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Overcoming nervousness (PART 1)

It’s fifteen minutes before your scheduled time to sing. Your palms become sweaty. Your throat tightens up and gets dry. Your lips flex uncontrollably. Your whole body shakes in a convulsive manner. When you finally stand up to sing, you open your mouth, but no sound comes out!  Then, when you eventually get the sounds out, you forget all your lyrics.

What we just described is a singer overcome by an acute bout of nervousness. All of us have been nervous to some degree, either BEFORE we sing or DURING the performance.

A little nervousness is good

Let us establish early that a little bit of nervousness BEFORE you start singing is always good.  It’s this small amount that signals the body to produce the necessary adrenaline for you to give a perfect performance. Once you sing your first note this initial nervousness will disappear. Be careful of those instances when you are not nervous at all.  This can lead to over-confidence, and possibly a poor performance.

The problem begins when you become so nervous that it affects your performance in a negative manner.

Some causes of nervousness

  1. You don’t know all the words
  2. You don’t know the tune fully
  3. You haven’t spent enough time practising
  4. You haven’t practised with your accompanist/musician long enough
  5. A fear of large audiences
  6. The room may be too cold
  7. The room may be too hot
  8. You are just a naturally shy and nervous person

In PART 2 we’ll look at ways to overcome each of these causes. If you can think of others to be addressed leave a comment below.


About the Author

Barry Williams has been singing for over thirty years. He holds the Grade 8(Merit) in Voice from the Royal Schools of Music, London.  His awards include 3 First Place and 5 Second Place titles in Voice while representing Jamaica in the Kiwanis International Music Festival, Canada.

Together with his wife, Melodie (director of numerous Jamaican choirs) this duo has amassed a mountain of knowledge about developing the human voice into a well-tuned instrument.  If you have further questions visit 

Reader Comments (1)

I can really relate to this!great article. I almost gave up on live performances because of severe cases of "nerves"

October 26 | Registered CommenterAndre Williams

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