Center Stage: Tips for Bettering Your Performance
By Christina, age 16, Louisiana
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
His nerves jittered. His body shook in waves of restiveness, and the well-rehearsed lyrics in his mind were constantly fighting with the pattern of erase, write, erase, write. One moment he would forget them, go blank; the next he'd heave a heavy sigh of relief as he closed his eyes upon their return. And then, almost abruptly, the panic would rise from the pit of his stomach to the base of his throat, and what had just been lines and lines of words in his memory were now a complete nothing. His stomach would then knot and, with no prior warning, his number would be called. Showtime, his friends would echo. Disaster, his mind would reply.
Whereas I began this article with the intention of describing an event, I have altered my path onto something more productive and hopefully a tad more useful. I'm not a professional vocalist, nor do I even plan to continue my studies in college, but I am, however, talented in this area (c'mon, people, confidence is key), and this will not be my first time writing on such a topic.
On October 10th, 2007 my friend Megan and I participated in a talent competition held by our local parish fair. By no means has this been our first experience on stage, and it will in no way, of course, be our last. Placing third in our division (out of four contestants), we weren't exactly the most outstanding performers. However, we did put our hearts and souls into it, and I personally feel this is worth more than any ribbon.
I could describe our performance in elaborate detail, but where I do believe readers enjoy a good story, I also believe they'd benefit more from things which might help them instead of entertain. Of course, I always manage to tie a little literature into everything, and that would probably explain my segment at the beginning. :)
Tip for the Best Performance Possible #1: Rehearse.I have to continuously remind myself of this too, so I'll spend little time preaching what I don't always practice. Rehearsing repeatedly is one of the best ways to ensure minimal mishaps concerning your material. The more you know what to do, and you've done it plenty of times before, the easier it will be to carry it out in the final performance, and the easier it will be to remember for possibly a second or third.
Tip for the Best Performance Possible #2: Relax.Please, whatever you do, don't worry yourself. If you're performing by choice, look at it this way: This is your place to shine. This is your moment, and you're going to take it, use it, and maximize it to the best of your ability. If you aren't volunteering, and you're reading this with something such as a school presentation in mind, know that it won't last forever. In moments you will have it done and over with; contemplate the time it will take to speak your piece and minimize the severity in your head. In other words, dream of the end to make it through the beginning.
Tip for the Best Performance Possible #3: Confidence.I cannot stress this enough. If you do not take pride in your work - and this is indeed work - then no one will. Believe you're the best, if only for a moment. Believe that everyone is there to hear you and only you. Believing that you're going to do a job well done will often lead to a job well done. Don't doubt yourself. Know that you may not come out first, but never doubt yourself.
I understand that these are all common sense, but they work. Other tips include not to drink any carbonated beverages beforehand. You don't want to end up burping in the middle of your Grammy-deserving song or lawyer-worthy speech.
Keep eye contact with your audience, or if this is a hard thing to do, study a spot on the wall behind them. Also, remember that a large crowd is much easier to work in front of than a small one. Five people will have all of their attention on you, but I guarantee that out of thirty thousand, five might be the number actually listening. With this in mind, it's easy to do well. The pressure of impressing isn't so high.
Before I draw to an end, I'd like you to remember these three simple things: Know where you're going, know what you're doing, and know how to pull it off. The more knowledge of your audience, your piece, and your routine, the better the show will be. I have no doubt in my mind that it's really as simple as that.
Included below is our a capella performance of Taylor Swift's Tim McGraw. Featured in the white skirt and jean jacket is myself, and in the blue jeans, my friend and duet partner, Megan, who is also 16.*
* This is her real name and I have received permission to use it.