How to Stop "Choking in the Moment"

We've all experienced the phenomenon of rehearsing a song alone in our rooms to great success, then going to perform and....BAM! Everything goes out the window.

Today's video answers a Q from one of my students -- "How do I avoid 'choking in the moment'?" The video below contains my most effectiveย singing and performance tips that willย help you gain control over your mind, body and, ultimately, your singing voice.

The most important thing is to remember is that you DO have control over your thoughts, and ultimately, your voice. Like anything else, it just takes strategy and practice.

Let's make "choking in the moment" a thing of the past!

Please leave me a comment to let me know if you can relate to this!
xo Fel

P.S. In the video I mention that I'd provide links to free meditation resources. Here they are!

Hope they are helpful!


Felicia Ricci

All stories by: Felicia Ricci
  • Angelica F.

    Hi Fel,

    I have had a very recent experience with choking up in the moment during my performance. Last weekend, I performed an original song at a statewide talent show right on the beach. I practiced faithfully since two weeks before the show. I warmed up my voice thoroughly, did some vocal exercises to improve my mixed voice, and realized that each day when I practiced I sounded better and better. The day before my performance, my singing was on point. However, when I performed, I felt like I did not do the best of my ability. My voice cracked once and I felt breathy throughout my whole performance. I'm thinking that it was the nervousness/excitement that I had and my interpretation on how people would judge me while I performed. I highly focused on giving the right expression and singing all the notes to perfection but unfortunately, it did not come out perfect the time of the show. Although I made mistakes I continued performing like I owned the stage. I gotta admit, there were people that didn't like my performance but there were always the few who supported me. This video was very educational and I plan to use these techniques for my next performance.

    • cassia

      Hi ๐Ÿ™‚
      i was singing at the black horse ( a pub were old people go ) i was realy exsited about it and when i finaly went on stage it all went wrong my voice got crookie and i got all worked up it was soooooooooooooooooo embarising
      I havent sang since ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

  • skip

    I sent a comment your site sent me an ERROR --so I'll try again. I enjoy your easy free spirited,and funny deliverance. I HAVE YOUR belting videos, I thank you. Will WORK with them,to check me out. Will let you know.

  • Connie

    Hi Fel,

    What were those meditation web sites you were referencing?

    Thanks for the tips! I find that I get tired or something and lose my focus about 2/3 through the song and then forget where I'm at, if I can start at all that is......I think the memorizing the feeling of meditation could really help.

    • felicia

      Hi Connie! Oops, apologies! I wrote them on my YouTube page but forgot to include them here in the blog. I have since added them to the P.S. of the post. Enjoy! xo

  • Johnny

    You are spot on! I have had all of these same problems . Even though I have sung a long time I still have to wrangle with the issues of what other people think of me instead of as you say just share the message of the song with the audience!!

  • Jon Gold

    I love you!!! (in the most child-like and innocent wayโ€ฆ) I've learned so much from your intro videos and I may move on to the other course(s), but I'm not really a singer, I'm a violin player. You're awesome and I will share your enthusiasm and expertise with others!

  • Niki

    Hi Fel,

    I've definitely had the same experience of being choked up in the moment. It doesn't feel good at all. I feel totally insecure and nervous once it's my turn to get up on stage and sing a song that I've been practicing. And when I actually do start singing, it feels as if my vocal chords are closing up inside me which makes it harder for me to sing any high notes with clarity. There's also a time that when I'm singing and I get too confident and then I mess up as well. If there are any tips for that too I would definitely want to hear from you :). Your video has some really great tips and I can't wait to try them out before my next performance. Thanks for all the help Fel!


  • Therese

    This video is spot on.

    I've been singing for years and have struggled with this one often. Singing is mostly mental then all the technical stuff comes later. Your body will know what to do if you focus on being relaxed and calm first. What you think really affects what happens in reality. If you focus on positive thoughts (or even funny thoughts works), positive self-talk, slow breaths, on the words your are singing, your message, good articulation/enunciation, and being grounded within yourself like Fel says, things will gradually fall into place. I find that telling myself to just focus on 'breath' before I sing really helps to calm the constant and negative mental chatter. But it takes time, practice (eg. meditation/prayer), patience, and gentleness with yourself. Having a great teacher like Fel really helps!

  • Erin

    I have the complete opposite of this problem. I am studying Musical Theatre and find it hard to fully let myself go and give a good performance in class but once I get on stage it all clicks. It just frustrates me because I know I can do it, I just can't in a rehearsal or teaching space.

  • Joy Foster

    Hi Fel,

    You are so awesome. Yesterday, I told two people who want to sing to watch you. What a great teacher you are! I have learned so much since I've found you. Last night, I sang at an open mic. This is something that I have been so afraid to do. However, thanks to what I have learned from you thus far about singing, "I nailed it!" I was so honored when the band members for the club ask me to come back next week and to allow them to play with me. Oh my goodness!!!

