Heather's Happy Voice blog

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Thursday, 3 March 2016

Advice for Scared Singers!

A young woman I teach went off to sing her first professional "session" today. I have no doubt it will be the first of many!

Although she is an accomplished and confident singer,  she was shocked how her nerves played havoc with her body and mind, before she even left the house. 

She called to ask me what to do. I thought I would share my advice...

Firstly - Understand what's going on:

Nerves, adrenaline, butterflies, nausea, shakiness, wobbly knees, shallow breathing, needing a wee.. 

These (charming!) symptoms are all natural responses to fear, excitement or other emotional arousal. 

They are part of the body's primitive "fight, flight or freeze" response to danger, signalled by the amygdala in the brain. 

Oxygen pumps to your muscles, so you're ready to run and react in super-fast time.

Great for saving you from a stampeding woolly mammoth, but singing a jingle for a TV commercial? Not so much.

(Alas, the amygdala doesn't know the difference!)  

Don't Fight It

It may seem counter-intuitive, but just surrender!

Getting nervous about feeling nervous sets up a cycle of anxiety. 

Resistance will just trigger more adrenaline, keeping you in the fear. 

Accept that your body is doing what it thinks is best, and let it go. 

Think thoughts like "...this is natural, it's ok to feel like this. It will pass..."


You need to re-boot your breathing!

Calm down and re-set the oxygen flow back into the lungs.

Try Square Breathing ( 4 equal sides)

Breathe in ..1...2...3...4...
Hold it for ...1...2...3...4...
Breathe out.1...2...3...4...
Hold it for ...1...2...3...4...

it can help to draw a square in the air in front of you with your finger as you practice this

Relax your body

Start by thinking of  pasta! 
Tense  all the muscles in your body up so it feels stiff like uncooked spaghetti.
Hold it a few seconds
Then, imagine a plate of floppy, cooked spaghetti  and let go all the tension
Feel the difference?
You can do this one body part at a time or all at once. It's all good.

Think happy thoughts

Fear may be making your mind race with doubt, but don't believe everything you think! 

Be your own best friend and give yourself some positive encouragement.

Visualise yourself after the event, smiling, relaxing and proud of your achievement.  See these images clearly in your mind and feel those feelings of happiness.

Be Prepared!

Gently warm up your voice. Humming and sirening will get things started, and will help the breathing to settle down.

Make sure you are comfortably dressed. Wear clothes you can breathe and move in and shoes you can stand in.

Make sure you have water to keep you hydrated. Nerves can make the mouth dry, so take regular sips

Go through your music/lyrics and plan your breaths and phrases. This way you will stay in control and keep relaxed!

When you get there

Be happy! Enjoy yourself. 

Have a fantastic session, and call me when you get out!

Heather xxx

PS .... she just called me. She said she felt fine within ten minutes of arriving, the session went brilliantly and they want to hire her again!

©Heather Maîr Thomas 2016