The internet is full of stories of famous actors, singers and personalities who suffer from stage fright. I wanted to know how they deal with those nerves and how they manage to get themselves to give the performances that have made their careers successful.
Stage fright can result in sufferers sweating and trembling and experiencing palpitations, a dry mouth, short, shallow breathing and blurred vision, and in extreme cases vomiting and diarrhoea.
On the eve of our annual choir showcase I’m sure there will be some singers feeling a little anxious; for some it will be the first choir performance they have given. So here are a few tips from experienced performers which I hope will help.
Mark Twain was once struck by stage fright before giving a lecture. His solution was to have lots of enthusiastic close friends in the audience who had been told to laugh at all of his jokes. All those friendly faces and laughter was a great help! At our choir performance the audience is made up only of friends and family so with everyone routing for us and cheering us on we’ve nothing to worry about. Rod Stewart found that once he realised that his audience loved him it was much easier to go out on stage.
The actor Laurence Olivier had an experience of acute stage fright during a performance of Othello. After that he was so afraid to go on stage he had to be physically pushed onto the stage for each scene. Opera singer Renee Fleming also had to be pushed on stage by her vocal coach. Another top tip from Olivier is to never make eye contact with scene partners. Having friends to help encourage you before a performance is always helpful and avoiding eye contact is also sensible. Look to the back of the room or just above your audience’s heads. They’ll never realise you’re not actually looking into their eyes.
The singer Lorde gets very sick before going on stage so she gives herself a pep talk - out loud - before starting. This is a good way to increase her confidence as well as warming up her voice before the performance.
Adele also gets sick and once ran away from a performance out of the fire escape! She uses her sense of humour to get her through performances and keeps reassuring herself that nothing has ever gone disastrously wrong. Remember Local Vocals, nothing has ever gone disastrously wrong - it’ll be fine.
Barbra Streisand is said to have got stage fright after forgetting some lyrics and wouldn’t perform live again for almost thirty years. She now only performs with a teleprompter. Sorry Local Vocals, we don’t have the budget for a teleprompter, but singing in a choir is different to being a soloist. Between all you singers, you will remember the lyrics.
Rhianna is said to drink a shot before performing but I wouldn’t recommend this before a choir performance Local Vocals! Instead, go for a run, do some yoga, meditate. Exercise will make you feel good, relax you and get you in the right frame of mind for a show.
Andrea Bocelli suffers from stage fright but won’t use drugs or medicine to help. Instead he says, “The only way is to go on stage and to hope.”
As long as you are prepared, rested and feeling enthusiastic then you’re ready to put on a good show. Whether you’re a solo act or a choir member, keep these tips in your mind and I hope they help.