Posted by: Dramamezzo | May 8, 2010

Preparing For Auditions

Besides the obvious practicing and performing I try to do on a regular basis to be “ready” to sing whenever necessary, I have a little ritual I do to prepare myself for auditions.  I give my previous teacher Donna Roll, the credit for this highly effective ritual.  I also have to give a shot out to Michael Jordan because he let me know that a lot of people who put it on the line to “perform on command” do this.

For some reason I deal with emotions better for performance.  It is almost as if my gut says “suck it up, and keep it movin’.”  For auditions my gut has nothing to say.  Just a continual flipping motion that makes it hard to take a deep breath.

First things first, I welcome that flip-flop feeling.  I get as comfortable as earthly possible with it and imagine it 5x worse which should bring me to what it will feel like when I hit the audition room/stage.  I close my eyes and envision what the environment will be like, the scarier the better.  Then I practice.  In my head, with my eyes closed, often laying down.  I practice breathing deeply.  I practice walking to/on the stage.  I practice announcing my name and first piece.  I practice each and every song on my audition list.  Every word, every dynamic, every inflection, every emotion, again and again until I have a “perfect” run.  The great thing is if you don’t know what to do next you can pause.  If you mess up you can “do over”.  If you want to make it more emotional more connected to the audience you have plenty of time to do it.  I do this all in my head, without physically singing a note.   I get much calmer after I do this a few times.  I feel much more confident.  After all I’ve done it 3 times “perfectly”  I should be able to do it 1 time pretty darn well.  Right?

I do this for performances too.  I’ve gotten so good at simulating the emotions of nervousness that I get them just from writing this post!  When I thought about doing this post I got nervous! Really.  SO nervous that I avoided writing it for about 3 days.  When I started typing I was even more nervous.  Yet, after listing the steps I calmed down.  Way down.  I’m sure there are scientific and practical reasons why this works so well.  I’m sure that I heard some of them on that Michael Jordan video.  The more vivid the exercise, the better my performance.  The more I perfect the process, the better I get at being in the moment when I’m performing.

My husband, a very harsh critic, has been impressed by the last few performances of mine that he’s seen.  “It was really good,  no really, your much better.  You don’t usually perform very well when I’m in the audience.”  Really?  Thanks hubby, for the vote of confidence and all.  Actually, he was the one who coached me on using the nerves as a power source for performance.  I used to try to squash them into non-existence.  Now I take ’em and throw them back out.  The more nervous I get, the more I throw.  I’ve noticed that the better I get at releasing the nerves as emotion the more the audience connects to the performance.  This singing stuff is weird, weird, weird.

Let me know if you try this at home.  Tell me if it worked for you.  It’s really hard to translate singing and emotions to words, so if you need me to explain what I mean by anything just ask.

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