In this series, “Singing on Stage”, I go over 6 invaluable elements to showmanship and how they work to comprise a great show. I’ll also offer tips along with each ~
Singing with a band
You can’t feel better, as a singer, than when you sing with a good band, orchestra or accompaniment. It’s like being a surfer and riding a wave… For surfers, I’ve been told that the feeling of movement is awesome, even if you are only going 15 or 20 mph, because this vast force is behind you. This powerful, driving force is propelling you across the water! I feel like it’s the same when I sing… when the band and back up vocals create a beautiful bed for me to lie my vocals over! I fell lucky, blessed and in all ways exhilarated to be a part of that!
Fronting a band
When you sing with a band, there’s a complex web of harmony and rhythm being woven behind you. It’s a rush. And you have to be aware that for them, it’s a rush also, when you top off the sound with a well executed vocal.
It’s your responsibility to match their energy, or sometimes to drive it! I go over this in Part 1, but you have a lot going on that you have to be aware of, so hopefully you’ve rehearsed the hell out of your part and you can devote the attention to what your band is doing now! Because if you are off in your own world, it’ll show. And though the audience may not have the exact words for it, they will know there is something “off” or “wrong”. Because as good as we may ever get at performing, there will always be people in the audience who are better at what they are doing… watching you. Enjoying music. Watching live bands! So you better have earned their approval, and the approval of the band you front!
Since I covered a lot of performance stuff in Part 1, Singing on Stage, I’ll write about avoiding common pitfalls. The most glaring pitfall of live bands is how people handle mistakes. So I’ll start there and spend most of my time talking about this today.
Trust your band! Don’t think that you making a mistake will wreck a song. Don’t think that hitting a bad note ruins the night. Mistakes are only what you make of them.
Ever play with someone, or see someone in another band, who makes a mistake and then gets all dramatic about it? They roll their eyes, shake there head, tighten their jaw and close their eyes… This is disgusting to me. Sorry, but it’s ridiculous. I think musicians do this in an attempt to let the audience know that they are better than the mistake they’ve made, that they hold themselves to a high standard and that the mistake did not live up to that standard. That they are disappointed in themselves. Wow! Really? Because I know that’s the message I came to get… you know, the message about disappointment and disgust! lol
In reality these musicians, these “drama queens”, are just spilling poison and self importance all over the stage. Making everyone uncomfortable and ruining the magic, the illusion and escape that live music provides us with.
TRUE ENTERTAINERS DON’T FUSS OVER MISTAKES
In fact, they relish them. Mistakes part of the ride! They are a dangerous curve on an exiting race track when your tires slip a little but you get control back just in time. Mistakes are a loop in the roller coaster ride. They are funny and something to laugh about with your band mates! And you can bet that the ugly responses the drama queen makes at a show are something they also do at rehearsal. And even while they are practicing alone. They have been practicing looking upset about mistakes, that’s why they perform it.
If you catch someone at rehearsal pointing out mistakes in a negative way, or reacting poorly when they make a mistake, or when someone else does, CRUSH THE BEHAVIOR! Don’t let it slide. Show them this blog, or point out that their reaction is 10 times as upsetting as the mistake. Tell them that it reflects badly on the entire band when they act that way on stage. Tell them that audience members hate it! And if they say they aren’t worried about what the audience thinks, fire them or leave the band. They are poison and they are toxic to your persona, your career and your fulfillment while doing what you love. Don’t accept them or their behavior:)
Remember ~ You are creating a show, a moment and an escape for yourself, your band mates and your audience. Make that your focus and you’ll react appropriately when mistakes happen. There’s no doubt that you are all talented! One mistake won’t derail your reputations, but a poorly placed tantrum can.
Started the song too quick or too slow?
Well, by all means don’t look at that as irreversible. You aren’t stuck with the rushed tempo, or a slower tempo… just fix it, right away, as soon as you realize it! Make eye contact with the drummer and they’ll know what to do:)
Get feedback from a monitor?
No worries, avoid the spot that created the feedback and move on:) Your sound man should be able to tweek volumes and frequencies to help.
Remember to give everyone their solos!!!
End the songs tightly. If your ending falls apart or is sloppy, that’s what the audience will remember. Have a cue, I hold up a fist on the last pass so the whole band knows it’s the end. Don’t assume everyone is on the ball, maybe someone is preoccupied untangling a chord, turning a page, spilling water, etc… So be responsible and give the sign. It also tells the audience that you guys are tight. Rehearsed!
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