It’s time to stop questioning every part of your performance and tap into a better emotional state –says celebrity vocal coach Ron Browning.
The crumbling performance is a scenario that all singers dread, as it is a thief of inspiration and throws confidence and self-esteem into a state of flux.
Here are a few tips that I have shared with singers who want to know how to get a tougher control on their emotional state when it comes to performances, auditions, recording, and competitions.
I do not guarantee that attention to these points will up your performance level any, but I have not seen failure so far from any singer who has mastered these.
- Know Your Songs Well
I have found that performers feel better and do their best when they have done an in-depth study of their songs. The study should go beyond mere memorization of the words and melody. Find the string of dramatic events and examine how they build. Study the intervals in the melody and notice how they follow the dramatic action. This will allow you to phrase better, but more importantly, it makes you feel as if you are contributing something of value because your heart is in it. It is the first step in feeling true confidence because you are really present.
- Get Plenty of Rest, Eat Well, and Do a Daily Vocal Workout
This is a no-brainer! The voice is a living instrument that must endure the stresses of the working day. It needs good rest and it needs to be fed well in order for the voice to work efficiently. It also needs to be well hydrated. Singers also need a good vocal workout program that they do every day, prescribed by a voice coach and/or teacher for your voice type and your level of ability. When the singer falls short of taking full responsibility for these, performances start to decline.
- Think Positively
Affirmations can be extremely helpful for some performers in focusing energy in the right direction. Affirmations like, “I surrender myself every moment to be the best that I can be with my music.” If you say it enough, you start believing it and eventually you’ll start doing it. Write it on Post-it notes and place them everywhere. Always try to see the glass as half full. Never half empty! Remain hopeful! Avoid being self-critical, especially when you are in artist mode. There is no time for “the critic” when it’s time for you to be creative! Also, visualizations can be a powerful tool for the performer. Spend time everyday imaging what you want. See it! Believe it! Have it!
- Stay Calm, Cool & Relaxed
Besides sleeping and eating well, the body needs exercise. This is true for everyone, but it is crucial for performers. The body is your instrument from head to toe. The entire body needs to feel a sense of ease in order for you to be able to fully surrender it to singing, dancing, acting, and speaking. The body should be relaxed, yet energized and ready for action. If you have physical tension, you will doubt your ability to do well from the very start of your performance. Do not go through your entire show wishing you had scheduled a deep tissue massage the day before, or that you had taken that walk in the park to chill. Do what you must to take care of body tension.
- Control Your Behavior
Before a performance you will want to see to it that nothing happens to throw you an emotional curve ball. Monitor your phone calls and text messages, responding only to those that are necessary. It is best to watch how you react to situations so that you are not moved to anger or other negative emotions. Pressing issues must be put on the side and not thought about until your performance is over. Avoid getting in tiffs with tough personalities on your production team or the venue staff. Stay detached from any potential drama. Nothing will throw you off any quicker than a little drama right before your opening number.
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Betty Groovelle - 2013 Spain
You definitely have a lovely lyrical voice for jazz! Sometimes you sound a bit like Julie London. I would love to hear you do this tune by memory and standing up. It is difficult to perform with the lyric in front of you, and especially on a difficult song such as this. But from what I can tell, I’d work on the rhythms and phrasing more, until they spark. Allow the words to be more percussive instead of so melodic–by keeping all the words down in front of the teeth and lips. If a consonant can make noise, then let it, play it, like castanets or finger cymbals. Don’t be afraid to stress a special word here and there. That will keep the listener pulled into the story. Get into the juicy details! But the main thing is—let those words dance in a Latin-kind-of-way. Take advantage of all the fun syncopation. You might consider practicing at a much slower tempo so you can work out the rhythms with the guitar so you are better in sync. And have fun! Let us feel your joy when you sing, paper or no paper.
Ron Browning is internationally known as the “Voice Coach to the Stars.” His clients include all levels of singers from beginners to Grammy-winning celebrities in all genres of music. Ron works with the major record labels producing vocals and preparing artists for radio, concert tours, and special television appearances. He is a voting member of the Grammy Foundation and the CMA Awards. Ron has been seen and heard on Entertainment Tonight, The Voice, Oprah Network, and BBC’s Simply Classics, to name a few. He is a successful songwriter, jazz pianist, painter, and is currently writing a series of voice and performance manuals, which will include interviews with many of his students and celebrated clientele. His solo jazz piano CD, In a Sentimental Mood, is available on iTunes and CD Baby.