By Molly McLinden
For many choral singers, performing can be very intimidating! Although they may have no problem lifting their voices up in song during rehearsals, the thought of spotlights and a live audience terrifies some singers.
Stage fright is extremely common among both solo and ensemble performers. The good news is there are several tried and true tactics that can help alleviate their fears! Here are some tips on how your choir can overcome stage fright so one and all enjoy each performance to the fullest.
This tip is key for both rehearsals AND performance days! Stretching need not be anything fancy at all. It is something so important for the human body to do, yet we don’t do it nearly enough.
Many of your singers are coming to rehearsal or even a performance straight from a very long day at work. Having them do neck and shoulder rolls or full body stretches can help prepare the body for deep breathing and solid singing.
Once the body is more oxygenated, it is more likely to be relaxed! You may want to try some simple Qigong movements. The eight brocades are very easy to learn and don’t require great physical demands. For guidance, you can check out this video of Jessie Tsao.
Ridiculous Vocal Warm Ups
Another good way to get relaxed and ready is to LAUGH together! Step away from the same boring scales and liven things up a bit. A bored chorus is a chorus that definitely won’t give you their all, and a chorus that takes themselves too seriously will likely stay tense and terrified.
Here are a few classic, silly vocal warm ups that choral groups tend to love and request often:
- “I love to sing” – Sing this phrase in ascending arpeggios. The vowel in “love” is a common one in most songs, and this warm up reminds them why they’re there in the first place!
- “Mama made me mash my M&Ms” – This warm up may be more common with the younger choristers, but why should they have all the fun? This phrase can be sung on various patterns. The M consonant is excellent for resonance!
- Tongue twisters – Presenting a fun challenge to your group is another effective way to ease their nerves.
Groups of all kinds can benefit greatly from this one. After a simple meditation, your singers will feel calm yet energized. They will likely be surprised at how much they’re able to give a more focused performance afterward!
For some, even the very word “meditation” is intimidating. People believe meditation is something very involved or something they will “get wrong.” But nothing could be further from the truth.
There isn’t just one correct way to meditate, but try the video above for starters. You can also lead a guided meditation, or perhaps use one of the many podcasts available.
Meditation will work best if you have a lot of room where each singer can find their own “space bubble” to either sit or lie down comfortably. You can choose to have soft music playing in the background, or perhaps you want complete silence.
A “conga line” massage is a big hit for singers of all ages. Have your singers turn and face the back of the singer next to them to knead all the tension away from their shoulders. Then flip and go the other direction. It’s even better to vocalize while you try this out!
Need more ideas? Check out this helpful video that with more tips and tricks for overcoming stage fright such as deep breathing exercises while backstage, and keeping your eyes on your conductor during a performance.
At the end of the day, it’s imperative that you stress this to your singers: stage fright is actually a good problem to have! It shows that the performer truly cares about the performance they’re about to give. The problem is that when there is too much of it, it can truly inhibit someone.
Find the right balance where your singers are excited but READY! Emphasize the fun and simplicity in these exercises and your singers will be in a good place to deliver an excellent choral performance.
Molly McLinden is with TakeLessons Live, a platform for online singing lessons. Molly is a choir, opera, and classical singing teacher. She’s been an instructor since 2002 and enjoys working with students of all ages and backgrounds.