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OK, You Can Sing. But, How Do You Look?

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A performance is a multifaceted creation. Many singers will learn the songs but approach the actual performance (the show) in a haphazard way and just hope that it works. On the pro level, there is much about the actual show that is pre-planned and developed prior to arriving in front of an audience. If you haven't already, take the lead from the pros and learn how to do this yourself.

Focus on Your Performance Objectives Contemplate the effect you want to have on your audience as a result of your songs. What is the mood, emotion and sentiment of each song you plan on performing? Aside from how you vocally sing each song, the visual performance needs to carry the message of the song as well. Does Your Group Work Collectively on Stage? Your energy from the stage to the audience is dependent not only on how well you sing each song vocally, but on how the group works together. The key word here is: Together. You need to look like an ensemble with no one player appearing to be left out. If you are performing with other singers or musicians, include in your practices how you as a group are going to work together on stage, song by song. As a frequent judge of many battle of the bands I've seen this important aspect too often omitted. Choreography can be included, but is not always necessary. However, you can plot out specific movements and staging (whether or not you're playing with other musicians) that would add to the excitement, drama or boldness of the performance of your songs. Here's an example: I began coaching a three-girl group. They had excellent energetic songs and wonderful voices. However, in performance two of them had a tendency to play off each other but rarely interacted with the third. Adding to this separatism, the third performed as though she was on stage by herself. They did not perform as a united ensemble. This reduced the quality of the show and the power of the songs on the audience. You Must Command the Space Twisting or playing with the microphone cord in your hand, hanging onto the mike stand throughout the song, continually putting your hands on your stomach (some misguided singers have been told to do this by teachers to check their support) or any other physical movements or positions that have little or nothing to do with the performance of the song itself are distracting. Your movements, including eye direction, must be deliberate. Don't let your eyes dart around without purpose as you sing. This would make you appear amateur and as though you didn't really mean what you're singing about. Practice singing a song totally engaged in the meaning of it. Make it your communication. Let your movements flow from the feeling and meaning you give each phrase of the song. If you feel self-conscious at first, just keep practicing until you are comfortable being the song and showing it. Remember: A performance works when the details of your visual and audio line up. This alliance is powerful. It makes your song believable and brings it to life. Vocal Shortcomings Will Hold You Back If you have any uncertainties about your voice: about whether or not you'll hit the note or go off pitch, you'll hold yourself back in performance. Some singers sound great but lack vocal stamina and so suffer the punishment of singing for more hours than their improperly prepared vocal muscles can tolerate. This can result in feeling more reserved about really giving it your all for fear of losing it. I have spent most of my life researching how the voice works and how to work with it without compromise. I've looked for and found the most simple, factual and superior techniques that quickly help a singer -- pro or beginner -- to advance and find freedom of expression and find and maintain their own unique vocal identity. This article is an excerpt from Jeannie Deva's downloadable book on Performance Technique for Singers. For these and other vocal tips go to: www.JeannieDeva.com and sign up by clicking Vocal Tips at the bottom of the navigation bar. This essay first published July 31, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.


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