Singing: Identifying Symptoms of Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety happens to all performers—singers, actors, and dancers, to name a few. But what’s the root (and the symptoms) of performance anxiety? Knowing what you’re afraid of is half the battle. After you pinpoint the source of your fear, you can take charge of it.
These are the most common fears that cause anxiety among singers:
Cracking during the performance and not being able to hit the high note
Looking stupid in front of friends
Forgetting the words to the song
Fearing success or failure, rejection, or the unknown
Naming the fear enables you to go after the problem and beat it. Throughout this chapter, you can read about the common concerns and determine what’s scaring you. After you find the source, move forward and find a solution to eliminate the whole problem, not just the symptom.
You may find comforting the knowledge that thousands of other singers face the same icky anxiety you feel right before a performance. The symptoms include butterflies in the stomach, shaky knees, dry mouth (sometimes called cottonmouth), a sudden urge to cry or run away, trembling hands, a racing heart rate, nausea, cold hands but sweaty underarms, and the urge to pee no matter how many times you visit the bathroom. Did you find any of your symptoms on that list? I certainly see mine.
News flash: Adrenaline isn’t the enemy! In all honesty, you want a little adrenaline to boost your performance.
Assuming that you must be calm before a performance sets you up for pangs of anxiety when you don’t turn out to be as cool as a cucumber. Expecting to be nervous and jittery, on the other hand, can enable you to sing through your anxiety. In fact, you can use the fight-or-flight excitement of adrenaline coursing through your body to enhance your performance. In reframing your thoughts about the performance, you change from fight-or-flight adrenaline to a rush of excitement that can help you seize an opportunity.