Hi Singers! Just had some interesting last few weeks, and I am excited about sharing them with you, so possibly you can glean inspiration and maybe some help too. First, I had to deal with my voice being so weak and possibly injured for the last three months–what a worry! I’ve been treated for nodes before, and I didn’t think these were what I had, but still I had problems I’ve never had before. Now I also had this little show to do, followed by a big show, and I was singing worse than ever. My middle notes, starting with middle C, were very wobbly and weak, and I couldn’t seem to fix them. I was also in the recording studio recording my voice lesson CD’s in the middle of this, and it was very disheartening. It was impossible to do some things I have always been able to do. I tried my new Vocal Rescue, from SuperiorVocalHealth.com and also the new Voice Saver, from the same company, and they helped me get through the sessions, but some will have to be re-recorded.
Now here I am, a few weeks later, and I have the little show to do. I did my vocal exercises, that I am recording and producing right now, and they did help. I steamed my voice. I did the sinus rinse. All these helped, but it still hurt to talk and my voice sounded weak and strained after singing one song. I did the tiny bees exercise, I did the tuba lips exercise, I did the hummy m’s exercise, I did vocal fry on and on. Not much progress.
The day of the little show, I was very nervous, as I was performing with a pianist I hadn’t worked with for years. I took the Stage Fright tablets, which I had also purchased from Superior Vocal Health, and they did take the edge off my nervousness! Now here is what I want to communicate to you singers: I created a context for the show. I said that it would be a healing, joyous celebration of love! The next hour REALLY was that–my voice was so strong and sounded beautiful, the audience was fantastic, and many came up afterward and said they felt so wonderful and it lifted them up so much. The bonus was that my voice hadn’t felt so good in months! The next day it felt even better! Notice the power of creating a context for your performance!
The next two weeks I was preparing for one of the biggest shows I’ve done in years. My singing partner (who’s an impressionist and started as a student of mine who’d never appeared on stage!) and I had to edit background tracks and create our little 20 minute show for a benefit concert. There would be 1,000 people in the audience, and some were there to see me, as I have not performed outside private venues for years. I really felt the pressure. I was uncomfortably upset every day, and as soon as I woke up. When I rehearsed, I didn’t feel better at first–I felt worse. I was horrified to notice that some of the songs I was singing had never been adequately rehearsed, and I’d been performing them for years. I’d coasted through certain notes and phrases, and never done the homework I should have on them.
Now I tackled them as I should have done before: I wrote out all the words and what emotion I wanted to feel and have the audience feel, I did my emotional connecting exercises before I rehearsed, I practiced supporting through passages that I hadn’t been doing so well. The more I practiced the more horrified I became–how could I just let this be OK before? Clearly I wasn’t holding myself to the same stringent coaching that I give my students. I moved through being upset with myself,(with some help from my cute acting coach, my hubby), and just kept doing the work. My voice was coming together better and better. I worked on every move I would make and really started doing my emotionally connecting exercises.
I noticed that practicing feeling peaceful is a daily habit, too, and can help you access feeling peaceful under stress. The final three days before the concert came, though, and EEEEEKKKKK! I had stomach-clenching panic attacks whenever I did “deep practicing”, where I imagined singing at the event. They made me feel so weak and drained. Finally I noticed the thought behind the panic: you aren’t good enough. I then accessed a time when I felt angry, and really felt it. I used this anger to talk back to the voice that said I wasn’t good enough. I got FIERCE! Oh yes I am good enough!!!I suddenly thought, “This is what it takes, no matter what!” Accessing the anger really cured me–again my voice was much better, as was my support. I was in the moment. I wasn’t regressing to a scared six-year-old state–I was here and I was going to go get ‘em! This really cured the stomach clenching and the panic so I was excited and ready to do the sound check. The theater where I was to sing is jaw-dropping! It seats 1200 and is massive–an art deco landmark that was one of the first to show talking pictures.
I felt happy and powerful singing for the empty theater! Fast forward five hours: my worst nightmare is coming true–the act before us is a solo singer, a gorgeous girl who can sing like a powerhouse! The audience goes nuts for her! How am I going to follow that? I decide I will just be great. I’m standing offstage, getting my energy up, and still accessing times when I was sad, and angry, to open my emotions and put me in my body. I created the context of the show being inspiring, joyous, and fun! It really helped to do the emotional connecting acting exercises, and it helped to remember what my acting coach says,” Your job is to make the audience feel something. It’s not to have them hear your pretty voice.”
This really helped me to share myself with the audience, and many people told me they got chills from my voice (I say it was the emotion!). I enjoyed myself, loved being on that stage, and even corrected a lyric flub in mid song so no one knew it happened! (If I hadn’t been connected emotionally, I could have completely blown it). This is what’s worth all the work, singers—the audience LOVES what you have to offer, and even though you’re nervous, and feel like they may not like you, GO GET ‘EM!