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Dealing With Butterflies

April 25, 2008

Performers have all kinds of techniques for dealing with pre-performance nerves. Some do yoga, others meditate, a third group swigs Jack Daniels. Writers have their own issues to deal with like writer's block, but it's only infrequently, generally speaking, that we have to get up and perform in public.

There's quite a lot of performance going on in this writer's life right now between various interviews, presentations and facing the prospect of singing my first solo vocal recital in a couple of weeks time.

A dear friend of mine in New York who's on the voice faculty of the Drama department at Yale had a couple of interesting ideas for dealing with nerves if you have to sing in public. This stuff probably won't come as news to anyone who's a performer, but just might be helpful to those among us who write for a living and suddenly find themselves forced to belt out the "Star Spangled Banner" or "O Mi Bambino Caro" before a live audience.

1. Butterflies are natural. Just let them dance about in your stomach. Concentrate on keeping them there. Try not to let them loose into your upper chest or neck.

2. Focus your attention on the narrative or emotional content of the song you are singing. Focusing intently on the "given circumstances" of what you are singing generally overrides nerves.

Both good pieces of advice. Can't wait to try them out.


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