Calming your nerves and relaxing your vocal cords before you head on stage will help you perform better. Dealing with a sense of overwhelming nerves can make you feel shaky and nauseous and can cause a lack of focus and concentration. Nerves are normal and help focus a performance. So the key is to control nerves and to not let them take over when you’re singing.
How to calm your nerves before singing: Relaxation techniques are invaluable to any singer and will make all the difference ahead of a live performance. After all, it’s no fun if you’re a quaking bag of nerves.
Part of the joy of singing is being able to enjoy the experience, even when it brings a challenge. Learn to relax and you won’t find it stressful to perform in front of an audience and then you can really shine.
How to relax vocal cords
Here are some tips for relaxing the vocal cords and preventing damage.
- Breathe from the diaphragm, this will help relax them instantly
- Warm-up, don’t just launch straight into a song
- Practice slow release on the out-breath
- Stay hydrated with warm or lukewarm water
- Visit a steam room or use a steamer
How to not be nervous when singing a solo
Reducing singing nerves and singing anxiety
To a great extent, you can learn to live with the nerves. They need not be as much of a hindrance if they’re under control – and can even enhance your performance. You need to learn to live with the nerves and embrace them as in reality they will never go away completely, instead, you can learn how to calm nerves and how to live with them.
There are lots of ways to relax, which we’ll cover in this article. Find one – or several – that work for you and that you enjoy. If you’re more zen in general, you’ll be happier and more serene, even when things get tricky.
How to sing a solo confidently
On the day, the aim is to try and ease all tension and relax your body. This will ease your mind and steady your voice. Tai Chi or yoga is useful for aiding relaxation. Or you could go for a massage earlier in the day. Aromatherapy (with or without a massage) and essential oils like lavender, frankincense, ylang ylang and jasmine help many people to relax too. These can be carried into the air through an inexpensive diffuser.
Ways to calm nerves
Watch what you eat and drink. Try having a small snack to settle your stomach, but not so you feel full. A banana is a good example of a de-stressing food, as it contains magnesium, a mineral works to can calm nerves and anxiety. Chewing gum can help relieve tension in your jaw, but if you haven’t eaten, don’t chew for too long as it can cause digestion issues.
Avoid caffeine as it can enhance anxiety. Instead, try drinking herbal tea or some lukewarm water. Ice cold or boiling hot water can shock your vocal cords and make them close up. Energy drinks will also cause a huge spike in adrenaline as they’re packed with caffeine. If you’ve been struggling to relax or sleep and are regularly consuming energy drinks, they might be the reason.
How to control nerves when singing
Your mind is very powerful and has a big impact on physical feelings and emotional reactions. Use positive self-talk and mantras before you go on stage. It may seem odd, but by telling yourself over and over that it’s going to be okay, and that nothing bad is going to happen, you will start to believe it. You might not even realise that you’ve been talking negatively to yourself about your performance. If you have, this will make a change not only in your singing but quite possibly in other areas of your life too.
How to get over fear of singing in front of others
Ultimately you have to do it, to get over the fear. There are lots of helpful books you can buy, or borrow from libraries that deal with overcoming all sorts of fears, including this fear of singing in front of others. If you really find it impossible to alleviate the nerves, you could seek out some cognitive behavioural therapy or professional hypnotherapy.
To conquer this fear, in particular, a good way to begin is by performing at small scale gigs. These should be ones that will enable you to build confidence in front of a friendly, receptive audience, who will give you a warm welcome and lots of positive feedback. As you progress you’ll need some tougher criticism to develop, but not until you’ve overcome your fear of singing in front of others.
How to overcome stage fright when singing
Is there a cure for stage fright when singing?
You can certainly work on reducing your stage fright, and while there’s no definite ‘cure’, there are steps you can take to banish it.
Find out how to overcome stage fright specifically, in this article.
How to stop your voice from shaking when singing
The best way to calm nerves is to feel confident in the first place. Having practised and performed so many times it becomes second nature and will reduce the number of things that can go wrong. As always perform to friends, at open mic nights, film yourself, ask for feedback first and analyse.
The key with how to calm nerves is to visualise your performance and go through it step by step. Begin by thinking about heading down from the dressing room and following it through to going on stage and hitting those first notes.
Show up early! This will relieve any nerves about being late or having any last–minute hitches. It’ll also give you a professional and reliable reputation, which is valuable in the industry.
How to sing without tension: How do you relax your vocal cords?
If you feel tense, then your body usually tenses up too. Let’s take a look at physiological techniques you can you use to relax.
Throat exercises for singing
A regular routine of throat exercises for singing will contribute to an ongoing state of vocal relaxation. This can be done with a vocal coach, or you could follow online tutorials to relax that throat.
Epiglottis singing, hyoid bone singing and retraction singing
It helps for singers to have a bit of knowledge about vocal anatomy. If these are terms you haven’t come across yet, let’s take a look at what they mean and how they affect you as a vocalist.
If you hold tension in your tongue, it will push against something called the epiglottis. When the epiglottis is depressed, the result is a muffled sound lacking in power – something that’s often present when a singer is very nervous. And all because the tongue is tense.
Now you know why your voice goes quiet and muffled when you’re beset by nerves.
