throat and auto nervous system to relax... and they will.
  • Note that size does not matter here. If you are used to playing arenas, a small venue like a 100 seat listening room may feel oddly petrifying.
The cure for this ambush: play more of these venues til your 'inner horse' learns to trust them!

2. Inadequate Preparation

During performance, the stage fright beast WILL jump on you to some degree or another if you don't accomplish these two preparation steps for performance:
  • Know your material.
How? Practice, practice, practice. You should know the lyrics so well you could recite them in your sleep. You should be able to know the song so well in your fingers (if you play an instrument) that your fingers are on "automatic".
  • Have vocal cords at peak operation.
There is no substitute for doing the things that put your voice on it's best footing. If your voice is smoothly running, it will smoothly run. If it's rough, it will get rougher because you will try to push it through. So... make sure you are rested, hydrated, peaceful, and exercised... both physically and vocally. WARM UP YOUR VOICE!

Think your little gig is too small to worry about? Think again.

Picture that in the hallway of the venue of your little gig happens to be the boyfriend of a girl who works in the mail room of a significant record label who would be interested in an artist like you. He hears a less-than-stellar performance and casually mentions it to his girlfriend the next day...

The cure for this ambush: Maximize your vocal stamina with Power, Path & Performance lessons and training Cd's .

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  • At November 12, 2009 at 12:54 PM , Blogger Bluesy said...

    I Love reading your blogs, I always learn so much! Even though this question has nothin' to do with this particular blog, I was wondering about your opinion on this.. I've heard that musicians don't eat much before a performance, because it can affect their breathing. But yet I have a friend that always eats before a show and claims it doens't bother him. Is this true?

  • At November 14, 2009 at 2:39 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Dear Bluesy... great question! Great subject...I'll answer (hint... it's "yes" and "no") on an upcoming blogpost.

  • At November 25, 2009 at 3:05 PM , Blogger Bluesy said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At November 25, 2009 at 3:09 PM , Blogger Bluesy said...

    Thank you so much! You answered my question to a "T." have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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