It is truly possible to defeat debilitating fear –says Judy Rodman
Stage fright, performance anxiety, jitters, numbness or nervousness … whatever you call ‘it’… hits everyone who steps on stage at one time or another.
There are levels of this phenomenon, from mild anxiety (butterflies – actually can be a great thing) to incapacitating conditions that cause show cancellations and stop careers in their tracks.
It’s not just newbies who get this.
Veteran performers are sometimes plagued with it.
Though I’m not prone to it, there were three times I experienced stage fright: The first time I sang on the Grand Old Opry, the Tonight Show, and Farm Aid.
But when I played these places again, I didn’t experience nearly as much anxiety.
It is truly possible to defeat this condition if we understand how it hits us. There are levels of stage fright that need medical attention. But most often the key is to …
Conquer Stinking Thinking
I believe the biggest contribution to nervousness in performance is the false beliefs we have assumed such as:
- I better be better than everyone else, or I’m a loser who should never sing (or speak) again.
- My voice has to be PERFECT.
- It’s all about the high notes. It’s all about the long notes. It’s all about the vocal licks.
- It’s all about the strong notes. It’s all about ME!
Whew… these are powerfully negative, voice-freezing thoughts to have. What do any of the above things have to do giving someone a message [communicating]?
Not a thing.
And if you buy into any of the above, you will have stage fright to one degree or other. Why?
A New Kind of Training
The voice runs on instinct. We must train ourselves to instinctively use correct vocal technique, that’s true, but in practical application, we perform instinctively, based on habitual thinking and on actions of the automatic nervous system.
Change your thinking and you can change the automatic nervous system response.
Ask yourself to whom the lyric is speaking. THAT’S who you should be directing your voice to.
What do you want that someone to feel? THAT’S what should dictate the tone of voice and body language you use.
Do this and you can find yourself focused on the voice’s real and only job… that of communicating!
Stage fright can very naturally turn into authentic, heart-moving stage presence.
And your voice will work better technically, too!
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Lani the Procrastinator – “Crude Encore”
The uniqueness of your performance here made me look up tracks on Facebook- great stuff! Your vocal control is a definite asset; your body and facial language and use of hands help you. I’d love to hear your more lead voice volume, especially over the swell of the backing vocals. If anything, you might experiment with more variations in your vocal tone. Experiment with a bit more chest and mask resonance here and there.. then go back to bell-tones to keep the listener surprised. Best wishes on your project launch!
Derick – “Excuse Me Lady”
Derick… awesome to hear traditional blues done by such a young artist! I hear your love for it here. Tweaks: Your tone is more songwriter than performer. It sounds like you’re thinking the conversation instead of actually having it. Try out a less breathy, more ‘talky’ sound. Simply ‘say’ your lyrics on pitch. Use a rasp or scratch here and there. Trace blues legends like Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to practice. When you do cross over into head voice, try pulling up and back, without lifting your chin. Keep those great blues coming!
Judy Rodman is an award-winning vocal coach, session singer, recording artist, songwriter, producer. Creator of “Power, Path and Performance” vocal training, named “Best Vocal Coach” by NashvilleMusicPros.com, she trains singers and speakers nationally and internationally. Judy authored PPP vocal training courses, “Singing In The Studio”, “Vocal Production Workshop”.