How To Overcome Stage Fright- A Singer’s Guide

how to overcome stage fright

The first time I sang solo in front of a crowd I was 13 and petrified. It was a recital held at my middle school and I was to sing an Italian art song. By this time, I had been taking voice lessons for 2 years and knew that I wanted to be a singer. I had played in dozens of piano recitals, but this was different. This was scarier.

I stood in front of my peers and their parents, grasping my skirt with clenched fists. The pianist started and my eyes welled up with tears. I was frozen. A few more unbearable moments passed until someone shouted “You can do it, Meg!”. That expression of support helped me pull myself together. I made it through the whole song, accepted the kind applause and hurried off the stage. Was it an awesome performance? Probably not, but I considered it a great success.

Stage fright can make a grown adult feel like a scared middle schooler. Singing is so personal- the instrument is literally part of your body and no two voices are the same. Singing in front of someone else, whether it be a voice teacher or a crowd of people, takes courage and confidence.

How To Overcome Stage Fright

1.) Start Small.

If you have dreams of singing on stage but are too scared, start small. Sing in front of a few trusted friends or book a voice lesson. Singing in front of a professional singer/stranger can be intimidating but voice lessons are safe spaces where you can feel comfortable making mistakes.

Your next step could be signing up to sing one song at an open mic on a Monday night. If the idea of singing alone seems impossible, get a friend to join you. A duet is a nice safety net- choose a singing partner who has some experience singing in front of an audience. With each performance, you’ll gain confidence and control over your fear.

2.) Practice And Prep.

The more confident you are with your vocal ability/control, the less scared you’ll be when you step on that stage. Obviously, know your song inside and out. Lyrics are the first thing to fly out the window when you’re nervous. If you do loose your lyrics, keep going! I’ve forgotten lyrics on stage more times than I can count, but no one was the wiser because I kept going. My brain has even created new rhymes on the spot and supplied random Italian-sounding syllables f0r forgotten passages.

You can gain control of your voice by doing vocal and ear training exercises. I recommend these-

5 Easy Vocal Warm-ups For Singers

2 Challenging Vocal Exercises For Singers

Singing Exercises For Better Breath Control

Solfege- A Beginner’s Guide

The Solfege Scale- Exercises For Singers

Solfege Exercises For Singers

Train You Ear With Solfege Syllables

One of the biggest fears I hear students mention is “What if my voice cracks?!”. If your voice is healthy and well trained, that’s probably not going to happen. Voices usually crack due to dry vocal cords or tension. Make sure you drink plenty of water the day of the performance so that you won’t be dehydrated. I feel confident about 95% of the time that when I open my mouth to sing, I know exactly what’s going to come out.

3.) Stay Calm

Trained singers use a breathing technique called diaphragmatic breathing (deep/belly breathing) while singing. Deep breathing also happens to be a great way to calm your nerves and focus your energy. Take 10 slow, deep breaths before you go on stage. Feel your heart rate drop. Focus on having an easy, successful performance.

Check out these video tutorials on diaphragmatic breathing-

Breathing Technique For Singing

3 Easy Breathing Exercises For Singing

I like to have some chamomile tea with honey and lemon to relax. (A glass of wine can work wonders as well).

4.) Realize That Your First Performance May Not Be Great, And That’s OK.

Hey, you may go out on stage for the first time and bring the house down. More likely though, your first solo performance in front of a crowd won’t be perfect. Think of it as a stepping stone to your next performance. There is no way around it- to overcome stage fright, you have to get on stage.

I hope these tips on how to overcome stage fright are helpful. Please share your stories about overcoming stage fright in the comments section!


  • herm stillman

    Reply Reply January 6, 2017

    Very helpful for me, especially the part about inventing lyrics when the right ones escape you, since no one in the audience will be the wiser unless they really know the song. I have also sometimes copied lyrics/key words on a small piece of masking tape that I attach to the inside of my wrist or palm. Happy New Year!

  • Meghan Nixon

    Reply Reply January 6, 2017

    Great suggestion Herm! I’ve done that myself from time to time 🙂

  • VideoPortal

    Reply Reply March 15, 2017

    The good news is that performance anxiety is common and treatable. If you want to overcome this problem, you can! But in order to overcome it, you must first understand how it works.

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