When preparing for any kind of “performance” in life, artists must become something that maybe isn’t who they are completely. There are times that you might not be in the mood to perform; maybe your mind is focused on how that guy cut you off on the way to work, or how you still haven’t planned your kid’s birthday party yet. And, honestly, you’re playing the same song on stage night after night and you still have to have the same enthusiasm that you had 10 years ago when you performed it for the first time… hard right? As performers, we sometimes forget how amazing it can be for someone to hear a song for the first time, or to see an epic movie, or watch their favorite artist. So how can you bring that freshness to your performance night after night and bond with your audience? For ease of writing, I’ll focus on performing from a musician’s standpoint as that’s what I know and it’s one of the best examples from my past. After the story, we’ll focus in on some of the more important aspects that can be kept in mind to transform your future performances.The connections that we make with our audience is equally as important as the art we are… Click To Tweet
Bond with your audience
When I was growing up, I was very lucky to get a job at Dixie Stampede in The Great Smoky Mountains. I worked in the saloon serving drinks …non-alcoholic unfortunately… and everyday for about 3 years I also got to witness the pre-show which featured incredible musicians like Gary “Biscuit” Davis, Gary Mackey, Ben Brogden, Rex Gibson (look them up)… and from time to time our very own Jordan Woods-Robinson, and even my buddy Andy Wood on occasion. What always amazed me, outside of all the great playing, was that when you would see these guys on stage they genuinely looked like they were having the time of their lives. Smiling, joking, laughing, waving, and pouring their hearts into every performance. The first time I witnessed the show, I received a huge high of pure excitement and happiness; it was infectious… and I’m glad to say that even after seeing it for years I would always get the same high over and over no matter what my mood was or how my day had gone. Now, if Jordan or any of the other guys had climbed on stage and let anything that might have been bothering them show other than “I’m completely ready and excited, and this is going to be the greatest show of your life,” would it have been as good a show? I doubt it. Every member of that band showed up and left any issues of the day in the dressing room and went out with one thing on their mind: this is going to be the best show and we’re taking all these people on a journey with us. It was a great unspoken lesson to be taught and, as you would probably guess, a great show to watch.
Take your performance to the next level
There are several ways you can get into the right mental state to go out and put on the best show you can, usually it only takes a couple moments to focus and get in the right zone. Turn it into a game, a movie, a show, a challenge to yourself to show the world what you got. With every performance, no matter how big or small, you are constantly influencing people around you, showing them how amazing music, art, and life can be. It’s an amazing gift that artists give to the world. As simple as it is to read all this on paper, there are actually several things you can do, with a little work and effort, to help yourself prepare and help get you closer to that world-class-performer status. Let’s make a list …who doesn’t love a list… simple, powerful, awesome:
- Homework – Know your music, and I mean know it inside and out, backwards if you’re so inclined. The less you have to think about the next note or chord on stage the more you can focus on creating a fun, effortlessly amazing performance.
- Be the Boss – What’s one of the easiest things you can do to take control of a situation and pull people into your world? Eye contact and smiling. Imagine this: you lock eyes with a stranger, nothing is said, you smile… and what happens 99% of the time? They smile back and instantly there is an ease and good vibe in the air.
- Be Humble – Don’t forget who makes it possible for these performances to happen. If your fans want you to sing the same song 10 times in a row, I think we owe it to them to give them 100% every single time.
- Family – And don’t forget who’s working that stage with you every night. A great relationship with your band mates always creates a vibe on stage that is easily felt furing any performance. Even if you’re a solo act, there are always people behind the scenes that are constantly helping you in any way they can.
- Escape – When you’re performing, that’s your chance to escape from your thoughts and troubles for at least a moment, so why not make the most of that moment and take everyone with you? You can help them to escape the world, also. Sometimes, if we can disconnect from our troubles even for a moment, it can feel like all the weight and burden has been lifted, and gives us a fresh perspective on the day. It can also remind us that things aren’t so bad… pretty powerful, huh…
- Play Games – I’ve also heard of a great technique recently that my good friend Andy Wood (currently with Rascal Flatts… awesome) likes to think of his performances as a video game. Every performance is a level/game/boss and he’s going to beat it and come away with the high score. I can safely say that if you’ve ever seen Andy perform on stage he is always trying to take over the world. Great presence and charisma out the wazoo! So turn it into a game… see how many people you can get to wave at you during a performance, or count how many trucker caps are in the audience. Create a scoring system and try to beat it every performance. If you’re having fun, even in your own head, then the audience will feed off that energy and they’ll have fun also… even if they aren’t in on the game.
Try to implement some of these ideas into your next performance. The connections that we make with our audience is equally as important as the art we are showing them. By creating on-stage bonds with our fans, we can effortlessly create lifelong supporters that believe in our cause and what we are trying to create. This is something that each of us must continue to practice in order for it to become natural, but once we start focusing in on these simple steps and try some of the techniques suggested, the whole picture starts to take shape and becomes second nature.
Grow a Supportive Community
The last point I would like to make is about surrounding yourself with enthusiastic people. As an example, anytime I have the chance to talk about music I think my enthusiasm flows out full tilt …I tend to get a little excited I guess… but I always hope that I can help push, influence, and inspire others to continue to pursue, refine, and further grow their art. Having a community of like-minded artists and supporters here at SOSstudio has been a great outlet for my continued learning and growing. Always having a strong support group is essential to finding not only the next step… but the right step. So come by and talk to us, we’re always up for talking about music…or life….or a good movie….or food……..
Till next time SOSer’s (Is that a word???? It is now.)
– Cory –