Handling Nerves, According to Joyce DiDonato!
In her June 16, 2011 vlog on youtube, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato talks about handling nerves after a fan Madeleine asks her the following question:
One thing I'd like to know is: how do you handle nervousness? Of course one big factor is being well-prepared, but I guess that's self-evident -- it's more like: "am I good enough to do this"...
1) Dictate Your Breath
Good breathing is one of the key elements to successful singing, and regulating your breathing right before going up on stage is important in battling the frantic breathing that distraught nerves often lead to. Joyce DiDonato says that you need a "long inhale, and make sure that the exhale lasts about as long [as the inhale]". The steadier and deeper your breaths are, the better.
Smiling and possibly even laughing are extremely helpful in tricking your brain into believing that everything is A-OKAY. Because you tend to smile and laugh when you're happy, if you do it a few minutes before going up onstage your "body interprets that as 'everything is okay'".
3) Preparation (not always a given)
Although this may seem like a given, it isn't always one and it is "underused by a lot of people". Joyce DiDonato suggests that performers over prepare. Another method of practicing/preparing without actually doing it physically is going through the whole thing in your head. Mentally walking through your entire audition day, as well as the number you are to perform, will be a confidence-boosting reminder that YOU ARE PREPARED INDEED.
4) "It's Not About You"
As the last advice Joyce DiDonato offers in her vlog, she presents it as her "biggest weapon against nerves and a lot of different things". Although singers spend a lot of time preparing and taking care of their own body to give the best performance possible, the performance itself is never about the individual performing but more about the individual (character) singing.
"It's Rosina that is in that situation, not Joyce."
However difficult it may seem to draw that barline (hehe) between yourself and the character or music, performance is about the emotions behind the music, not about the singer.
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