Getting Performance Blues
Do you love to sing?
When I was younger I loved to sing. I dreamt of being a famous singer. I would put on my favourite album and use my hairbrush in front of the mirror. I finally got myself a vocal coach whose facial expression said it all when I started to sing – this person has got to be kidding me. However we persevered and as time went on I gradually improved. I practiced, practiced and practice because I loved singing.
Years later, I’m still singing, but there are times when I get totally fed-up with a piece of music or a particular song. The one everyone associates with you and wants to hear it, but you feel physically sick even at the thought of having to sing that song one more time. This is a momentary blip in my love of singing. Overall, I love the buzz it gives me. As I start my breathing exercises, I start to feel up lifted and relaxed. When I sing my songs to an audience I put my heart and soul into it, while watching the audience sing and dancing along as they enjoy themselves. The buzz I get from that can last for hours. I want to hold that feeling forever.
But what happens when it all goes wrong. What happens if you don’t you love to sing anymore? Is it the physical act of singing you don’t like anymore? Is it your voice? Is it the vocal repertoire that you’ve worked on too long?
If it’s the physical act of singing that you have grown tired of, then you have already decided that you don’t care about being a singer anymore, so you may as well quit now – No use prolonging your agony. This is a very extreme case. Usually the reasons are far simpler in that you no longer enjoy singing the music that you are expected to sing, or you didn’t realise that you had to work as hard to obtain the level of singing you wanted to achieve.
Well here’s some ideas to help you overcome it:
What you are doing is not a test or exam. It is a performance. It is meant to entertain the listeners. The listeners want to hear you perform. Take a deep breath and give them the performance of your life.
Let the performer in you take over. Think of each piece you are singing in terms of entertainment value. Imagine you are singing that song from your heart. Give it the facial expressions, hand movements (difficult if holding a mic). Have fun with it. Use an instrumental break to have fun with your audience – show off and enjoy it. Imagine yourself as an internationally famous popstar and strut your stuff. Play up to your audience – they will love it.
Experiment with new ideas as you sing through pieces. What about speeding it up, slowing it down, different phrasing, emphasizing different words or changing the way the sentence is said. Tape yourself and listen back to it. It may work even better than the old way.
Work more on the harder items of your repertoire as these are the ones that you will worry about the most. That way you’ll be more relaxed when its time to perform them. This may seem like obvious advice, but there is no need to practice the songs you already sing well many times before your performance.
Think about your theme. Be creative. Think about the message you are trying to convey with your selections. If nothing comes to mind, be imaginative. This will get you thinking about new ideas for old pieces.
Start looking at new songs or new styles of music. Find out how you feel when you are singing them. Could you include them in your repertoire? Maybe you just need a change of direction.
Get your friends around to listen to your new ideas, new songs, etc. Listen to what they have to say about it. Do they think it will work for you.
The worst part of the gig
Unless you are extremely successful and can afford your own roadies, the worst part of the gig is after your performance. You are buzzing after your performance; people are coming up to you to talk to you and making a fuss of you. Then BUMP, you come back to reality. It’s late, you are tired and its pouring with rain. You have to take apart your PA and pack it into your car/van, only to unpack it all when you get home (It’s not advisable to leave your gear in the car/van overnight as it may get stolen or damp). Every artist says it’s the worst part of the night.
A fellow artist once said to me after hearing me complaint ‘do you love to sing’ ‘Of course’ I replied.
‘You would do it, even without payment’ he questioned
‘Of course’ I replied again.
‘Then you should consider that you get only get paid for setting up and taking apart your gear, and what you do in between – you do for free’
After a little thought, I realized that he was right. I have never complained about packing away my gear again.