Don’t be afraid to let yourself be vulnerable. Face your fear of rejection, falling short, feeling ridiculous, being a failure. Press on through the butterflies, shaking hand, nervous twitches, memory lapses, shifts in pitch and catches in your voice.
In the process your vulnerability will be tempered with toughness. Your fear will yield to confidence. The jitters and stumbles will fall away and only reappear when they can be used to enhance performance.
Many artists are naturally self-conscious. One of your goals is to move from turning inward to being focused outward so that you can connect with your audience.
You know that feeling that any move you make or note you hit might be the wrong one so you choke and can’t move? Well, there is a simple technique that can help thaw the numbness and frostbite of a self-conscious deep freeze. Now I warn you, the technique sounds silly and ridiculous because it’s designed to be that way.
The objective is get you out of yourself and engage the goofy child in you that once found delight in making weird faces, loud noises, babbling, bouncing off the walls, whatever makes you loosen up to the point of being completely free and foolish. It gives you permission to make believe, to be imperfect, to be a total goofball.
For example, some people will skip around belting out an aria entirely off-key. Others may assume a strange accent and speak gibberish. The point is to completely shake off the nerves and any thoughts that rattle them. This is engaged just long enough to get you to the point of being relaxed and having fun.
Face Your Fears
Then it’s important to move on to trying something that you normally shy away from. You might attempt a piece or two that forces you to stretch. You may try to sing a lullaby while loud music or distracting sound effects are blaring. Then you force yourself to be heard while staying focused.
Think of this process of facing fear, trying something new, being silly and becoming vulnerable, as one very intense workout. Or better still, think of it as an increasingly more challenging rehearsal schedule. In fact, many high school and college coaches gear their workouts to be tougher and more intense than anything an athlete will face in competition. The same goes for a performer.
You want to be fully prepared to deliver at the highest level for those you serve – your audience, your band, back up singers, crew, and so on.
Deborah “Zuke” Smith is a vocal coach and music copyist in the New York scene. She encourages her students to face their fears head on.
“Many students are hesitant because when you sing you feel so vulnerable and exposed,” Smith said. “The more you face your enemies, the friendlier they become. To sing is cathartic. If you can laugh and cry, you can sing.”
We’ll hear more from Ms. Smith in an upcoming feature. In the meantime check her out at www.myspace.com/zuketunes.
Meet The Challenge
Let your rehearsals challenge and stretch you. Learn how to handle flubs with grace and humor. Discover saves and backup plans for those times when Murphy’s Law is laid down during a live performance or audition. How you fall can wreck your life or ruin your career, but how you recover can save your life, define your career and inspire others.
Remember that hard knocks often open doors that lead to real opportunity, fresh ideas, and rooms with a breathtaking view. Seek everything with passion, commitment, discipline and an unshakable belief in that unique gift you work so hard to unwrap and open for others.