Sooner or later most singers want to come out of the lessons and practice sessions to try out their talents in front of an audience. The first performance may only be to family and friends, at a party, karaoke night or other low key event but for those who seek a professional or working career as a vocalist, the ability to capture and hold an audience should be part of the ever ongoing training process.
Many of the aspects of performance a singer requires are included in private lessons, workshops and classes provided by singing teachers, voice coaches, performance coaches and choreographers, some of which can be learnt by observing professional singers. How to pace a set, how to showcase all members of the group, how to develop a personal artistic identity, how to command attention and stand out from the crowd are just a few of the many performance techniques that a singer requires if they wish to make an impact.
Although these skills are difficult, if not impossible to cover here, there are some pointers that we can provide to help you to explore and improve your performance technique.
Set aside time for practice sessions that concentrate on integrating voice and movement.
Use a mirror to observe yourself when trying new movements or choreographing dance routines. If possible video record your sessions for later review to gain a better understanding of the audiences perception of your performance.
Leave a tape recorder running during a vocal and movement rehearsal for later review. This aids the singer in identifying potential problems that can occur with vocal control when using movement.
'Movement' covers a wide range of possibilities not just a full blown dance routine! A good performer appears to 'fill the stage', that doesn't mean they have to use complicated dance routines or have a powerful voice, many singers captivate their audience by using movements and facial expressions that are natural extensions of their personality and voice, these draw the audience in to focus on the performer. Some singers have stage personalities that are 'larger than life', many pop acts use dance routines whilst rockers convey energy through body movement and the occassional bounce around the stage.
Other performance techniques include the use of audience participation, which covers everything from working amongst the audience to encouraging the listener to sing along, dramatic acting, microphone techniques, building and arranging a set list of suitable material, improvisation and interpretation.
It is important to gain experience at performing in front of a real audience, no matter how much you practice in your bedroom or in a rehearsal studio, it will never reflect the reality of being on stage. This can cause a variety of reactions in the newcomer ranging from mild performance anxiety, forgetting the melody or lyrics, singing out of tune or time to overpowering stage fright, depending on the character of the individual.
Although an entertainer may practice many ways of presenting themselves in rehearsal, their true stage personality is rarely found until they relax and just do it live, which is where a friend with a camcorder is an asset!
When reviewing a recording of a live performance the main aims are to analyse what works, (and what doesn't!) then work on adjusting and honing your performance during lessons and practice sessions. Everyone has different abilities and may find some things easier to learn than others, the key to presenting a good performance is practice, experience, perserverance and a willingness to learn ;-)