Monday, 17 December 2012

Helping Children Overcome Stage Fright

I find that actually no amount of coaxing and preparation CAN really prepare someone of that stage fright feeling. I mean when it comes to the real thing... the actual performance day... the real deal.
Adults get it too!
When we're nervous about wanting to do it right... when we are under-prepared... or simply an introvert who prefers not to be under that many limelights... The sensation of when those butterflies in your stomach just refuse to quit fluttering around... It happens.
Parents can get butterflies in their stomach just by watching their kids on stage too! 
That said, by means of preparation can a child feel more confident when it comes to the big day. That's the reason why concerts have rehearsals no matter how big and no matter how small... It can be a play, a small group recital, a quiet ballet performance, a dance or maybe even a role of a narrator or emcee for an event... All involved will require practice. Lotsa practice.
Here are some stuff i do with mine... Just to share. 
  • If it's a script, a narration or even just a simple rhyme/song to be memorized, i give it a couple of days to a week for me & my DDs to run through together. Just on paper. We take turns to read expressively and correctly. Especially for a narrator... There will be occasions where there needs to be a pause, a paced-up line, a sound... timing and intonation makes a difference.
  • When the memorization process is done, if it requires hand gestures/actions... props... sound effects, (etc)... it will now come into the next step in our practices. By now, the child would have known majority of the words and need less time reflecting on the text while doing the actions or working with the props and stuff.
  • For roles of narrators, it would be nice if the narrator does not have to look down throughout the show to tell the story.. Remember to look up and always keep that smile and contact with the audience. Chin up.
  • Record your practices. Can be just recording a music piece using a voice recorder or handphone... Can also be a video recording using a digicam or even a laptop... Play it back. We can role play by trying out the role our kiddies wud be undertaking as well and intentionally make a boo-boo and show them how we laugh over it together... To emphasize that even adults make boo-boos too, so practice make perfect. For dances or plays, have some pretend props ready from things that you can get in the house.. Make space if you wish to practice and record. Safety first. Don't want to bump into anything.
  • For singing, story telling and the likes... invest in a cheap microphone for effect. I have two types... The lightweight toy kind from Toys R Us complete with stand and two star shaped stage lights, plus some clapping sound effects on the mic too!

  • I also bought a real piece from Courts. The weight of the real mic alone can cause butterflies, hehehee.. 
  • I get them to perform for friends, grandparents and uncles+cousins, like a mini performance for the audience effect... Neighbours too, if you are close to the people in your community! For mini-home shows, you can place a basket or a box where people can come and place their appreciation tokens in sweets or chocolates, cakes or party favours when the show is over. I noe of a friend who did it like buskering. The guests actually put in money - yes - real money!  Relatives pitched between like $2 to $10 and they each gave comments and feedback with regards to the performance.. all in the name of fun & also encouragement for the kiddie.
  • If there are shows, musicals, plays in town... you may want to bring kiddie along for exposure of how a performance is like.. Let kiddie be in the audience. Run through the idea how you are going to be in the audience too when the day comes - the same way how kiddie is in the seat at that time.
  • For every practice done together - just casually throw in the fact that we are proud of them just for the fact that they're doing this and that it is a joy to see them on stage. lotsa hugs... lotsa encouragements and have lotsa fun.
  • Have/Come up with your family's own special "calm-down" technique for the "in-case-you're-feeling-nervous" situations..... like say mebbe slow & light breathing counts of up to 10..... or knotting little pinkie around a corner of a shirt/dress..... or a simple self-chant whisper like "I can do this... I can do this..." I remember watching Ice Age 3 and the coded message when the female elephant; Ellie, was supposedly at a telling stage where she knew that she was gonna give birth, she was just to say, "Peaches." (But she mixed up the code to pineapples... watermelons... and other stuff, which the kiddies and i thought was hilarious!)
  • While the first time may usually be the hardest especially for more introverted children, it may never be the last. The feeling of being on stage can be addictive. Hehee.. Big role or small role, just remember that no matter how it turns out... our child(ren) has/have taken that first step to a public appearance... and that on its own is a BIG priceless experience. 
I know i had anxieties when my DDs had to perform anything... More to the adrenaline rush of excitement. While i ran along to scurry to my seat after helping out with the stage, props and make-up... I always ask, "How're you feelin?" Till today, i can remember vividly that day when DD1 replied, "Mummy, i feel like passing motion..." In fact, she was farting in her stand-by seat.. I just shared with her, "Hey, kiddo. Mummy too! I wish i could flush out all MY butterflies too!" DD1 just laughed at that. "You'll do great! Remember to SMILE and have fun! Mummy will just be out there watching you with daddy and mei-mei.."
She nodded in assurance when she saw me giving her our usual I LOVE U finger gestures... a couple of seats away from the stage. While her voice cracked a little during the opening... she was on a roll for the consecutive skits throughout the dramatic play and dance. She was smiling away & having loads of fun with her friends.. That was when i stopped farting too i suppose... And no... no one fainted... uhhmmm.... at the back...  Mine are silent killers. Thankfully.
At the most, if there really was a whoopful bout of aroma... i'd be like the others too..... looking around like, hey.. who the heck just poofed here...
Whoa man! At least say excuse me, right?

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