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Singing: Overcome Performance Anxiety through Preparation

For singers, the biggest key to overcoming alleviating anxiety is preparation. Preparing isn’t the same as overpracticing or aiming for perfection. Overpracticing is practicing so much that you lose sight of the joy of singing and focus only on singing perfectly. Aiming for perfection takes the fun out of singing because everything becomes a contest, if only with yourself.

The following pointers can help get you prepared for performing.

  • Stay positive and motivated as you practice. Figure out a way to motivate yourself. What kind of reward do you need to get yourself to practice regularly? People who don’t like being alone often don’t like to practice. You must recognize that and then be disciplined to do your work. Your positive thinking during your practice sessions carries over into your performance.

  • Set goals for each practice session. The first practice session goal may be to successfully sing through the song without words to find consistent breath flow. The second practice session goal may be to keep that same easy flow of breath as you sing the words. Trying to tackle too many goals at once causes frustration.

  • Practice at the level you intend to perform. You have to practice all the details of your song separately, and then gradually put them all together until you consistently create the sounds that you want to create in your performance.

  • Set a deadline for memorizing the song. Your long-term memory needs to have locked in the melody and words of the song. If you attempt to memorize the song the night before the performance, you may be overwhelmed trying to deal with the excitement of performing and the details of remembering the words at the same time.

    You should have the song memorized at least one week before a performance. You then have seven days to work on the song without looking at the music. If you’re singing a group of songs, you may want to have them memorized earlier so you have time to work with the accompanist and work on your acting objectives as you use your singing technique.

  • Speak quickly through your text to help you remember the words. Forgetting the words of a song that you’ve memorized usually happens because your concentration momentarily slips. For example, you may start thinking about being happy that the high note sounded good and, suddenly, as you’re getting back to business, you have no idea where you are in the song.

    Practicing your concentration and speaking quickly through the text on a regular basis helps you commit the text to your long-term memory, not just your short-term thoughts. After you memorize the text of your song, speak the words aloud quickly without pausing for punctuation.

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