    Fel, you helped to make this possible. All of my life I have wanted to sing but was afraid to do it. Now I'm gaining the confidence and learning how to sing to free my beautiful voice. I'm so glad I found you on You Tube.

    This particular lesson today is great too. I will definitely work on the imagery and feel that it will help me greatly when performing. This has been my problem in the past. I would practice at home but when I would get in front of people I would choke. Again, you are helping me to overcome it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Your singing tips have helped to change the course of my life!


  • Elizabeth

    Thank you so much! I am so grateful for your wonderful tips - so simple and yet so impactful. I am practicing for an audition to take place in September. I will use your technique and it will give me confidence.
    Thank you for holding my hand..

  • Nancy K

    I agree with all the comments above - I love your honesty and willingness to share your skills and tips. What a gift. Not everyone is so generous do that. And it's true, you make learning fun!

    As for choking - I've had choking moments when playing piano especially other people's songs - it's been a learning curve playing with others since I've mostly played what I write and sing. Thank God for patient friends willing to play with me and who don't mind going over the song a trillion times. Open mics and songwriter forums have been helpful for me in dealing with stage fright just by going through the process - seems like the more I do it the less I choke. And gigging helps too - I tend to choke less at my own gigs for some reason. I did learn a long time ago if you make a mistake(s) it's important to just keep going no matter what - the version of the song may not be what I practiced - which is maddening - but it's better for the listener not to have to endure a start and stop thing. As listeners we so want the person to do well.

    Thank you Fel for all you do to help those who want to sing, to sing freely with confidence. You are making the world a better place just like the coke song. Wish I had your wonderful tips when I was first starting out. And your website looks great by the way!

  • DL

    Thanks for your videos. I always learn something! This one was fantastic.
    I'd like to share something else that has helped me to overcome choking in the moment:
    Those people have come to hear me perform, which means they already like me. They are there because they WANT to hear me sing.
    This also produces just the right amount of adrenaline. If I'm freaking out with thoughts of what they're thinking about me (you're so right) I'm releasing too much adrenaline, and I can't breathe, which is no good for a singer.

  • Rozanne

    Thanks for this video! As always, it's's also late...and that rhymes too!!! But the new website is REALLY nice, so we can all forgive you.

    I think messing up in the moment is often something that singers fear so much, it ends up happening simply because it's something you anticipated. The short version of how to prevent this problem would probably be to just say "Chill out! And let it be." but that wouldn't have helped much..could work for a Vine version, though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Marion

    Hey Fel,
    You are awesome! I'm not even sure how I came across your videos on YouTube but I am so grateful that I did! I LOVE singing for my own pleasure, not necessarily performing in front of anyone (well, except for singing around my two young boys and hubby ๐Ÿ™‚ and I loved your Belting Course - so fun and I saw immediate results from your instruction! I find singing joyful and you are a gifted teacher who makes it incredibly easy to find my inner voice and centered breath. I'm also a psychologist and Life Coach and your tips re anxiety and performance are spot on. Thanks for sharing what you have with the world! xo

  • Julie

    Hi Felicia, I'm taking your paid lessons through Udemy. I just love your style of teaching. You are funny, and every time I tune into you, I am filled with joy and don't go away without a good chuckle or two or three. The material you cover is also right on the mark! You have the uncanny ability to take serious issues that we have about our singing selves and then shake it off by identifying it, having a chuckle about it, then fixing it. Thanks so much for what you do. I am so glad I found your singing lessons on line. Please keep doing what you do best. I'm smiling and singing right back at you.

    Warmth & Kindness,


  • Veronica

    I recently learned about heartmath as part of a wellness program for adrenal fatigue. I have never been "into" meditation, I do not easily relax hence the adrenal fatigue ๐Ÿ™‚ but since my doctor recommended only 5 mins per day a few times per day, I gave it a try. I was also instructed to do these breathing exercises when I was in a stressful moment. What I found in a very short period of time, was that my body's response to stress was to automatically go into a relaxed state before I even started my breathing techniques! So this may be for someone like me who does not relax easily and hates committing their precious time to meditation. The technique I used was to breath in and visualize a ball rolling up a hill, as I breathed out I visualized the ball rolling down the hill as steady as my breath. Breathe comfortably and deeply but don't make yourself dizzy. Info on Heartmath is available online.

  • angela

    Thank you for sharing this video. I just faced this experience last weekend. I had a song i was supposed to sing so we needed to practice before we performed. The problem was i felt my throat was dry as a dessert and when i sang high note i was reaching too much it sounded horrible, To me anyways. My director lowered the key a lot so it threw me off. I had practice it so much in the other key. Lets just say after that it pretty much became train wreck. I was way too much in my head i lost my confidence completely that i messed up on both my songs.

  • melody

    Hi Fel, I love the imagery you've used for "grounding" oneself and the "psyching up" before and during performnce. I have a singing engagment coming up and will use these techniques! will let you know what happens! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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