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OpryLeigh's avatar

Singers who regularly perform in front of an audience, can you help me with a reoccurring problem I have (details inside)?

Asked by OpryLeigh (24442 points ) April 21st, 2012

Next week I am singing in a charity concert and I am very concerned about my performance. When I am singing I often have a build up of saliva in my mouth (especially when I am nervous) and if there is no time in between phrases to swallow my reflexes end up causing me to swallow in the middle of a phrase which is obvious to the audience.

Now, usually I sing songs that have a decent amount of gaps between the phrases to get a decent amount of breath and swallow any saliva that is in my mouth so it’s not a problem. However, the song I am singing next week has very little space in between phrases to breath, let alone swallow and so I have struggled at every rehearsal to get through the song comfortably. This is causing my nerves to be even worse than usual.

My pianist has managed to put a little instrumental section in the song to give me time to compose myself but I feel that I am cheating if I do this. Ideally I would like to sing the song as it was written because it’s a personal favourite of mine.

I hope this makes sense and any advice you may have on ways to deal with this will be much appreciated. Even if you don’t have advice, I would love to know if you have the same problem when you sing.

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9 Answers

Bill1939's avatar

I tried, unsucessfully, to find an answer by searching the internet. However, a physician may be able to suggest a medication taken as needed that will solve this problem. Good luck.

FluffyChicken's avatar

A small amount of cannabis can help with this, however if you are not a seasoned user, I don’t recommend starting right before a concert.

iphigeneia's avatar

Ah you see, when I am nervous I get a dry mouth, so I can’t really help you here.

I found a list of foods that are supposed to reduce saliva production (here) It includes ginger and pineapple juice, which are good for singers anyway. I definitely recommend the pineapple juice.

What sort of song are you singing? I find that immersing myself in the acting part of performance helps me to forget my nerves, or channel them into a positive use of energy.

gailcalled's avatar

What an interesting question to a non-singer, but I do feel how difficult this must be.

I would think it is a mind-over-matter issue rather than a physical one. How about seeing a hypnotherapist and also learning how to meditate and relax the body?

I used hypnotherapy to help me with anxiety and it (along with an 8-week program on mind-body that I took( helped me enormously.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s site, cited above, has very useful tapes and CDs for what he calls “Full Catastrophe Living.” I used them for years until I essentially had then memorized.

The best of luck to you.

Sunny2's avatar

I agree with @iphigeneia . Become the person of the character singing the song. Before you start singing, shut your eyes briefly and leave your own self behind. Get really involved in what the lyrics are saying. You forget the nerves. Plan out where you will take tiny or long breaths. Are you breathing with your whole ribcage, including the back? Practice doing this and see what happens to the saliva. What you’re going for is control so you don’t panic.
And break a leg.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if you eat something salty if it would dry out your mouth? Or, maybe it does the opposite? I’m not sure, but it seems like some foods, as suggested above, might help you with this. There are many medications that have a side effect of dry mouth, not that I want you to drug up, but a small dose might help? Maybe there is an antianxiety that does this and would have the benefit of feeling less anxious before going on stage, or maybe an antihistimine in a small dose.

I would not feel bad about working with the pianist to help you get through it. I think it is absolutely fine, and shows the creativity, teamwork, and professionalism of both of you.

rooeytoo's avatar

Take a Xanax, one of the side effects is dry mouth and with Xanax you will feel so calm you won’t care whether your mouth is dry or not! I take one when I fly and when I have dental work.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Leanne1986 Will you provide us with an update?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Sure! I didn’t sing to the best of my ability and I was dissapointed in myself for a few days afterwards. I think I just let nerves get the better of me and, maybe, I had already made up my mind that it was going to go wrong because I was unable to get a decent result from rehearsals. However, I did receive some positive feedback so I can’t be too disheartened but I will be more picky with the songs I perform in the future!

Thank you for asking :)

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