The Empowered Singer: Singing Your Best When It Matters Most


  • Diana Allan University of Texas at San Antonio


Music, and song specifically, can move us like nothing else. The power of song is undeniable. If words alone could express what we wanted and needed to express, we would merely say them. But no, combining the words with music is what enables us to express more accurately what is deep within us, what we desire to share with others—the ineffable nature of being human. If this sounds heavy, it is. Musicians go through a rigorous preparatory and training process to become performers. They learn the skills necessary to sing with ease and expressivity. This process is fraught with ups and downs of a musical sort and much attention is paid to learning and refining technique, diction, style, and performance practice. In contrast, very little attention is paid to dealing with the ups and downs of the mental sort—the psychological aspects of musical performance. In this paper, I will address the psychological aspects that often stand in the way of performers’ abilities to sing their best when it matters most and will discuss effective ways to cope with these aspects. Mental challenges that performers face often fuel performance anxiety and include worrying too much about what others think, experiencing fears that adversely affect performance, doubting themselves and their skills, over-analyzing in an attempt to perform perfectly, and lacking trust in learned skills. Singers can learn to cope effectively with these challenges by cultivating and practicing specific mental skills that will greatly improve their ability to sing as well or better than they practice, increase or reclaim the joy in their performing, and empower them to perform ‘in the moment’ to experience and communicate the expressive elements through song and singing.

Author Biography

Diana Allan, University of Texas at San Antonio

Diana Allan, soprano, has appeared in operatic and concert performances throughout the USA Midwest and Southwest. She has also performed in Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Brazil. Diana has sung such leading operatic roles as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Rosalinda in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Despina in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Leatitia in Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, and has extensive oratorio experience. In addition to her performing, Diana has over 25 years university level teaching experience and currently teaches on the faculty of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research interests include mindfulness, mindful learning, performance anxiety, cognitive strategies for performers and incorporating the teaching of those strategies in applied music instruction. Diana has completed extensive study in counseling, cognitive-behavioral strategies, sport psychology, and is a certified Mental Game Coaching Professional (MGCP). Using her MGCP training, Diana works as Peak Performance Coach with musicians to help them identify and assess their performance strengths and challenges, to formulate customized peak performance plans, and to learn and improve the mental skills that can lead to optimal performing. She also presents to teachers to help them empower performers. Diana is co-author of The Relaxed Musician: Mental Preparation for Confident Performances and author of numerous articles on her website, Peak Performance for Musicians.