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Preparing to perform for the first time (and how to enjoy the experience)



Before the gig

#1 Prepare thyself. Preparation is key to cultivating confidence. By now, you and your choir mates have just about finalised the vocal preparation, practiced the performance, and memorised the directions. The next part is to organise for the actual day, so you can start the morning feeling optimistic and as relaxed as possible.

Before Saturday:

  • Try on your outfit completely and sing (and move around!). This will help you feel comfortable and familiar on the day once you get into gear. It will also let you know if your shoes are a no-go. (You want to be comfortable when singing and walking up/down stage!).

  • Iron/lay out your clothes ready to wear.

  • Have a back-up plan for transport, outfits, babysitters, etc.

  • If a part of the performance is worrying you, step through it, rather than trying to think it through.

  • If you have questions, don't leave them to the last minute - ask Emily/Dee/Theo or your choir mates in the FB group.



#2 You know what you know. As you approach the event, lots of information might be racing through your head! Reach out if you're unsure of something, but don't try to cram at the last minute. It's time to just work with what you know - confidently!

#3 Eat well, hydrate well. Nourish yourself with what makes you feel optimal inside and out. If you love sauerkraut, try not to overdo it. And you'll want to get a good night's sleep. And yes, remember to avoid dairy on the day! That includes milky coffees. Sorry.


#4 Lean into what excites you the most. What are you most looking forward to? Is it getting into your crazy outfit? Or belting out a song in front of your mates for the first time? Having a celebratory beer afterwards with the choir? These moments can make great anchor points and give you a sense of comfort, so look forward to those, whatever they are. And yes, it will be over in no time!

#5 Create a "feel-good routine". Aim to make time to tick off simple "feel-good" items that will give you a sense of being "on top of things", help you relax and/or get into the zone - whatever resonates with you:

  • treat yourself - make time to have a really long relaxing shower

  • make the mundane interesting - hydrate with your favourite herbal tea

  • work out the jitters - go for a run, stretch and breathe (inflate/deflate), or spend 5 minutes meditating

  • get in the zone - energise by listening/moshing in the lounge room to your favourite (non-choir) playlist

  • find perspective - connect with what really matters in your life, hug your kids/fur babies

  • accept kindness and affirmation - message/chat with people who only have positive things to say to you

  • give kindness and affirmation - express gratitude

#6 Practice breathing. The circulation of oxygen throughout our body calms us. Set aside a few minutes to do this in the days before. It will help ground you in times of need.

Breath Exercise 1: Lay on your back on the floor, arms relaxed by your sides, comfortably. Close your eyes and breathe in and out deeply, slowly, allowing your body to sink into the ground. Visualise each breath filling every part of your body, generously circulating calm. Allow yourself to get into a deeply relaxed state before completing. Breath Exercise 2: When lying on the floor isn't an option, the inhale/hold/exhale exercise is a good option, particularly when doing it with the open/close stretches. Try a 4/4/12 count, exhaling with a "sss" sound and opening/closing your body as you go through it. (Adding a physical movement to breath work, and repetition, however simple or small, can ease the mind when it's racing. It gives you something to anchor your breath to, and something for the mind to gently focus on instead of generating unhelpful thoughts).

On the day of the gig


"Even if you play to a room of only 2 people, every show is a show that counts." - Mel

#1 Be on time. While you can't always anticipate the obstacle that an Elton-John-concert induced traffic jam will be, give yourself a time limit for all activities on the day, commit to leaving on time, and get to the venue on time. You'll feel better for doing so - every little tick contributes to that sense of achievement!




#2 Look after yourself and others. The great thing about being in a choir is that it isn't a solo journey. As a community, the actions we take: from lending a hand and checking in, to offering encouragement, being present and being inclusive - set the tone for the whole group and help everyone get through the highs and lows of an event experience.



#3 Dealing with the audience. Everyone has a different take on the audience. Some like having a supportive familiar face in the crowd, others feel better performing in front of strangers - and some commit their friends and family to the furthest table possible, even better, outside the front door.


