The Empowered Singer: Singing Your Best When It Matters Most
AbstractMusic, 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.