with Stage Fright
Smith, Added February
2007. Used by permission.
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Lots of people get stage fright, to one extent or another.
For some people, stage fright provides an edge, a kind of excitement that
stimulates their performance. At a low level, stage fright can be a plus. But
for others, stage fright can get out of control and ruin an otherwise good
performance. Stage fright (sometimes called “performance anxiety”) is often the
result of tension. If you have butterflies in your stomach or tension in your
throat, you need to put it somewhere else.
Pressure points to relieve anxiety
According to the ancient Oriental bodywork technique of
Shiatsu massage therapy, there are certain pressure points on the body that correspond to
relieving anxiety and nervous energy.
You simply press the pressure point and hold it for 10-15
seconds — that is, apply hard pressure to the exact spot. Hold the pressure,
then release it, and go on to the next pressure point. Throughout the
exercises, breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
Try this exercise to help reduce tension. Squeeze your hands
into very tight fists and hold them that way for 10 seconds; then release. Next, tense up your
toes, curl them under and hold for 10 seconds; then release. This helps you transfer your
inner tension to your hands and toes, and you can probably live (and sing) with it
Some of the pressure points for relieving anxiety and
nervous energy are:
1) The center of your
upturned palms (right and left)
2) The center of your
3) The space/cleft of
your upper lip, directly under your nose You don't have to believe in crystals
or spirits or anything special for this ancient technique to work — it’s truly
a physical thing. Try it. If you want further information about practices like
Shiatsu and acupressure, check with licensed massage therapists or certified
instructors listed in your telephone directory or look for books at your local
library. Or, your city might have a branch of the American Oriental Bodywork
Therapy Association...or the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).
More on this “frightening” subject
Sometimes stage fright can cause a shortness of breath
that will make your heart beat faster and your mouth feel dry, which feeds your
anxiety. Try taking a deep breath in
through your nose and exhaling slowly — but completely —through your mouth.
This lets most of the air release from your lungs. Then you can take big, deep
breaths from your diaphragm to help you relax. Only take a few, because too
many can cause faintness or dizziness.
Stage fright might also cause a dry throat. For this, keep
plenty of water (at room temperature) close at hand onstage. Note: It takes
about 15-20 minutes for a sip of water to reach the vocal cords. Don’t wait to
hydrate. Drink water continuously.
As I mentioned earlier, if you have stage fright, DO NOT
eat a lot of food before a gig. You’ll need the extra space above your
diaphragm to breathe deeply and slowly. (Also, food plus anxiety can cause
indigestion or nausea). Eat a snack or
small meal instead.
Stage fright can cause your vocal muscles to tense up. If
this happens, perform the guttural vowel exercise, using the AHHH sound. Keep
your throat open and relaxed. You might also try sticking out your tongue
several times, to loosen the tension in that muscle as well.
Excerpted from So
You Wanna Sing Rock & Roll (www.jansmith.com)
A nationally-recognized singer, songwriter and musician,
Jan Smith is known to today’s charting artists as the vocal coach who helps
keep their pipes in top shape. Smith’s clients include Rob Thomas of matchbox
twenty, Usher, TLC, India.Arie, Ciara, Sevendust, LeToya Luckett, Injected,
Collective Soul, Diana DeGarmo and many others. Smith has consulted on
recordings for Arista, BMG, Atlantic,
Geffen, RCA, Island,
SoSoDef, LaFace, Warner Brothers, EMI, Sony, Motown and Universal, and worked
with such multi-platinum producers as Matt Serletic, Jermaine Dupri and Jam and
Lewis. She is the nation’s premier contemporary vocal coach, having worked with
more than 4,000 students and professional bands over the past 20 years.