Thursday, March 30, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety: How to Overcome it!            (Part 2 of 5)

The Mental Game.  Add yoga and focus.

You are sure 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 your song 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.  Tune in next week for more ways to conquer that musical performance anxiety.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 1 of 5)
The Foundation

Performance Anxiety:  It is a high emotion this time of year as many of us prepare for performances in schools for musical theater productions and auditions.  Maybe you have never been the lead role before or are nervous about that duet you have.  Maybe you have an audition coming up for a solo in the spring concert or a voice competition.  You or your student is very nervous about the upcoming performance.  Memory lapses are happening, technique is suffering, music and the enjoyment of it stops.  How do you deal with this? How can you control it and turn anxiety into performance excitement?

Try to identify what is the problem. 

What happens to you physically, emotionally, and mentally?  Take the time to recognize when performance anxiety really hits you. What happens to your body? What is your brain saying to you?  Then talk it through with your voice teacher.

PhysicalDo you get butterflies or actually feel like you are going to faint? Take a deep breath and relax. Work backwards a little bit first.  When does it happen? Only at the actual performance or even when you are just thinking about a lesson?  Are you nervous about not knowing all of the notes and words or is it more than that?

Emotionally:  How do you feel emotionally?  Are you scared?  Are you excited with a little anxiety?   Get a feeling on what your emotions really are.

Mentally: Are you psyching yourself out even though you are prepared?  Do you fear what you can do is not good enough? Think about how you can improve your mental state and empower yourself with positive thought.

In preparation, learn the piece thoroughly.  Know the notes, rhythms, words, meaning of the text.  Just learn it without the concept of performing it.  If you get worked up for the first couple of days, walk away and come back.  Identify what frustrated you and get help from your teacher.  The second week if you get worked up, force yourself to ‘get back on the horse’ and keep going.  Your teacher can help you with this.  Have patience with yourself.

Once you know the nuts and bolts of the piece, put yourself into the character of the song.  Paint the picture of the scene you are describing in your head or imagine you are truly telling your love of your commitment.  Connect to the meaning of the piece and put yourself in the scene you create.  Try to forget that anyone else is out there listening.  You are that person. The more you connect with the text, the more your body and your mind may just remember what to do and you create beautiful music.

If it is not working, explore yoga poses and breathing.  Visit a blog on yoga. What are your ideas on performance anxiety and would you like to work on this?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Recitals are on the Horizon: What do you do to prepare and stay healthy?

It is spring and time for preparing for recitals and end of year performances!  What do you do to prepare and to stay healthy?


Make your selections early. 

If you are preparing an entire program, I know that is already done. If you are singing on a studio voice recital program, perhaps not.  Pick those songs NOW!  What music did you enjoy working on the most? Was there a song that you just loved?  One that you really like the message of the text?  Your teacher will have recommendations and put in their two cents, but take some time to think about it as the singer. 

Practice, practice, practice.

Work daily if possible on all of the things your teacher assigns for that (or those pieces).  Breathing, phrasing, re-working vowels, expression, interpretation of the text, dynamics.  Take notes in your lesson so you remember what to fine tune each week.

Memorize ASAP.

Take time to analyze the text and really get to know what the poet is saying.  Write it out like a paragraph and look at it separate from the music.  Look at how the composer set the text to understand what he wants you to do with the text.  This is important with foreign languages and English!  It will help you with the overall delivery of your song and make it easier to memorize it.

Practice memorized.

If you are memorized in your practice, you can start to add even more emotion and play with how you will truly perform your songs.

Perform for others.

Especially if performing creates anxiety for you, perform your memorized music for others in you life with whom you are comfortable (your mom, sister, roommate, best friend).  Get their feedback.  It will help you develop confidence and know how the audience hears and sees your performance. 

Know what you want to do and how you want to do it!!

Stay Healthy!!

I know this is easier said than done, but go the extra mile to do all the things you know you should to stay healthy so you can sing when healthy!

Wash your hands, drink lots of water, get adequate sleep, exercise, take time out for yourself to relieve stress, stay away from others who are sick when at all possible, minimize talking unless necessary.  If you are starting to feel sick, amp up the vitamin c, water, and sleep!

If you are well-prepared, you can battle potential illness better and come out on top if you do end up with a slight illness for a few days because you already know your stuff and can mentally practice.
Keep up the good work and discipline!  Enjoy that performance and happy singing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Resolution:   Remember why singing is good for you! 'Sing and be glad in it!'

Part 8:

Resolution:   Remember why singing is good for you!

There are so many benefits to singing, including sharing your love of music with others. Think about the bonds you have made with other musicians and instructors through music.  It is a form of communication which bonds humanity.  Singing, whether it be in a choir or opera or a solo at a recital, communicates and shares a beautiful thing: a part of the composer and lyricists intent and a part of your soul.  Share your love with others in any way you can.  Keep singing and doing what you can to make an even more beautiful noise.  Remember how it feels and that you always have your instrument with you.  Sing and be happy!

Contact Susan Anders Brizick for more information about singing lessons and reaching your singing goals!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Resolution:  Warm Up Singing Voice Before Rehearsals and Stay Motivated.

Part 7:

Resolution:  Warm Up Before Rehearsals and stay motivated.

Why is this important, you might ask?  Warming up is so essential to the health of your singing voice.  Everyone’s voice is different and needs different levels and amounts of warming up to perform well.  Think about athletes a minute.  Do all of them have the same routine of warming up before they go and play a game or a match?  No, they all may have similarities, but do different individual things to get themselves ready to go.  For example, one singer may only need 10 minutes to warm up and be ready to sing a full 2 hour rehearsal.  Another may need 15-20 minutes and start with a few yoga poses prior to that to make sure her body is in good alignment and her nerves are in check.  You never know how much time a director or teacher will give to warm ups or not.  If you know your voice is ready to go, you are in safe and productive territory.  Take the time to figure out what works best for you for warm up exercises both vocally and physically.  What did you do vocally in some of your best lessons or before a rehearsal?  What warm-ups do you like? What yoga postures help you get centered and focused?  You will feel good about what singing you are about to share.  Arm yourself with taking care of the muscles of your instrument to be the best singer you can be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Resolution: Sleep More: Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. How does it impact singing?

Part 6

Resolution: Sleep More: Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night.

Haha! many of you say.  It is so important to make time for sleep.  It is when your body rejuvenates.  It is when you solidify that memory of the lyrics you worked on or breaths that you mastered in your lesson.  It helps you remember the good endorphins released from singing and exercising.  Try to add more sleep to your schedule.  How do you find that extra time? Go back to resolution one of having more efficient practice time and mapping out your practice.  Map out your studies or your time at work on a project.  Plan it out and resist the urge to spend time on social media aside from your allotted downtime. 

Go to bed a half hour earlier each night for a week until you are getting 8 hours of sleep or close to it.  Trust me, you will feel better, be more focused, and sing better.  I know we can’t always do it, but try to make a habit of going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday and close to 8 hours.  Your body gets used to it because it functions well with it.   If you have an off night or a hectic week, try squeezing in a nap.  Notice how much better your brain and your body function!