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November, 2012

"More Performing Tips"

by Webmaster

I played a song in a concert last month. I had back-up singers behind me. I finished the turn around after the last chorus and waited for the backup singers to do their part. Apparently they did and I went black at the precise moment. I never heard them do their part. We'd practiced that song and I thought I could do it on auto-pilot. I wasn't nervous or distracted. I was just blank. A friend told me, "That's the problem. You weren't nervous. A little nervous energy would have kept you alert and aware."

Maybe so. More sleep the night before would have helped. A good meal the right amount of time before the show would have help. Less anxiety about my dying dog would have helped. Less concern about my new boots would have helped. Remembering to bring everything I needed would have helped.

In other words, as much as we practiced, I wasn't prepared to perform that night. My voice was good, my guitar was in tune, and I knew the material. But I forgot the basics of physical and emotional preparation.

I ended the song with the right chord progression. With the exception of the back-up singers and one person in the audience, no one else noticed. It was that night's arrangement. But, it threw me a bit—rattled my self-confidence.

So, five days later, when I did a new intro to a song, part of a poem I'd written recently, I remembered the week before and was nervous—not doing the poem, but when I got into the song. Again, I did well. I just wasn't as comfortable as I wanted to be. I was a little nervous. But, at least I was alert and aware.

Last month's column brought up a bunch of performance tips, about practicing, the use of cover tunes, variations in keys and tempos, creating good introductions for songs, and engaging the audience.

Discmakers Oct blog talks about what makes a good show.

It states that an audience is looking to be captured and engaged, to experience moments, and to have their lives changed.

We, as songwriters and performers, want to give them that. The blog gives four suggestions:

  1. Think about what the special moments in a song might be. It might not be the way you recorded it.
    I heard a songwriter say at a symposium that the listeners want to know what's coming next and they want to be surprised. Do the song lyrically in the order they expect but give them a different musical arrangement.
  2. You need to lead the audience through the show. A good leader is confident, and has authority and charisma. That allows the audience to relax and enjoy the show.

  3. Remember what makes your live show different from listening to a recording: the audience can see you. Find a way to make your songs look different.
    It might mean using stage lights and changing the colored spots. It might mean moving around with the other members of your band. You might have a stool and sit for an intimate living room feel, then stand for a more exciting number.
  4. Put themes and your personality into a show. A unique show will set you apart.That will help you make that emotional connection.

"If you’re a singer/songwriter, you may have a good voice, but it’s not necessarily about your voice. It’s about your personality coming out in songs, and being able to tell the stories to set up the song. " — Tom Jackson

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