What is the key to delivering your best, most masterful performance?
What every potential performer learns very fast about performing is that 100% in a room usually means 80% on stage…if you’re lucky. Another analogy (given by a colleague singer) is that in a high-stress situation you will perform about 6 months behind in where you actually are in your development. Which of course matters a great deal when you are only starting in this profession.
Aside from a few tips on how to manage stress here are a few more things you could find useful.
Know Thy material
Whatever the piece you are performing is and no matter how long it is, make sure you know it well. Memorise the music and the words. Check your pronunciation, and the meaning of every word separately and as a whole.
Make sure you are familiar with the language of the composer you’re singing
It’s easy enough nowadays to go to youtube and find many recordings of an enormous variety of composers and performers. While I do not recommend to young singers to immediately go and find THE exact piece they are singing I would suggest listening to great recordings of other works by the same composer to better understand the style.
Audience is your friend
Remember: the audience is NOT all knowing. The average person listening to you can not tell the difference between your 100% and 70% performance simply because they do not have the knowledge or ears to do so. They will most probably be able to tell if you give a really bad performance but in general, they come because they love the music and they want to enjoy it. Of course, this doesn’t really count for auditioning panels but even they are not “out for blood”: they want you to succeed because then their job of finding a right person for the role/concert/spot in the school or competition is finished. So since the audience is not something to be wary of:
Love your audience
Singing is a performing art. That means you do NEED an audience to truly make it work. Making music is communication of something deep and spiritual from within you and when given the opportunity for communicating that use it and love every minute of it. Make sure when given this opportunity you make the most of it by having something to say. Most of the time strangers around us couldn’t care less about our emotions and most heartfelt, honest, spiritual parts of ourselves but in those moments while performing your audience is witnessing all of it and willing to appreciate and love you for it all. Yes, it’s a bit scary at first but it is also the best feeling in the world.
Don’t get stuck in your head
Make sure you’re thinking slowly enough to experience everything. If you’re not aware of little details happening around you, that means you are not focused, you are in your head and if you’re just in your head (and not “in your body”) mistakes happen. Noticing things around you doesn’t mean you focus on them instead of on your own singing; it means you are open and aware of them all. You are in what some call active zero. Peaceful and collected and ready to spring into action. This too comes with practice and experience and will get easier with time.
As usual, like with most things in life, there’s no real shortcut. No matter the number of tricks you can learn, I strongly believe that without a solid base you will not be able to go far. However, tricks are there to help us make that technique shine and ultimately serve its only purpose: a means to make music.
Do you have any suggestion you’d like to make? Please let us know in the comments below!