In a recent SingingSuccess.tv video clip, vocal coach Leigh Nash talks about the importance of getting rid of tension in order to achieve optimum performance. Leigh provides you with a lot of FREE information from her 20+ years as the lead singer of the Grammy-nominated and platinum selling pop/rock band, Sixpence None the Richer (Kiss me, There She Goes, Don't Dream It's Over). You can watch that clip here: http://www.youtube.com/singingsuccess#p/u/14/-nxesKeNDP0
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a daily practice, a session with your favorite Brett Manning certified associate, a gig at your favorite venue, or a simple warm up to keep the voice supple. If you’re tense, you’ll not be free to reap the full benefits that come with the give and take of however your voice is engaged.
Tension and stress can prevent you from properly performing coordinations that you thought had become second nature. It can threaten levels of endurance. It can render a performance flat, flawed, or failing.
Shake Off Tension
There are a number of relaxation techniques that you can use to help you shake off tension during those times when you’re facing the demands of a day job or night job or both. If you’re not getting enough rest, not hydrating, or not eating properly, you’re setting yourself up for stress, as you push harder to get pumped up to find that extra ounce of energy you lack.
If you’ve been under emotional duress of some kind, tension can become an issue as well. If you’re dealing with a major life-change, that can also raise your stress level. Then, the accompanying worry can make you anxious, depressed, or even a bit jumpy. It can compromise your ability to focus or concentrate because you’re either thinking about what’s bothering you, or you’re getting extra frustrated because no matter how hard you try to loosen up and relax, the tension just won’t go away.
But don’t panic; there are some relaxation techniques you can learn on your own. Most techniques involve refocusing your attention to things that are soothing or calming while increasing awareness of your body. What matters is that you practice relaxation regularly to reap its benefits. You want relaxation to become second nature like the coordinations you achieve through Brett Manning’s teaching.
One technique for relaxation incorporates visual imagery, deep breathing, and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or key phrases that for you always trigger relaxing thoughts and images that you can use to help you reduce muscle tension.
For example, let’s say you find the ocean soothing. So you think of an ocean-front sunrise. Or maybe the fall season is soothing, so you think of autumn leaves swirling on a gentle breeze. You then focus on controlled, relaxed breathing, slowing your heart rate, relaxing your throat, shoulders, as you hold onto the visual image as a point of reference.
The progressive technique takes a stricter physical approach; as you tense up and then relax each muscle group. This heightens your awareness of the difference between tension and relaxation in the muscles. You can start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and work your way up to your neck and head, or you can start with your head and neck and work down to your toes.
You tense your muscles and hold for at least five seconds, and then relax for 30 seconds. You repeat the process as you work your way up or down. Slow, controlled breathing can also be incorporated to enhance relaxation.
With the sensory approach you create mental images that take you to a place of peace. As you create your images, include smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch. For example, if you imagine a relaxing walk through a summer garden or backyard, think about such things as the smell of roses or honeysuckle, the sound of birds singing or a favorite cat purring, feel the warmth of the sun or perhaps even a gentle rain on your skin.
To help facilitate this sensory technique, you might wish to sit in a dimly lit quiet spot, close your eyes, and even stretch out. Once again, let slow, controlled breathing deepen your relaxation experience.
The Practice of Relaxing
Don’t wait until you’re stressed to practice relaxation. Remember that relaxation techniques, just like Brett Manning’s methods, are skills that are perfected through practice. So make it part of your daily workout or practice routine.
You will become more aware of how stress and tension feel for you. Once you know what the stress response feels like, the techniques can be engaged to offset growing tension and stress, and keep it in check.
For many people stress comes from worry over the future or regret over something in the past. Your focus needs to be in the present moment! Whether it’s a warm up, an audition, or a skype session with your favorite Brett Manning vocal coach, remember to stay relaxed and totally available by keeping your focus on that present moment.
Ready – Set – Prioritize
Another source of anxiety and stressful frustration comes from not setting priorities. Make it a habit to set priorities for the next day just before you go to bed. Write down a list of those things you must accomplish or address tomorrow. Then, as you take things on and cross them off, one at a time, you will feel less stressed and even more focused and confident. By not setting priorities and trying to do too many things at one time, nothing is ever fully completed, quality is compromised, focus is skewed, and relaxation becomes impossible.
Your physical surroundings have a subtle but direct influence over your state of mind. Ever notice that in some rooms it’s easier to relax or concentrate? Look at your workspace or practice area. Clear any clutter, because it tends to serve as a reminder of things avoided or dismissed that you need to address.
An organized, tidy space will help you focus and relax. Make your living space and practice area or workspace comfortable, with personal touches that appeal to the senses such as fresh flowers, scented candles, or colorful, textured pieces of art. You’ll feel more relaxed, inspired, and productive.
Give Yourself Time
Set aside a time each day when you will not allow yourself to text, answer emails, or take calls. Use this “free time” for “me time.” Check out of the busy-ness of the day and indulge a change of scenery. Go for a long walk, or visit a museum, or just do something completely off the wall, just to get away from your routine. Let this “me time” serve as an escape to some private place where you refresh, refuel, restore, regenerate – and relax!
You’re Not Alone
Use the forums at SingingSuccess.tv to share relaxation techniques that work best for you. Talk about stressors that seem to be the biggest challenges for you and find out what others are doing to keep stress in check. Sometimes, just by knowing that others face some of the same issues you’re facing, stress can be reduced because you realize you’re not alone, or it’s not as big of a deal as you’ve made it.
Fight Stress – Book A Session
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to book a session with a Brett Manning certified master associate via skype, over the phone, or in the studio. The experience will help you grow your confidence. You’ll also gain some reassurance that you’re performing the exercises and coordinations properly. And you’ll be able to relax as you affirm your dedication to pursuing the full potential of your singing success.