How Singers Can Overcome Performance Anxiety

How Singers Can Overcome Performance Anxiety

Camila Rabin

Guest Post by Camila Rabin

Do you suffer from performance anxiety? I know it can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, especially if you aspire to be a singer, making your living on stage, but you are not alone.

It might help you to know that some of the world's most famous singers suffer from extreme stage fright, including Ozzy Osbourne, Barbara Streisand, Adele, and many others.

Some of them were able to overcome their anxiety and leave it behind, while others suffered from it during their entire careers, but became hugely successful anyway. This is great news for you. You, too, can greatly reduce, and someday perhaps even eliminate, performance anxiety. That said, it will not be easy.

The unfortunate truth is that, for many people, getting up on stage and performing in front of an audience will never be a simple task. But it does get easier. Every time you do it, it will be slightly easier than the previous performance. The first few times will always be the hardest. To help you along the way, use the following tips to help you become more confident in your singing and lower your anxiety levels.

Picture the Audience Cheering

When you first get up in front of the crowd, imagine that they are going wild. Visualize them cheering like crazy for you, regardless of what they are actually doing. Just picturing an enthusiastic audience will make you instantly feel more confident.

I suppose this is a bit like picturing the audience in their underwear, but that age-old advice always seemed a bit strange to me. If I were the only clothed person in a roomful of almost-naked people, I think I would feel more awkward, not less. And having to perform in front of those clothing-deprived people would only make things worse.

Begin by Singing with Others

If you have never performed in front of an audience before, start out by doing so in a group setting. Join a choir, for instance, where the focus is on the whole group and not solely on you. This will allow you to work on your voice and build up your confidence, without the feeling of everyone watching you.

Joining a choir has the added benefit of surrounding you with other performers, most of whom are probably more seasoned than you are. Not only can they help out with advice, but just being around veteran performers and observing them and their habits is an immense help.

Stand up Straight

Good posture makes you look more confident and feel more confident, and the results are instantaneous. Try it now. Stand up straight. Don't you feel more confident already? Good posture will have the same effect when you're on stage.

When you first get up there, take a moment to consciously adopt a good singing posture. Stand up straight with your head level and your shoulders slightly back. Take a few deep breaths (the next point below) and feel your confidence surge. Now start singing and you've just gotten past the largest hurdle.

Focus on Your Breathing

Whenever you feel nervous, focus on your breath and the rising and falling of your belly. This has a calming effect that will eliminate the nervousness and let you focus on your singing. It also helps to do breathing exercises before you get on the stage. Simply take a few deep breaths and let them out slowly.

If nervousness hits again when you first get on stage, take a few deep breaths after adopting your singing posture, as described in the previous point. I know this advice seems far too simple, but it really does work wonders.

Stick to Your Songs

A live performance is not the time to try out a new or a particularly challenging song. Stick to songs you know well and to which you have a connection. When you have a connection to the music, you automatically feel more confident performing it. This not only lowers your anxiety level but also improves your overall performance.

Learn to Sing Properly

If you are just starting out, make sure you learn proper singing technique. Not only will your singing improve, you will also feel more confident in your voice, which in turn will lead you to sound even better.

You can work on the basics on your own, but you would be much better off working with a vocal coach. If you are serious about singing, you will need to hire one eventually anyway, so it just makes sense to get one from the start. Not only will a coach help you progress much faster, they will also ensure you never waste time practicing bad techniques.

Find a Friendly Face

Find someone you know in the audience with whom you get along well. Focusing on that person's face will help you feel more comfortable while on stage. If you don't know anyone, find someone who looks friendly and imagine they are your oldest friend, who is in attendance solely to support you. Even imagined support helps a lot.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As mentioned in the following video by TakeLessons about overcoming stage fright, being prepared is an important part of limiting or eliminating anxiety before a performance, and practice is a key element of preparation.

Anxiety stems from a lack of belief in our abilities. The more you practice something, the more confident you become in your ability. Work on improving your vocal strength as much as possible and eventually, you will become so comfortable singing that nervousness and anxiety will be things of the past.

Sing at a Karaoke bar

Some professional singers might scoff at this, but they shouldn't. Getting on stage at a karaoke bar is a great way to practice getting over performance anxiety. You will likely be the best singer there and the audience will already be enthusiastic. Sing songs you know well and feel completely comfortable performing and a great reception is all but ensured.

You want to become a singer; don’t let anxiety keep you from following your dream. Many famous musicians have felt the same nervousness you feel and many others have had it much worse. They became successful despite their stage fright and so can you! These 9 techniques will build your confidence and reduce your anxiety. Eventually, singing in front of an audience will feel like any other job. Just better!

Camila Rabin is a former public school music teacher who now teaches private students. She started the site to help people who are learning how to sing or play an instrument.

Disclaimer: Please note that the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Tunedly.