Singing on stage
When you’re singing on stage, you’re not only combining language and music – you’ve also got to deal with spatial awareness and be aware of the people around you. There’s a lot going on, so watch the conductor if there is one. Enjoy the feeling of being on stage, look around you in rehearsals to get used to the size of the performance space and think how much energy you will need to fill that space. Ensure that the energy of a song is conveyed in your singing and not just in your dancing; thinking that the vigour of your movements will carry a song is a common trap to fall into.
People are sometimes frightened of over-preparing because they think the material will somehow get stale. But that shouldn’t be a worry. Every time you perform, it changes: the atmosphere in the room is different, the people watching you aren’t the same. By preparing as much as possible, you’ll have the ability to deal with anything that happens, you’ll have more confidence and you’ll enjoy it more. Being in a show is an exhilarating experience but it’s also a big responsibility: you want to feel reliable. On the other hand, over-practising, for instance singing the one note you’re worried about 30 times before you go on stage, is to be avoided; you’ll only wear yourself out. Instead, you should just slide through your range once, with that note included, to reassure yourself that you can do it.
To get the right sense of spontaneity to your performance, you have to be thinking of the next line at just the right moment. This thought about the next line is key; it should show you or your character having a new idea and, because of that, it is central to the way you’ll end up delivering the line. To see if you are thinking of the next line soon enough, walk around a room while singing, and change direction every time you have a new thought. If, by the time you’re changing direction, you’re already singing the line that made you change, you’re too late.
When a dancer is about to do a turn on stage, they do something called spotting: they will fix their eye on a spot so that they don’t get giddy. It’s an invisible part of their technique; you wouldn’t notice it from the audience. Similarly, you should identify the precise moments in a performance that you find difficult and focus on working out some specific techniques to overcome them. This will do wonders for your sense of security; you’ll walk out on stage and know you’ll be safe. For example, if you’re in a particularly strenuous scene, such as Kim and Ellen’s confrontation in Miss Saigon with its high-energy singing and belting, is it possible to lean against some part of the set, to help you to be aware of how you are using your back muscles?
Or, if you’re performing a Whitney Houston song and there’s a particular note that’s been worrying you, will holding the preceding vowel or emphasising a certain consonant help you through? You can leave these techniques behind when your confidence has improved and you’ve performed the piece a few times.