So someone offers you a chance to get out there, show the world what you can do and perform. ‘Great, how exciting!’ is often the initial thought and hopefully that stays with us for a while because it can often be followed by ‘s**t, I better be ready’ or ‘can I really do this?’. If this happens to you, don’t worry, we’re here to get your sorted out. Even if you’re all confidence and excitement, there’s still a game plan that’s useful to make sure you’re feeling that way when you step out on stage.
Let’s get over the obvious first: know your music and iron out any vocal issues. Make sure you’ve got the details in hand about the venue, sound checks, rehearsals, warm up space, any technical requirements you have (amps, electric supply) etc. Make a list of what you’re going to need and keep a note or photo of what you’re wearing so that when they ask you back, you’ve got a record. Right, these are the basic necessities, now onto the techniques that will help give a performance you’re proud of.
Practice makes perfect, but is your practice perfect?
The way you practice is going to be a big indicator of how well your performance goes. A performance can be a great motivator to get those sleeves rolled up and spend some quality time really exploring your music. If you’re a procrastinator, set yourself up with a schedule and goals and build in some accountability (maybe a partner who will keep you to task). The performance is the goal, work out what you need to do to get all the pieces in place and how that’s going to look. Be specific. If it’s a long gig/performance, build in some stamina with complete run-throughs that mimic the performance.
Recording – how to get the best out of it
Recording yourself can be really useful. I know, it can also be really painful to listen or watch yourself on a video, but it’s a great way to hone your skills. We can all get super critical of ourselves, in ways we wouldn’t even think of if it was someone else we were watching or listening to. I’ve got recordings that I could barely listen to when I did them, and when I hear them now, I’m really impressed by them. If only we could have the benefit of a few years distance between the recordings and listening to them!
Here’s what you can do. Start by making two lists, one for three things you like and the other for three things you’d like to improve. Make sure that when you criticize your recording you treat it as though you were helping someone you know. You want to build them up and give them practical suggestions that will help them to improve their performance. Point out what’s going really well, see if there’s a way to take what’s going well and use it somewhere else in the song. Be sure to keep your lists equal, don’t go all ninja on the things-you’d-like-to-improve list! Reign it in and look for the positives. Like most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Shhh! Silent rehearsals in progress.
So you’ll get together with the musicians you’re performing with to work on the music. You might get one chance to do it on the day or, if you’re lucky, months of prep with a band etc. Whichever predicament you find yourself in there’s some really useful things you can be doing between or before rehearsal(s). Give yourself your best opportunity to do your performance well by rehearsing it silently.
Yep, some of the best rehearsing can be done by going through your performance from beginning to end in your head. Athletes use this when they envision what their performance/race is going to be like in their heads and lots of musicians do the same. You can imagine the repetitive strain injuries you might give yourself if you practiced too much. So go through your performance and imagine the performance you’d really like to give in detail. I find I breath through the song in my mind and feel my throat react to my imagining the way I’m going to sing.
Silent practice is a good rehearsal as it prepares you mentally with practicing focus as well as getting you ready for the onstage action.
Give it a go and contact me with your results!