A lot of our fear, when stepping out in front of an audience, comes from this feeling that we a) have to win them over; and b) we're not good enough to win them over! Then we find ourselves staring, fearfully, at a long hard road ahead chasing perfection. Perfectly unachievable.

Here's the mantra of truth: everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. They're already in your corner. You're the ones up there, doing something most of them have never done before, something they think is awesome (that's why they're there!) - and they're cheering you on.

Just like you, they want to have a good time - and they'll take that cue from you.



Tips from Leah:

  • If looking at the audience is scary, find three or four points behind and slightly above them and alternate which point you're looking at.

  • Enjoy the music you're singing. If you enjoy it, so will your audience.

#4 What... If... You... Stuff... Up...? We all do. It's what you do next that matters. Coming back to the community of the choir, you've got support all around you. Whether it's a missed line, a forgotten entrance, a dropped prop or a wrong note - stuffing up is part of everyone's process of learning and growing. (Also - see next point about the audience).

"Even professionals fuck up now and then. If you lose your place, stop, breathe and wait for the next familiar spot to join back in. The audience has no idea what the arrangements are, so they'll likely not even notice!" - Leah

If you still think stuffing up in front of others is the end of the world, here's a great quote from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

"Singing is so much more than hitting the right note. It's about connecting with the audience, connecting with something divine, connecting to your most primitive and deepest intuition, and to your nature as a human on this planet."

Bam.


#5 What if there's a technical issue and the mic doesn't work? If say, there was a technical issue - that's up to the crew to handle. Carry on, breathe, be patient. These things do happen! If there's a major delay or issue, one of us will step in with a cue, direction or acknowledgment with the audience. This is also why sound check is super important - we try to iron out all the technical stuff before the gig and help you familiarise yourself with how things will work on the night.


#5 Celebrate the wins. ALL of them. Small, Medium and Big. We focus so much on what went wrong, that we allow it to become part of the formula that diminishes what went right. If you choose to focus on all the things you felt went wrong, especially in a collective sense, you're diminishing others, too. So this final point is about celebrating ALL the WINS as a group. Your sense of success may differ to the next person, and what you see as a choir failure, may have contained an achievement for someone else. Be open and empathetic - especially because a lot of people are hard enough on themselves as it is, even if you can't see it.



After the gig (...when the crowds are gone)

#1 Celebrate the wins (cont...) because it's also a really important part of the post-event journey. After working towards an event for months, your adrenalin hits a high and then once it's all over (and it will be over very quickly) you might experience a sort of post-event low. Some of us spend this time ruminating on the things that didn't go well, or weren't part of our "success plan" - and sometimes you get into an odd isolated feeling like suddenly you've got no one to talk about it with, or no one understands what you just went through - and then it's like... did any of it even happen?!


#2 Make it a feel good, recovery day after. Do something that makes you feel good, re-energises or relaxes you the next day.


#3 Get in the FB chat - and share some positive comments with your choir mates! Shout out to a great moment from the night or the preparation process, doesn't have to be about singing specifically - just sharing snapshots, insights and memories from the event can help everyone process the experience and live in the moment a little bit more.


#4 Turn "the other stuff" into learning moments. Still thinking about stuff you wish had gone differently? Totally okay. If it helps, write them down along with what could be done differently or considered for next time. If you have feedback for us, there will be an opportunity in the following week to send that through - and I will do a check in to see how everyone has recovered.


#5 Be inspired and excited. Looking forward, after this experience, what would you like to aim for next time? What might be your new goal? Often, these experiences can lend themselves to sparking inspiration and confidence in other areas of our lives, too. Don't be afraid to use that momentum!




 

Finally, just have fun. We actually want you to have a great performing experience, whether it's your first or tenth time doing so. Why? Because life's too short to always be sitting in the audience watching a heavy metal choir...!


"Breathe and take in the moment. It flies by so quickly, bask in it a bit and enjoy!! :) It's highly addictive!" - Mel

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