Wondering how to get over stage fright when singing? Or even just feeling comfortable with singing in front of a small group? Check out these helpful tips from North Hollywood, CA teacher Jackie B...
As a lifelong musical theater performer — and owner of a big, brassy voice — I often hear people complain to me that “they wish they had talent” or lament the fact that they are “tone deaf” and therefore unable to enjoy singing. While I can appreciate the fact that people are born with varying degrees of musical ability, I firmly and truly believe that everyone can put together a winning performance and find a way to love singing.
Think about it: how many times have you been bored to tears hearing someone with a beautiful voice give a limp or perhaps overly self-indulgent performance? And how many times have you leapt to your feet over a pitchy-but-rousing karaoke number? The honest truth is that confidence and preparation trump lifeless but talented any day. So the real trick is knowing how to get over stage fright when singing and overcoming your self-consciousness enough to give the performance of a lifetime every time. While they may not substitute for a Juilliard education, here are three key tips to get you out of your shell and onto the stage:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I cannot stress this enough. If you are so focused on Julie’s vibrato or Karen’s comic timing, you are missing out on the important opportunity to find your own value and strengths. I often tell students that pretty blonde girls with killer voices are a dime a dozen. In fact, I think these talented bombshells actually have more competition despite their genetic gifts. Instead, focus on what makes you special. Maybe you aren’t the next Julie Andrews, but would being a Patti LuPone, Elaine Stritch, or Bea Arthur be so bad?
2. Find A Personal Connection
The best antidote to a dull performance is a connection to the material. I once had a student who wanted to sing a classic Disney song for a cabaret performance, but was struggling with nerves. I asked her what the song meant, and she dutifully paraphrased the lyrics. When I asked her instead what the song meant to her and asked her “Why would you sing this to someone? How would these lyrics change someone’s mind about something important?”, tears began to stream down her face as she found an immediate connection to a beloved family member in crisis. When she sang the song again it was personal, confident, and beautiful.
3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Notice I did not use the standard p-word (“Practice”) as it implies a more rote and repetitious exercise. By “prepare,” I mean: focus on delving into the story and the performance. Where are there opportunities for a varied dynamic? Are there places that can offer unexpected comic relief? Of course you should always take the time to memorize the lyrics and work on vocal technique, but a strong performance requires work outside of your class time where you can really let the story sink in. Practice and repetition are also important — once you have the story down, try it out in front of as many people as you can. It is one thing to sing a song confidently in the shower, and another to sing with the same enthusiasm in front of your mom and her reading club, but I urge you to do it. We only have one life, and it is such a shame to waste our passion on an unresponsive showerhead, don’t you think?
If you use these tools in combination with a technique and a coaching-oriented vocal instructor, you are well on your way to giving an honest, unique, and fantastic performance. Now get out there and sing!
Jackie B. teaches singing and acting in North Hollywood, CA. She has worked with singers of all ages and experience levels who want to improve performance, vocal expression, and range. Learn more about Jackie here!
Photo by Boelseye – Lisa Boels