In my last article on singing I raised the question of how a person can become less self-conscious, less nervous and more free when performing in front of others.
What every performance coach on the planet will tell you right off the bat is: Know your material.
Rehearse, rehearse, and then rehearse some more so that no matter how nervous you feel come show time, your muscle memory will kick into place. Having the sense that you are in control is vital. (*See article on Samurai Warriors.) If I am rehearsing alone, I often imagine the audience and the space where I’ll be performing. While I’m committing my tunes to muscle memory I look around either my actual room or the imagined one in my head, and ‘practice’ looking into the eyes of people both up close and off in the distance.
When I auditioned for SNL, I had Lorne Michaels’ face on my desktop so I could see him and get used to looking at him so that when the time came, it would feel familiar. And it truly worked. When I saw him behind the producer’s table, I thought…”Oh there’s my friend, Lorne,” and it was the most satisfying and fun audition I had ever given!
Before I appeared at The Kennedy Center (a room that seats over 2000) I researched the room online. I knew that I would not get more than a few minutes of rehearsal time on that awesome, and possibly, intimidating stage before I went on. So I watched videos of other performances and imagined the size of the room, the shape of the stage, how many steps people took to get across it. I had a concept, a felling, in my body and mind before I ever got there. I had never been on a stage that big, but when the time came, it wasn’t daunting. It felt how I imagined it.
Use your imagination.
And use your imagination to tell yourself the kind of performance you are GOING to have. DETERMINE that you are going to be great, or at the least, determine that you are going to have nothing but fun! Set an intention. And then make the DECISION that you aren’t going to care what or how people see you. It’s none of your business. You don’t have control over them! You just have control over the amount of fun you get to put out into the world!
And never lose sight of the fact that everybody watching you WANTS you to do well. The audience is rooting for you! Everyone goes to a show to see ‘something’. . . or to be changed, uplifted, entertained. No one, save a sociopath, is sitting there hoping you are going to suck so they can feel really uncomfortable watching you sweat.
The audience WANTS you to take them out of their lives for five minutes or 60 minutes and show them a good time at best and at least, something different! AND YOU, dear performer. . . have the privilege of being the person who gets to offer that to others. It is an honor when viewed that way. Make your performance about giving instead of receiving and you will have a whole new kind of freedom on stage.
Give from that soft place within your heart, or that fierce place, or that place where your sexual energy mingles with your creative fire. Just know that what you are going to offer is nothing more and nothing less than YOUR take on how YOU experienced or experience a human emotion or scenario. What does it feel like for YOU to fall in love or be jilted or find a dream or lose a dream or be floating on air or waiting for the day to be over? What do you FEEL about those things that you are singing about. How does the music touch you? We, the audience don’t know yet. . .and are waiting excitedly to hear your spin.
Lastly, familiarize yourself with the vast wealth of information out there about how breathing slowly and rhythmically holds the magic key to calming your entire nervous system when you are stressed. It’s NOT about taking deep breaths. ( There is a great video that I’ve spent the past 30 minutes trying to find! Once I do, I’ll post it here.)
Here is one of many articles that explains what to do. http://www.mybasis.com/blog/2013/10/the-science-of-stress-heart-rate-and-breathing/
I hope this helps!