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Okay I finally have the opportunity I have been looking for for a while, I'm going to be doing my first big vocal performance at a big gig (big in my bands opinion not in expert opinion) with my band. I have been up to the task in practice but when I think about the live performance I choke up... I was wondering, I am used to being behind the drum kit so I have very little experience of having fans right in my face.

How can I prepare for this experience? I am confident in my vocals, I just don't know how I am going to cope being the centre of attention on stage.

Is there any pre gig "rituals" of a sort that you stalwart singers can advise me on?

Other points I would like covering if possible:

  • How to condition my vocal chords to not be too dry before the gig?

  • I will be playing drums beforehand, how can I ensure I am not too tired to sing?

  • When is it too far when trying to have a stage presence? (bare in mind its a heavy concert)

  • How much should I engage the crowd?

  • Nathan - quick query as there appear to be two good but separate questions here. Are you asking how to practice (ie warm up) or how to get over nervousness? – Doktor Mayhem May 13 '15 at 10:22
  • @DrMayhem well both actually How to practice in a nervous environment (Pre-gig) and how to get over nervousness... – ThunderToes May 13 '15 at 10:38
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    Karaoke helped me get comfortable singing without a guitar to protect me. – Todd Wilcox May 13 '15 at 14:08
  • @ToddWilcox funny you should say that I've been doing karaoke for a while. as crazy as it sounds it actually does help! – ThunderToes May 13 '15 at 14:14
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The answer to most of this is relax, keep your throat muscles loose (yawning actually helps with this). An audience wants you to be good, so they're typically behind you, but if you act nervous, that'll come across in the 'feel' of the gig more than anything.

There's various techniques, keep moving your feet beforehand, to keep blood flowing.

Breathe deep, there's lots of material on this online, but the basic most important thing is to get used to really filling your lungs, which gives you a boost of oxygen and helps keep the nerves away. It's also required to actually sing and produce a reasonable amount of sound. (You do need to project when you sing, the microphone doesn't do it all for you).

Know your material well, make sure you can sing 'in your sleep', without having to refer back to song sheets etc. this takes the pressure off a lot.

Rehearse chatting to an audience, even if it's just a couple of lines that they might respond to. Have a go at "how're y'all doing?", "Are you ready!?!" this kind of statement. or my personal favourite (when having to retune) "I swear it was in tune when I bought it"

How to condition my vocal chords to not be too dry before the gig?

Drink some water, alcohol dries you out, so does coffee. Have some water handy on stage in-case your throat feels dry.

I will be playing drums beforehand, how can I ensure I am not too tired to sing?

I'm not sure I understand this question.

Long term you can work on your physical fitness to improve stamina.

Are you usually out of breath after a couple of songs? If so this may effect your singing, take a break if possible.

When is it too far when trying to have a stage presence? (bare in mind its a heavy concert)

You'll find your feet over time, you need to find out what works for you, but here's some general guidelines.

Match the gig, if there's 4 people sitting at a table, it's not worth trying to play it like you would to a packed festival. If there's a bit of a crush standing at the front, I'd say go for it, you can't be too big if there's a crowd who'll go along with it. Guage the situation you're in.

Don't actually insult your audience, or the promoters, sound tech, bar staff etc. This will not end well.

How much should I engage the crowd?

Play well, talk a little. But most importantly try to enjoy it the way they're enjoying it. You're a part of the same scene they are, after all.

  • As I say, most of this is guidelines, and you will find your own way through it. To be honest, just go for it and have fun. That's the best advice I can give. – AJFaraday May 13 '15 at 12:51

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