6 Tools for Managing Audition Anxiety

joannacazdenGuest Blogger: Joanna Cazden is the author of Everyday Voice Care (Hal Leonard Books). This is an excerpt of an article on MajoringinMusic.com. Please visit their site for all 6 of Joanna’s tips.

Managing your audition anxiety is key to your audition success. You want to be at your peak of health, relaxation, and confidence when you stand on that stage. But your anxiety about the outcome can feel like an impossible obstacle.

Performance anxiety is normal. Professionals learn how to manage it, but it never fully goes away. So don’t interpret your fear as a sign that you have no talent, or don’t deserve to succeed.

Here are 6 tools that may help—things I’ve learned from my own performing life, from my training as a speech therapist, and from coaching and counseling students like you.

1. The #1 antidote to anxiety is being prepared. So practice! The moments before you perform are when you’ll be most nervous, so work that sequence just as you work your music. Rehearse walking in, what you’ll say to the faculty, and your cues for the accompanist.

Link these actions to breathing: exhale-pause-inhale before you enter, before you speak, and before you start your music. This breath sequence—and your attention to it—will help keep you calm.

2. When you’re bored or in a rut, change it up. Run your pieces too fast, then very slowly, with comic attitude one day and melodrama the next. Do them in crazy order with dance or calisthenics in between.

Plug in competing music at the same time. Wear a stupid hat. These variations help keep your interpretation fresh. More important, they prepare you to cope with the unexpected distractions—snowstorms, family crises—that could challenge your audition.

During the last week before auditions, just run the program straight so that you’re not confused when you need to be clear.

3. Mentally practice, as athletes do. Go through the audition in your mind, seeing and feeling yourself glide easily from front door through hardest arpeggio to final exit. This reinforces your skills and you can do it anywhere.

Read the last three tips on MajoringinMusic.com!

Keeping the voice healthy used to be as mysterious as the power of voice itself. Modern science has revealed much about the vocal mechanism and its health requirements, but simple information for the average voice user has remained hard to find and harder to trust. In Everyday Voice Care: The Lifestyle Guide for Singers and Talkers, respected voice therapist Joanna Cazden brings together a wealth of practical tips and advice to help keep your own expressive voice in top working order.

Everyday Voice Care: For Teachers

Guest Blogger: Joanna Cazden is the author of Everyday Voice Care. Below is an excerpt she wrote for the blog STAGENOTES.NET.

What does voice care mean to you? Most people in the arts have heard about drinking lots of water (true, even though it doesn’t actually ‘wet your vocal cords’); not clearing your throat (true, although figuring out why you have the urge to clear, and solving it, is more useful); and not screaming (but what if the kids won’t listen, or the actor has to rehearse that murder-scene a dozen times?).

It’s frankly hard for teachers to avoid vocal problems. Researchers at the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) have identified teachers as the professional group most frequently treated for voice problems.

Eric J. Hunter, deputy executive director NCVS, told MSNBC in 2011 that “On average, teachers are more than twice as likely as non-teachers to have voice problems and about three times more likely to see a doctor about the issue.” Other research has shown that music and drama teachers have perhaps the highest risks—leading loud activities, working in cavernous acoustical spaces, demonstrating parts outside of their own voice range, and spending endless unpaid hours raising money or coordinating parent-volunteers

Meanwhile, young fans of American Idol and The Voice see vocal performance as a one-shot, worth-any-sacrifice blast of fireworks, rather than a life-long, everyday commitment to training and self-care. How can a teacher, coping with high personal risks of overuse and injury, help performing arts students to take proper care of their voices?

Keep reading this post on StateNotes.net!

Everyday Voice Care

Drawing from her experience as a singer, theater artist, and a licensed speech pathologist who has treated more than 1,000 voice patients, Cazden integrates up-to-date medical information with common-sense suggestions and sympathy for the demands of contemporary life. Chapters on food and drink, cold remedies, loud parties, travel, fitness routines, and when to see a doctor are complemented by notes on alternative health care and the spiritual dimension of vocal rest. This invaluable resource for voice and speech professionals, students, and teachers will answer even the age-old question of whether to put lemon or honey in your tea.

Voice Mechanics: How Your Instrument Works

Guest Blogger: Joanna Cazden is the author of Everyday Voice Care. Below is an excerpt she wrote for the blog STAGENOTES.NET.

The sound of a human voice is easy to appreciate; we’re wired to respond to both small nuances of tone and to the wide-ranging power of full-throat artistry. But we’re not wired to feelour own voices very well. There are very few sensory nerves inside the voice box, and it’s tucked just out of sight, “around the corner” below the tongue, so that we can’t see ourselves talk or sing.

Until recent decades, even medical science had only a general idea of how the voice works. Advances in fiberoptic and audio technologies have changed all that. But although everyone can now find online photos and videos of vocal cords in action, it can still be hard to understand what’s really going on.

Try this: think of a hollow tube with a long hole in the side near one end, and at the other end a division or branching into two smaller tubes.  You might imagine a hollow tree with a tall owl nest near the top, and at the bottom, two roots going down, a bigger one in front of a smaller one.

The large open tube represents the throat (pharynx). Its upper opening becomes the nose and mouth; its middle area is half-encircled by the jaw; and at its low end, the front tube (airway, windpipe or trachea) leads to your lungs and the back one (gullet or esophagus) leads to the stomach. Once you’re past that divide, there is very little sensation, because the breathing and digestive tubes do their work unconsciously.

Where then are the vocal cords? Well, a little way down into the airway, there’s a flexible valve that is flat across and can open at the back to create a V shape. The throat structures that surround this valve are known as the voice box (larynx). Its front landmark is the Adam’s Apple and the edges of the V are your vocal cords.  The cords (also called vocal folds) are made of a layer of muscle, a softer layer of vibrating gel, a stiffer ligament that protects the edge, all wrapped in a mucous membrane as wet as the inside surface of your cheek.

The vocal valve (formally called the glottis) is partly open most of the time, for the breathing that keeps you alive. It opens extra-wide when you gulp in a big breath, or pant heavily during exercise. It closes very tightly to protect your airway when you swallow or cough. All of these positions are controlled by tiny pivoting structures at the back of the larynx, right in front of the valve that leads to the esophagus.

Keep reading this post on STAGENOTES.NET.

Everyday Voice Care

Drawing from her experience as a singer, theater artist, and a licensed speech pathologist who has treated more than 1,000 voice patients, Cazden integrates up-to-date medical information with common-sense suggestions and sympathy for the demands of contemporary life. Chapters on food and drink, cold remedies, loud parties, travel, fitness routines, and when to see a doctor are complemented by notes on alternative health care and the spiritual dimension of vocal rest. This invaluable resource for voice and speech professionals, students, and teachers will answer even the age-old question of whether to put lemon or honey in your tea.