Getting a Handle on Performance Anxiety

“It’s not about getting rid of the butterflies in your stomach, it’s getting them to fly in formation.” Sean Critchfield (via Amanda Kaiser)

I have struggled with performance anxiety in my life and I’ve written about it quite a bit (which you can search for – some of it a bit more personal than I think I would get now). It has manifested in a variety of ways:

  • legs shaking
  • unable to get a solid breath
  • phlegm
  • mental fog
  • dryness

Once I dried up so much as a result of it that I went for a high note and my upper lip stuck to the top of my front teeth – and then suddenly released while I was holding it. I had butterflies, all right, and they were not flying in formation. They had taken control of my body. They were evil butterflies. They might have been mutants.

It’s not an issue for me anymore, probably because I’m more comfortable with who I am as a performance and a person. But from about 1999-2008, yikes.

One of the many blogs I wrote on performance anxiety was very specific, and it’s worth a look. Check out Golden Rules for Conquering Performance Anxiety from June 2012. Do you agree with these ideas? How do you deal with performance anxiety? Is it something that you have dealt with? Once? More than once? Every time you get up in front of anyone? Do you wonder why on earth you do it but yet you keep doing it? (I’ll talk about that another time.)

If you have some opinions on the subject, please share them in the comments!


If one of the things that would make you feel more confident about your performing is having a solid foothold on vocal technique, try the MVS Vocal Boot Camp on 1/9/2021.

$40 Early Bird price with EARLYBIRD2021 before 1/1/2021. Contact me for more information or go to https://MezzoidLessonTimes.as.me/MVSVocalBootCamp to register

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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