Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adele’s Debut at the Grammy’s – Success and Great Sound 6 weeks after her Vocal Operation. Where does it go from here?

Adele’s debut at the Grammy’s was a success.  She performed beautifully after her vocal surgery (hemorrhaged polyp was removed). 
After following the advice of doctor’s and having the polyp removed, she strictly abided by not speaking for weeks.  Not speaking or singing is very hard to do, but essential to vocal repair for a singer.  She will be carefully followed by her voice teacher to ensure her healthy singing voice.  
What a lesson to learn as a singer:  the singing voice is precious so take good care of it.  Not following the advice of medical professionals can cause more damage.  Adele is fortunate to have paid attention to her body’s signals and gotten treatment right away.  Should Adele continue in this vain, she will probably have a long and successful career.  She is already aware that an intensive touring schedule is not in the cards for her  anytime soon.  The stress and strain of that schedule would be too much on her still recovering voice. 
Everyone’s voice can withstand different levels of singing activity.  To maximize that activity, secure and healthy technique is essential.  So is a healthy lifestyle including adequate sleep, hydration, good diet and moderate exercise. 

Pay attention to your body and what it is saying.  Even when you are down and out with a cold virus, the best thing you can do is to sleep and not speak.  Whispering causes more wear and tear on the vocal folds than speaking alone, so stay quiet and find a notepad or apps on your phone.  Unless there is absolutely no way out of it, if it hurts or feels weird when you sing, DON’T DO IT.   Give it a rest and if it persists, get a professional opinion (voice professional or medical professional).  Better safe than sorry as they say!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal. (Part 5 of 5)

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 5 of 5)

Approach the Hurdle- Perform

Are you still avoiding practicing or not putting yourself in any performance situation? Start small and sing for your teacher without criticism.  Sing for your mom or your dad or daughter.  Sing next for another student in your voice studio.   Sing a in a masterclass for your voice studio.  Take baby steps.  Find someone you trust to help you and walk you through the different ways one can work through performance anxiety and your singing.

A few words from those who have been there and overcome:

 To find my niches, I had to overcome my inner critic. Because of the way I was reared, I had low self-esteem and always thought of myself as not good enough. I was afraid of making mistakes. Slowly I learned that playing without mistakes is not the goal. The goal is to be in joy. As Stephanie Judy said in her book, "Your own music is the child of your heart, and you are entitled to love it, not because it's good, but because it's a part of you."

In conclusion, complete preparation of the repertoire is the first step.  The better a person ‘knows their stuff’, the less nerves will play a role.  The perfectionism of being a musician and the detailed study we endure are what enable us to create beautiful music.  Do not allow it to get inside your head and stop your creative inner being!  Take a moment and think about why you sing.  The music is a part of you.  With the help of your voice teacher, connections to your body and mind (through yoga, meditation, visualization or other means) help you achieve your goals to sing and share the music of your soul.

How have you survived your journey with performance anxiety? Let me know how this was helpful or email me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal. (Part 4 of 5)

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 4 of 5)


Take a moment and think outside the box.  If there are no wrong notes, how can you be nervous about what you are singing?  Improvising a melody or complete song with words is something most of us did when we were kids.  There is no right or wrong, therefore it is freeing for the voice.  The voice feels less stressed and you are free to be more creative.  You can enjoy the process of singing more and turn off the voices of right and wrong inside your head (Ann Baltz). 

How do you get there?  A step towards improvisation is using Attitude or Feeling cards to pick a few feelings you would express in a song.  For example: fear, love, anger.  Sing a song from your repertoire expressing those feelings at certain points in the music.  Note how it changes the character of the piece and what happens inside of you. It is freeing.  You are thinking more about the emotion than your technique. 

Next, improvise songs using non-sense words.  “Turn off the critical voice and just be in the moment”.  E.Denham   

It is a challenge to improvise at first, but give it a try.  There can be no failure and you can become inspired.  Think of it this way- life is an improvisation.  Try to step out of your box and reach new heights as musicians and human beings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome It! Accomplish that Goal (Part 3 of 5) Approach the Physicial Hurdle

Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 3 of 5)

Mind Over Matter Before You Approach the Physicial Hurdle 

Listen to the accompaniment or look at your music and imagine yourself singing it perfectly in your mind and think through the piece. When you practice and rehearse music in your imagination without actually singing, you establish neural pathways (brain functions) required to firmly embed something in your mind. This helps with wear and tear on your vocal folds if you are intense rehearsals. You can choose to do it perfectly in your imagination. It gives you a sense of ease and relaxation.   

Think through it again.  Actually imagine performing your piece.  Use the power of imagination to solve technical, vocal, and artistic problems. The right side of your brain controls the images and the left side of the brain utilizes the instruction. Try to let the images take over. Visualization just like the calm of yoga can take you a lot further. 

Now, actually sing it.  Did it make a difference?  It should.  Why?

It is a scientific fact that your nervous system cannot tell the difference between real and imagined events.  If you feel anxious about a section of your song and you imagine the sound you want to hear while the accompaniment is playing a few times and then sing it, the tension drops and the sound is more free and relaxed.  "A pathway opens to discover talents you already posess." says Matthew Stansfield.

Students of "The Think Method" learn that the ability to grow lies withing themselves and their own imagination if they take the time to use it creatively," states David Aks.  What a wonderful thought that we have the power to control our success if we use our brains and route ourselves in solid, founded technique!  With guidance from a voice teacher, you can overcome these troubles.

This is not a substitute for physical practice because you must build muscles and muscle memory to build solid technique.  If you have solid technique and you still have trouble, try visualization because it is mental.  We may be standing in our own way by thinking too much (especially about our nerves!).

Comments from

How can you "think" your way out of musical performance anxiety?  Take it one step further and Improvise a song!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal. (Part 2 of 5) The Mental Game

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it!  Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 2 of 5)

The Mental Game

Okay, so you are secure that you know this piece backwards and forwards.  You know what it means and are communicating as you sing. 

Are you still constantly hearing the negative voices in your head?  What are they saying?  Are you striving for it to be completely perfect and not allowing yourself to continue even if there is only a minor flaw? 

Although we as musicians strive for perfectionism, there is a point where you need to let yourself just sing and let nature take its course.  Try to shut off the voices in your head:  the recurring negative thoughts that you have in your head as you sing.  You know, all the things that a teacher told you about a specific spot, your brother asking you to stop singing, it’s enough already. 

Try a few yoga poses to calm you brain and body.  Downward Dog and a few Sun Salutations will help you connect to your breath.  Next do a few Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 poses to bring you empowerment and strength.  End with Tree to center you and lengthen the spine.

Sing it again. Verbalize what the voices are saying if you cannot tune them out.   Try a little more yoga and allow yourself the freedom to just sing it!  Tap into the power of your body and mind and enjoy your music.

How did the yoga help you?  Are you more of a thinker and want to use the power of your thoughts to help you overcome musical performance anxiety?  Tune in for the next blog about "The Think Method" by R. Taylor, May 2011  Can imagining yourself singing flawlessly enhance your performance?