Preparation is Everything – performance tips from Izaline Calister

In some of my Newsletters, a special guest shares their ‘lessons from the road’: things they have learned and experiences they have had in their music careers. The guest is a singer, songwriter, musician or teacher whose work inspires me in some way, or I think deserves special attention. I think these ‘lessons’ can be an inspiration to many of us, so I thought I would share them here on my blog too. Let’s start with some Lessons from my archives! In this blog you will find the ‘Lessons from the Road’ from the guest in my December 2011 newsletter.

Composer and lyricist Izaline Calister inspires me because of her ability to have remained true to her musical roots while she has developed her own distinctive personal musical style. Her work also proves how important it is for a singer to first and foremost express themselves through their music. Even if it means you will end up singing in a language that most of the people in the world don’t understand! Izaline discovered that the language in which she could express herself the best was her own mother tongue, Papiamentu.

Now Izaline can even be considered an ambassador for the Papiamentu language, as she has brought this widely unknown language to the world in her music that weaves together Afro-Antillean and Caribbean music with Jazz. Everything that she does has a connection to her cultural heritage and her musical roots. Izaline is a charismatic performer and her songs have reached the hearts of audiences around the world.



Izaline’s Lessons From The Road:

“I meet a lot of singers during concerts, coaching, and so on. Singers often ask me how to deal with stage fright. I don’t have an immediate remedy (I don’t think that exists) but I know some things that might help”:

“My experience with jogging is that when you jog regularly (I guess any kind of tiring sport will do) your body releases endorphins that make you able to handle stress much better. It worked great for me during my final exams at the conservatory 🙂 However, please don’t start jogging for the first time ever on the day of an important gig…”

Know your stuff:
“I meet a lot of singers that get very nervous before their gigs. And then I find out it’s because they are insecure about the lyrics, the form or the melody of a song. These insecurities make them more nervous than they would normally be. So guys…prepare your stuff in advance. If you know you are not good with lyrics…don’t wait till the last minute to learn them. Start weeks in advance and know them so well they’ll be there even if you’re nervous!”

Surround yourself with musicians that give you confidence:
“If you are really nervous about performing, it does not exactly help if the musicians you play with become more nervous than you. Make sure you band consists of people that are better, more confident and experienced than you. You’ll learn a lot, be confident and know they will save your ass when push comes to shove….”

Take time to create the best circumstances for your best achievement.
“Make sure you have the time and opportunity to soundcheck. It really helps your performance if you feel good about the sound. Aim for the best location, the best schedule, take time to work on the best setlist you can think of, and keep trying to perfect that setlist-making skill for future gigs.”

Last but not least, prepare yourself mentally right before the gig.
“If that means you have to be alone in a closet for 5 minutes, just do it! Get on that stage as the focused, well prepared, confident and fabulous singer you are! And go get them!!!”


Visit Izaline’s website to read more about her projects and stay updated on her tour schedule:

TIP: Izaline and I teach a special workshop & masterclass on vocal technique and interpretation together. The workshop can be booked for singers and students at music schools and conservatories. Get in touch for more information!


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