I get a lot of messages from fellow singers and new singers alike who want advice regarding performing so I figured it might be helpful to write a blog post about performing in front of A LOT of people!
The very first thing I do is to learn the words 'forwards & backwards', and this is how I do it...
- Type up the words, print them out and put them around the house and on my phone.
- I then rewrite the words by hand many times.
- I then read the words out loud like poetry and do hand gestures, which seems very odd but it helps me learn the words quickly. (My neighbours must think I’m nuts)
As singing is my full-time job, it means I usually practise 6 times a week and have regular sessions with my vocal coach Kathy Taylor Jones. I receive a lot of messages from young girls asking how to have a career in the singing world and my best piece of advice is to work (really) hard and find a great vocal coach. We work on many techniques such as breathing, jaw, music, larynx but its also very important to find someone you trust and who believes in you as this industry is an emotional roller coster most of the time.
It sounds obvious but not getting ill before a big performance is SO important and sometimes a nightmare to manage, especially during the Winter! Here is a list of things I do to try and keep healthy:
- Don’t drink alcohol
- Exercise regularly (good for both body & mind)
- Drink a lot of water and tea (I have a VocalZone every time I sing)
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Take vitamin supplements (if you need to)
- Have a regular sleep pattern
- During the Winter I try and avoid public transport as so many people are coughing & sneezing etc
- Avoid being out in crowded bars/places where you might strain your voice
- Wrap up like an Eskimo (always!)
I prefer to get to the venue basically 95% ready with hair & make-up done so I only have to put my dress on and lipstick. You never know what will happen onsite, sometimes before a show or performance it can be rather stressful if the soundcheck is delayed or sound equipment is not working properly. So, I have a rather dull porridge before I arrive which I know will give me energy and not upset my stomach, my hair is done by the very-talented Nina and I do my own make-up. Many of you may not know that years ago I actually worked as a beauty buyer so have some knowledge of how to do my make-up - although I had some very questionable results at university! ;-)
Although you are only singing for exactly 46 secs when it comes time for the Anthem performance - a Wembley Stadium performance day is actually very long day as you have to arrive super-early for the soundcheck and then remain there all day until kick-off. For my last performance there, earlier this year, the call time was at 8.45am and no sooner had I arrived and put my things in the changing room but I found things had changed and they needed me on-pitch earlier than anticipated for sound check and I hadn't even warmed up! The sound check typically takes about 20 mins we run through the song, work out where I will be standing to perform, check the levels are all ok etc. It’s such a surreal experience to perform in an empty stadium and it sounds completely different than it does once you fill the stands with 90,000 screaming fans. Once that is done we take a wonder around the pitch and hubby takes some pictures of me for the 'Gram ha ha….
After this is all done, my vocal coach (if she has come) and I do a small warm up and then there’s a 4 hour wait which feels like the longest 4 hours imaginable! It mostly consists of resting my voice, staying calm, breathing exercises and gentle warm ups. I am called to the players tunnel (which for all you fans is just a carpeted corridor really) and at this point there is an odd sense of calm - all the players are quiet and everyone just wants to get on with it.
We stand at the side of the pitch and then I am instructed to go on the pitch it all happens so fast yet so slowly at the same time and then the drum roll begins tralallalalalla
The roar of 90,000 screaming fans after you finish is deafening and the wave of relief and happiness that all went well makes everything worth it.
Time to watch the game.
I want to make it clear that having a career in music is not easy. Not one of the other students who studied music with me at university is still pursuing a career in music, it’s ruthless and while yes it can appear on Instagram that it’s all ball gowns, events and glamour glamour glamour... 99% of my time is spent just sitting alone in a rehearsal room studying music. The rejection is constant and relentless but if it’s the only thing you want to do and that 1% makes you happy enough then follow your dreams and GOOD LUCK!