World Choir Games Flanders 2020

If you don’t feel nervous before a concert or a singing workshop then something’s wrong

  • [A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]


    I never sleep the night before running a singing workshop and I always feel terribly nervous before a concert – whether I’m singing or conducting.

     

    photo by Francesco

     

    But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The day you stop being nervous is the day you should give up. Here’s why.

     

    blast those nerves!

    I did a corporate singing workshop recently very much outside my comfort zone (large group of non-singers, mainly men). I was very, very nervous. Everyone who knew me said “It’ll be fine”. But that didn’t help.

    No matter how prepared I am or how many times I’ve done something I always get nervous.

    The night before a singing workshop I never sleep well (just imagine what an amazing workshop I could deliver on a full night’s sleep!). Even if it’s a theme I’ve done many, many times I don’t sleep. I’m not consciously worrying about anything and I’m always fully prepared, but I don’t sleep.

    Immediately before a concert – whether I’m performing or conducting – I get extremely nervous: butterflies in the tummy, slight shakes, dry mouth, worrying that I’ll forget everything. You know the kind of thing. It doesn’t matter that I’m fully prepared or that I’ve done these songs hundreds of times before, I still get very nervous and I’ve been doing this for years.

    I even get nervous before my weekly choir sessions, especially if it’s a new song or something different in the warm up.

     

    what’s the alternative?

    Imagine if you didn’t get nervous.

    There would be no adrenaline, no ‘edge’, no feeling of excitement, no concern that everything will turn out well.

    You can easily become complacent. You’ve done it hundreds of times before so why worry?

    It’s so easy then to stop being conscientious and professional. It worked last time, why shouldn’t it work this time? Why bother trying to get it right or make it better or pay attention? I can do this in my sleep.

    Feeling nervous shows that you still care.

    It shows that you care about

     

    • getting it right,
    • making things better,
    • being prepared in case anything goes wrong,
    • doing it to the best of your abilities,
    • continuing to learn and grow.

     

    beneath the surface we’re all paddling like mad

    Despite the fact that I feel so nervous I always appear calm and in control to those around me.

    Many of us look calm and confident even though we’re not. My motto is: behave as if you know what you’re doing. It’s worked for me so far!

    Next time you see someone who looks calm and confident remember that most of us are paddling like mad under the surface just to stay afloat. It doesn’t mean that we’re out of our depth, it means that we’re somewhat nervous and the we care deeply about what we’re doing.

     

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

     

    website: chrisrowbury.com
    blog: blog.chrisrowbury.com
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