When you’re studying voice, it is important to seek out performance opportunities. This could be singing in a community or school choir, performing at your studio’s annual recital, or auditioning at a professional level. I have so many talented students that get extremely nervous when performing and I want to offer solutions for these singers that will help them to find enjoyment when singing in public, especially when they are soloists.
Preparation is key! My first piece of advice is to make sure that you are completely prepared for the performance. You should have your music memorized (go over those lyrics daily!), be entirely comfortable with the musicality of the piece from notes and rhythms to dynamics and phrasing, and fully understand the lyrics/story so that you can easily incorporate facial expression and vocal inflection. The day of the performance is not the time to be going over those lyrics in your head, scared that you will not remember what comes next. At this point, you should be focusing on storytelling through your song.
Go over those vocal warmups! Every vocalist should spend time warming up their voice whenever they have to sing for a performance or an audition. Some singers need a longer warm-up, while others are able to spend 5 to 10 minutes on vocalises and feel prepared. Use the same warmups that you do in voice lessons. In fact, feel free to record a voice lesson one day so that you have these exercises on your phone or other recording device. Humming, arpeggios, lip trills, and sirens are all helpful in feeling more secure in your voice and thus combatting nervousness. I would also suggest 2 minutes of breathing exercises simply to ground yourself, relax, and get a nice full breath.
Finally, discover the joy of performance and have a little fun! This is so much easier said than done, but singing in public should not be the equivalent of going to the dentist. Students generally choose to take singing lessons and commit to performances because they love to sing (it feels good and it makes them happy even if they’re just singing to the radio). I want my students to be able to share their love of singing with others and the way to do this is to seek out opportunities to perform. The audience is not there to critique your technique or have a watchful eye in case you make a mistake. The audience is there to enjoy the show and applaud wonderful work!