Mustering enthusiasm from the outside in

I love to sing, and I do it all sorts of places and times. But sometimes, I don’t feel like it when I’m supposed to. It is unfortunate when those times coincide with a concert or important rehearsal! Waking up the body and brain can wake up enthusiasm, or at least get us a step closer. Here are some strategies for those times you feel tired, not completely well, or a little blue:

  • Vigorous movement – I was playing Hucklebee in The Fantasticks, and the director wanted a frenetic start to the show, which consisted of me entering the stage while wrestling with putting on my pants. This was the only stage show that I can recall where I felt like I was not wired enough to start the show, so during the overture I used to jump up and down and wave my arms around backstage. It brought me to a state of hyperactivity that made the scene lively (and fun). Nervous bumbling was exactly what I wanted, rather than what I dreaded!
  • Practicing at home can be an especially low-energy affair, and can get us accustomed to a situation that is very far removed from what inspired singing feels like. Try some gentle exercise at home, or a brisk walk before you sing.
  • Leave your home, then return and go to directly to your studio and start singing immediately.
  • I had a teacher in college who would have us run up and down several stories of stairs and then perform our audition, to simulate the adrenaline effects of the real situation. Not my favorite, but not a bad exercise for dealing with the wacky audition situations in the real world.
  • Before you go on stage, strike the “Wonder Woman” pose and hold for two minutes. This can lead to an expansive, confident feeling.
  • Mix it up in your practice sessions. Sing recital sets out of order, dress up to practice, change keys, tempos, characterizations. Yes, just for change’s sake, because it gets you out of the rut and makes you more alert. Don’t overthink it, but do rethink it!

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