Singing: Overcome Performance Anxiety by Managing Your Thoughts

It's showtime, and the prospect of singing during your performance is making you anxious. That stress brings negative thoughts into your head: Will I forget the words? Will my voice crack? All that anxiety can ruin your concentration and make you forget the words.

Sometimes you can use negative practice to find the extremes of your symptoms. Try making the symptoms worse the next time you practice — for instance, visualize or imagine a critical audience. You may experience some symptoms of anxiety.

Notice what those symptoms are and how you feel about the audience. As you feel that sense of dread, sing through your music. Visualize yourself being able to complete your task, regardless of how grumpy your imaginary audience looks.

Making a list of the negative thoughts that frequently pop into your mind is a way to manage your thoughts. Facing those thoughts helps you recognize that they aren’t helpful and can prompt a switch to positive thoughts instead.

Making a list of affirmations to counter your negative thoughts also can help you retrain your mind to focus on the positive. Affirmations include saying things such as, “My singing is improving each day” and “I'm confident that my breath control gets better with each practice session.”

You can create a performance cue that summarizes your goal and helps you focus on the positive. For example, your performance cue can be “Release and breathe” (release tension when you open the muscles in the body to inhale) or “Drop and open” (release all the way down into your feet as you inhale and open the back space for the next phrase).

Keep the cue positive — something to do instead of what not to do. Instead of saying “Don’t mess up,” you can use “Stay focused” as a positive cue that helps you remember to stay in the moment.

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