Stage Fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience, whether actually or potentially (for example, when performing before a camera). In the context of public speaking, this fear is termed glossophobia, one of the most common of phobias. Such anxiety may precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation. In some cases stage fright may be a part of a larger pattern of social phobia or social anxiety disorder, but many people experience stage fright without any wider problems. Quite often, stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often a long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth, erectile dysfunction.
(Information gotten from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_Fright )
Acording to Webster.com:
noun Definition of STAGE FRIGHT: nervousness felt at appearing before an audience
(Information gotten from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stage+fright?show=0&t=1299021574 )
When I was younger, even up to my teen years, I didn't have many major issues with stage fright. In fact, standing in front of people and singing was something I loved to do! Even my first couple years of college, I managed with out any major stage fright issues. Now, you might say, "Everyone gets a little bit of stage fright!" And maybe they do. Mine has turned into some major issues!
It all started in college. I remember towards the end of my freshman year, I had to sing in a studio recital. Now, a studio recital is when each person that is a student under a certain professor prepares a piece and sings it in front of his/her peers and other people. I was going to sing the classic Italian aria "Caro Mio Ben." I had practiced this piece non-stop. I had also heard numerous other students perform it and practically had it memorized before I even started to learn it. So, I was well rehearsed. I started getting all of the symptons of stage fright. I had dry mouth to the point that I couldn't swallow. I couldn't get my dress to look right no matter what I did, so, I kept figitting with it. My stomach had butterflies, millions of them, flying around, trying to get my attention.
I had gotten nervous before, but this was real stage fright! The semester before, I survived my vocal juries by learning and memorizing all of my pieces two weeks before. That really pissed my voice professor off! I hardly had any nerves at all from that. But now that I was picking my own pieces, my nerves were out of control.
The stage fright issues just got continually worse from there. No matter how much I practiced and rehearsed a piece, I would freak out when it came to performing it. I remember getting ready to sing Carmen's "Habenera" and not being able to memorize it! I was almost in tears before my jury. Then, it didn't get picked anyway!
I survived a Junior and a Senior recital with out dying from stage fright. After college, most of my singing performances were of the karaoke type. One time, my company was having Mark Hayes as a clinician. He had just put out a couple vocal books. One was a Christmas book, one was a contemporary hymn settings, and one was a book of older hymns and spirituals. Well, I was asked to sing a couple pieces. One had to be from the New Contemporary Hymns and one from the Christmas book. I chose "O' Holy Night" and "Silent Night" from the Christmas book, and from the other book, I can't even remember what title I chose. Well, I survived both Christmas pieces in my rehearsal with Mark. Those were carols I had been singing my entire life! When it came to the new contemporary hymn, I could barely get through it! I had rehearsed it on my own for weeks, yet, I couldn't sing it for the composer/arranger! I was getting upset, and I think he could tell. He decided that we would just do the Christmas carols, and we would skip the new contemporary hymn. I felt like a failure. I don't know why I was having so many problems! I even had the books in front of me on a music stand!
The stage fright just grew from there! I even get nervous at karaoke, especially if I'm not comfortable with the crowd. I love to karaoke, but sometimes I put that first song in and sit and shake. I like to go to karaoke places where I know the people and feel comfortable singing in front of them. The less people, the better!
I still sing in churches. My sorority volunteers for a church service at a nursing home. February was my month to provide the music. I started getting nervous the night before. I took a Mark Hayes song, "There is a Balm in Gallead." I also took, "He Sent His Son" from the LDS children's Hymnal. I had picked the two songs out a couple days before. I knew the LDS song in and out. The Mark Hayes arrangement, I had just learned a couple days before. Well, I went in a rehearsed with the accompanist an hour before the service. He is AMAZING! We sang through them. I survived "There is a Balm in Gillead." I started getting nervous in the rehearsal when we started singing "He Sent His Son." It went a little bit too fast. I told the accompanist, and he agreed to slow it down. That way, I could get the words out. The nervousness started to get worse. The service started, and I sang the Mark Hayes piece. It went just fine. I sat down and listened to the sermon. I stopped thinking about singing and really listened. Then, it felt like, all the sudden, it was time to sing again. I got up to sing again. I started shaking and my mouth dried up. I sang the piece shakey and what Randy and Paula would say, it was "pitchy!" Why was I so nervous all the sudden? This is a piece of music I've sang for years!
Even though I wasn't extremely happy with the performance, I got a lot of compliments. I aslo was complimented on song choice, and how they happened to match the Reverend's topic of his sermon.
The world didn't end though. How do I start managing my nerves?