Unless you are a practicing musician, performer or public speaker, performing is probably not something that you do often. It can be nerve racking, but here are some tips and strategies to help you feel as prepared as possible before tackling the stage.
LEARNING YOUR LYRICS OFF BY HEART
The first step as a singer is to learn your lyrics off by heart. Practice with the track, preferably without the singer or by even accompanying yourself. Go over breathing, timing, any tricky spots that might usually trip you up. You will know when you’ve got the lyrics down, if you’re really worried about this, write them out in a notebook. If you can write them out, you know them. Tell yourself you know your lyrics as well, this will positively reinforce your mental attitude. Remember, the trick is conquering mental fears and controlling our body under performance anxiety.
Other good tricks for learning lyrics off by heart is sticking them on the fridge or around places that you’ll see often. Try choreographing movements to certain lyrics, which can also help to remember them in a chronological order. Whatever works for you, whether it be listening to the track, writing them out or something else, do that.
TELL YOURSELF YOU ARE READY
Feeling ready is one of the biggest parts of performing. Our brain sums up our fail rate but if you are prepared and you tell yourself that you are ready and that you can’t fail, it will help you mentally to have a stronger performance. Our mind is one of our greatest assets in becoming a good performer, most of the time we are our harshest critic, so having positive thoughts help us to achieve a positive performance outcome. Even if you make mistakes, reframe your thoughts so you can strive on. Look for things you’ve done well, not the mistakes. Mistakes are necessary to improve, think of them as a positive part of learning.
SUSS OUT YOUR PERFORMANCE SPACE
If the situation allows it, go to the venue or area you are performing at, even if you may not be able to access the stage. See what you’re working with. This really helps to calm nerves, because you can visualise yourself standing in that space. It helps prepare you mentally for what to expect. Watch other people performing in that space prior to your performance, take notes on their tricks of what they do that you can incorporate into your performance. However if you can not access the space, find photos of the stage or other bands, artists or performers playing on the stage, look for tech speculations of the stage size. If you know anyone who has performed in the space before, ask them for some tips or about what the venue or stage space may look like and what to expect which will help you to visualise it.
REHEARSE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR
Your body is your instrument! Practice a few strong poses while you play your song or setlist in front of a mirror. This will help you feel and look comfortable on stage. Obviously you don’t want to stand totally still in a song, it can look awkward! You want to connect with what you’re singing whether it be by moving your hands, swaying gently, or holding simple poses. Depending on what genre of music you are singing, you’re movements or gestures will reflect this. For example if you’re singing rock, you will usually be conveying more energy, whereas if you’re singing an acoustic ballad style of song, this will be more still and composed, with soulful gestures.
Fashion, fashion fashion! Yes, it’s very important as to what you wear on a stage, whatever you wear will reflect on who you are as a performer. Even if you decide to just wear your favourite jeans or Metallica t-shirt, those choices say something to who you are as a performer. Make sure your outfit is comfortable for whatever you are doing on stage, particularly if you are planning on moving around. Make sure you can walk in the shoes or at least practice moving if you are wearing crazy high stilettos. You usually want to dress in the style of your music, or sometimes you’ll want to coordinate with your bandmates or other performers.
Keep your hairstyle in mind, too. Long hair can get in the way when it comes to singing and can hide a performers face, which can make it hard to connect with audiences and uncomfortable onstage. Make sure whatever you wear, is something that you feel confident in. It will make a huge difference to the outcome of your performance and help you to feel your best on stage.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, be healthy, look after your body and your mind. Limit putting to much pressure on yourself even if you are making mistakes in practice, or the performance (this can sometimes just be nerves, doesn’t mean you don’t know your songs or that you’re not ready). Again, mistakes are all part of learning how to be a good performer and to improve on our skills. Always Remember: your goal is just to have fun on stage, that will help take the heat off. As for looking after your body, make sure you have some water if you’re playing a long set. Make sure you’ve eaten a sufficient meal as well, this will help you to think clearly on stage and also keep your vocal cords healthy. Ensure that you aren’t drinking too much coffee or energy drinks as this is just going to get the adrenaline pumping around your body even more, particularly if you’re already nervous. So give yourself a good shot on stage and just look after your body’s wellbeing – it will be conducive to feeling mentally and physically ready to perform on stage.