“But I did it so well in practice!”

Good! I’m so glad to hear that your song is going well in practice! But you’re frustrated because you came into the lesson studio and bombed it four measures in. Not to worry: All that means is that you’re ready to practice differently. You’re ready to practice performing. Blogger Graham Fitch has this to say about it:

“[Practicing performance] is the conscious decision to build into our work routine opportunities to practise playing the piece or even the entire programme through in its entirety as though an audience were present.”

His blog is about piano playing, but this concept applies just as well to singing. What’s interesting, he notes, is that when we just practice – working trouble spots and running drills – we forgive ourselves for so many more infractions than we would if we were performing, and we often forget they ever happened. But the real test is how you deal with (or avoid) infractions on stage. So the solution is to practice being in performance.

In your practice space, create yourself an environment as close to performance conditions as possible in which you then sing your piece front to back without stopping for anything. This is especially good if you’re a singer who struggles with getting your very first entrance right (like me). Sense the presence of listeners and visualize everything you would expect in the performance hall (or in the lesson room, if that’s where you get your butterflies for the time being). And let yourself feel all of it. Observe what’s happening in your body as your moment to sing approaches.

And then, in the middle of all that, let the breath drop in and go.

And keep going. Keep riding the wave, no matter what. Then you can repeat the process when you’re in the lesson studio with a lot less trepidation and fear.

Read more cool stuff from Graham Finch here.

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