So – you’ve got a performance coming up! You may be feeling any number of emotions from nervousness to excitement, and you might be feeling them all at once. Trust me – it’s normal.

Preparing well before a show can help any musician to minimize the effects of nerves. Still, as a vocalist, there are certain things you should consider that instrumentalists don’t. For instance, you likely have words to remember.

Another big consideration is that your physical body is your instrument. This post will offer tips for keeping both you and your instrument happy and healthy as you gear up to give the best performance possible!

Eat and Drink the Right Things.

It’s amazing how much and how quickly your body can respond to what you consume. While every body is different, there are a few rules of thumb that singers should stick to before performances.

Hydrate Well.

Water is essential to so many bodily functions. Drinking water throughout the day as a rule of thumb will benefit your whole body long-term.

In regards to your vocal cords, water lubricates them and improves their elasticity. This will allow you to navigate notes more easily than you could in a dehydrated state.

It’s important to note that for your vocal cords to be properly hydrated, the water needs time to do it’s work. It’s best to hydrate all day the day before your performance. Keep a bottle on hand for leading up to/during the show as well. Remember as well that room temperature water is best for vocalists, especially on performance day.

In regards to beverages to avoid, try to cut out alcohol, caffeine laden beverages, and other diuretics as they’ll dry out your vocal folds.

Avoid Dairy, Heavy Foods, and Sugar.

Dairy products can be one of your biggest enemies as a vocalist. Your body can create excess mucus in response to cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream, and even chocolate. That mucus can cause you to have to clear your throat constantly and keep your vocal cords from moving as quickly as you’d like.

It’s in your best interest to avoid soda, super-sweet and acidic juices, and other sugary substances as you lead up to performance day. Try cutting out all of these things a week before if you can, and 3 days before at the latest.

On the day of your show, remember to eat foods with iron and protein to keep your energy up, but avoid anything too heavy.

Warm Up, Cool Down, and Rest Well.

Your vocal cords are muscles. Just like you need to warm up before and cool down and rest after a workout, you should warm up, cool down, and rest your voice.

Warm Ups.

Vocal warm ups should start at a comfortable pitch for you and gradually work their way through your entire range. Here are a few examples.

This video walks you through several vocal scales and arpeggios using various patterns.

This video explains what Lip Trills are, why they’re beneficial for warmups, and how to execute them. Included in the video’s description box are links to both female and male warmup tracks as well.

This 10 minute video guides you through various vocal warmups that also incorporate a bit of diction practice.

Cool Downs.

Gradually relaxing and stretching your vocal cords after you’ve used them is a great way to ensure longevity and prevent injury. Use these videos as reference or search out your own!

This 5-minute video walks you through various cool down exercises at decreasing volumes.

A cool down routine for the ladies or those with higher ranges!

A cool down routine for the guys or those with lower ranges!

Rest Well.

Your voice needs time to recover!

Try to get 8-10 hours of sleep the night before your performance.

Go on “vocal rest” the day before you perform. Limit your talking, avoid either shouting or whispering, and be sure not to sing much or too forcefully. Continue your vocal rest until it’s time to warm up for your performance!

If you feel any pain at all while practicing/prepping, stop singing immediately and drink water. Allow you vocal cords time to recover naturally for the day, and if the pain persists, talk to your vocal instructor and/or throat doctor.


When it comes to performance day, you’re going to want to have as little stress as possible. There are several things to do to make sure you can go into cruise mode when it’s time for the show:

Learn your words.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, singers have to do something most instrumentalists don’t – remember all the words.

When it comes to memorization, writing down your lyrics can be a great help. While you’re writing, you can also take time to mark where you should take breaths or add dynamics.

Additionally, keeping your song(s) on repeat (while it may make you sick of them) will ensure that you’re familiar with your material.

Practice it the same way you want to perform it.

Practicing as you wish to perform will allow you to strengthen any areas that need reinforcement. It will also give you the confidence to execute the music the way you’d like because – you guessed it – you’ve done it that way before.

Get there early.

Arriving at the venue early allows you to do a number or things:

  • Find parking.
  • Do a full sound check and ensure you’re comfortable with the setup.
  • Clear your mind as you sip on your room-temperature pre-performance water.

Hopefully, these 3 tips will help you prepare for your vocal performance well and help alleviate any pre-performance jitters you might get. Remember, the more you perform (and the better you take care of yourself and your voice) the better you’re likely to get!

Want to learn more about vocal performance?