The hyoid bone
The hyoid bone is also connected to the tongue and is the base which holds it in place. This bone is found in the neck between the jaw and the larynx. It’s unique because it’s the only bone in the body that isn’t attached to another bone, and it plays a part in swallowing.
False vocal cords and retraction singing
Did you know that as well as your true vocal cords, you have false ones too! These are above the usual vocal cords and are sometimes called ventricular or vestibular folds. Retraction singing means open throat singing, although there is a bit more technicality to it. It’s called retraction, as it encourages the singer to retract the false vocal cord and create that open sound.
Relaxing swallowing muscles while singing
So it’s clear that the tongue and throat play a large part in relaxing the voice when singing. Here are some exercise and tips to help relax the swallowing muscles:
- Yawn with your mouth closed.
- Hum an arpeggio or scale with your tongue between your lips.
- Sing ‘ah’, as you look up to the ceiling with an open throat.
- Repeat the ‘ah’ exercise, but bring your head slightly lower by tipping your chin. See if you can maintain that sense of freedom you had when looking up.
Having a good singing technique has countless benefits for your voice, in sound quality, strength, protection and even the notes you can reach. Not only will the tips in this article help you to relax when singing, but they’ll also enable you to sing better and increase your range.
Learning how to calm nerves
So what other practical steps can you take to help calm your nerves?
Call a friend
Who better to assist with how to calm nerves than your friends and family? It can help to talk over your issues and normalise and rationalise them. Laugh often! It helps with learning how to calm nerves in more ways than one. A hearty laugh fires up and cools down the body’s stress response.
In a similar way to exercise, laughter can cause a temporary increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to a state of relaxation and help deal with nerves.
Consider whatever works best for you, so consider watching a comedy film in the morning or hanging around with friends before the show. Put yourself in a place where laughing will relax you and ease the nervousness.
Ahead of a gig in the evening try and get some exercise! Aim for at least half an hour. From a jog or a long walk to a weight lifting session, this will all release tension and get the endorphins going.
Walk away nervous energy
If nervous at the gig, walking around even for just ten minutes can help with how to calm nerves. Studies have shown that walking can help spark nerve sensors in the brain to relax the senses, so taking a walk even an hour before the event can help you feel more at ease.
How to calm nerves before an audition
Auditions can be the most nerve-wracking of all live performances, as you are being judged and there’s a lot at stake.
How do I calm my nerves before a singing audition?
Keep in mind that the people auditioning you want you to do well. The judges are not looking for you to fail, and even though they may be super successful in their field, they’re still human beings. And they probably remember what it’s like to be exactly where you are now. So be reassured and don’t feel scared or intimidated by the panel of judges.
Being in the green room or waiting area beforehand with everyone else can set off your nerves. Have a plan for things you can do to centre and calm yourself in that environment. You could use a mindfulness or meditation app, do some stretching and certainly do some exercises to relax your tongue and throat.
How do I calm my nerves before a music performance?
The same applies here as for an audition, or any kind of singing performance. Find the techniques that work best for you and use them in your dressing room before heading out in front of the crowd.
Here are some more tips for calming your nerves before a singing audition or music performance, from vocal coach Pete Moody.
Tips for how to calm nerves and reduce performance anxiety for singers
Listen to music
Listening to music can also help deal with nerves; classical and jazz music have especially been proven to lower heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels.
Try creating a pre-show ritual. You would be surprised how many singers have one! Whether it’s something as simple as having a game of pool two hours before the show or something more complex like an hour gym session followed by a walk and ending up with watching your favourite TV show if it works for you and puts you at ease, do it!
Singing is a lot of fun and despite the fact that doing it in front of an audience can feel nerve-wracking, the act of singing is actually a great way to relax. It’s a natural feel-good tonic, need not cost a penny and is good for your physical and mental health.
Try meditating. It may sound silly, but it can help put you at ease. Mediation is not for all but for some people it can play a big part with how to calm nerves, although it takes some practice.
Find yourself a quiet spot, preferably away from other people, and sit or lie in a comfortable position and shut your eyes. Think of anything that relaxes you, anything that isn’t your performance.
Close your eyes or focus your gaze on the floor and concentrate on your breathing. Feel the air fill your lungs and inhale and exhale to the count of three.
Whilst in meditation mode, it’s important to let thoughts pass through your mind without judgement. Remember, we are working on how to calm nerves here, so try not to distract yourself with unnecessary thoughts.
- What is the best drink for your singing voice?
Drink lukewarm water to hydrate, never ice-cold water. Herbal teas are also excellent and many have extra benefits for your voice.Avoid all dairy products, caffeine and alcohol as these all clog and dry out the vocal cords.
- How do you not get nervous when singing on stage?
The more you sing on stage, the less likely you will be to suffer from the kind of nerves that affect your performance. Therefore it helps to get as much experience as you can. Arrange plenty of gigs to sing in a variety of venues, in front of a variety of audiences – large and small.
- Why do I get anxiety when I sing?
It’s totally normal to feel anxiety when singing. Even the biggest names in the industry suffer from nerves. Often it’s a fear-related feeling and this response stimulates adrenaline, which causes increased heart rate and blood pressure. But you can learn to keep anxiety under control.
Do you have any tried and tested methods for how to calm nerves and relax when singing? Share your wisdom and experiences in the comments below!