Excitement vs. Nerves

Live performance is exciting.  Or terrifying.  Or actually it is both, and how you deal with it depends on your point of view.

When people ask me, as they always do, if I get nervous before I am about to sing, I always tell them the same thing.  The only time I really feel nervous is if I have not done my preparation well.  If I didn’t spend the time that I should have, if I didn’t start learning the music early enough, if I am unsure of the words or notes, then yes, I am worried about what is going to happen when I get on stage.  But if I have done the work, then there is no reason to be nervous.  There is only reason to be excited.

When I am about to go on stage I feel a heightened sense of anticipation.  My stomach gets all wriggly and I run through what I am about to do in my head several times in those last few seconds before I step onto the stage.  I focus on the “tricky” parts that I may have had trouble with initially, or things that had maybe gone poorly in rehearsal.  I feel just slightly light-headed and I have to work hard to stay focused because in just seconds I am going to walk in front of an audience and anything could happen.  The joy of live theater.

The funny thing is, that also describes almost perfectly the way I feel when I am scared to go on stage.  I feel a heightened sense of anticipation.  My stomach gets wriggly.  I run over my stuff in my head in a last desperate attempt to make it stick.  I focus on what I am sure is about to go wrong: the “tricky” bits.  I feel light-headed and struggle to keep my focus because in just seconds, I am about to walk onstage and most probably embarrass myself in front of trillions of people.  The terror of live theater.

So no matter what happens before I go onstage, I am going to feel the same way.  The only difference is how I decide to think about it.  I can either take all of those things and put them in a positive light, or I can put them in a negative light.  Either I feel sick with excitement, or I feel sick with nerves.  I have no way of knowing what is about to happen, and that is either thrilling or horrifying.

I have no idea how to switch between those two states, so if you are reading this in hopes of finding the secret to overcoming stage fright, I apologize.  I don’t have the answer.  You know, I am deathly afraid of needles, and nothing anyone says can calm my irrational fears.  I can’t watch doctor shows on TV, because when I see a needle I get sick to my stomach and run out of the room.  That is completely irrational and is a phobia.  If you have stage-o-phobia, then I don’t know what you can do about that.  But if you just get nervous, I will tell you that the only thing that has ever worked for me is to just be super prepared.  And just know that no matter what, it is going to be excitifying.

Posted in Singing.

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