As a voice teacher, I come into contact with many young and beginning singers throughout the week. Performance can be a scary thing, and sometimes we can forget common sense! So to make it easier I have compiled a list of the top mistakes not to make on the stage.
- Not bringing your music. You think-hey my accompanist will bring a copy and I don’t need mine so it will be fine! Your accompanist may make mistakes and it is your job as a singer to advocate for yourself. How much is that accompanist going to want to work with you again if you save the day by bringing out your own copy?
- Wearing clothes not suited for performance. Clunky shoes that make thunderous noises as you step up onto the stage, the skirt that is way too short for the stage that is above your audience, the shirt that falls forward as you bow. Use common sense and be comfortable, you’re already going to be nervous.
- Not bowing. Big big faux pas. The audience is saying “great job” when they clap and you bowing is a thank you. You wouldn’t just stare at someone when they congratulate you and then walk away would you? The audience claps, and you bow.
- Not indicating to your accompanist to bow. That’s the way you say thank you for all their hard work. They aren’t your music slaves. Give them their due, particularly if you messed up a note or a rhythm and they were able to cover for you.
- Not giving your accompanist plenty of time to practice your music. Don’t send them the sheet music the day before. Give them plenty of time to get the music down. When you’re on stage you’re going to need their help, so help them help you.
- Not having a clear plan for dealing with nerves before a performance. Whether it’s thinking of your “happy place” or taking deep breathes or meditation, you need to have a plan to cope with your nerves so you can sing with proper breathe control and so that you remember your notes, words, rhythms, ect.
- Apologizing for your performance. Ie, saying “I have a cold today, so go easy on me.” or other such like. Likelihood is, the person will not feel sorry for you, but willbe searching for mistakes in your performance, and may even feel deflated when they are expecting to be entertained. The majority of the time, if you don’t mention it, and execute your performance with confidence, no one will be any the wiser. Whether you apologize before or after you sing, you plant the idea in someone’s head that you performance will not be, or was not entertaining and that you are a victim. The audience isn’t interested in feeling sorry for you, they came to be entertained. Next time, if you are feeling tempted to make an excuse or apologize for a performance, remember this: it’s not about you. The audience wants an enjoyable experience, one that they can feel connected to with the music. Focus on this goal instead and you and your audience will be much better off.
- Getting hung up on a missed note or dreading the next measure. Singers (and all musicians) need to focus on what is going on in the present. If you are obsessing about that note you cracked on, your brain isn’t 100 percent where it needs to be for the measure you are currently on. Do yourself a favor: make like Elsa and let it go. Even if you forget the words-make some up! I’m only half joking…the show must go on!