Performance Workshop Review

Independent Music Academy Performance Workshop

Performance Workshop: Stage presence and beating nerves

Emma and I (Lauren Crick) had the pleasure of running a Performance Workshop in November. The workshop was divided into four different aspects of performance. Nerves, stage presence, microphone technique then followed by a performance masterclass. 

Performance Nerves

Participants learn about stage fright and how nerves can affect performance. We discussed ways to deal with anxiety and how to embrace adrenalin.
 

Stage Presence

We also discussed what audiences look for in a great performance. The importance of stage presence to the overall production was explained. Participants also discovered ways to build their individual stage persona. They learnt how to feel comfortable on stage. They also learnt how to move freely and master great stage presence. 
Independent Music Academy Performance Workshop

Performance Workshop: microphone technique

 

Microphone Technique

Microphone technique was the next area of focus. All participants had the opportunity to set up and start using a microphone. For some, this was their first time using a microphone. For others, it was a great way to explore proper microphone technique. It also provided the opportunity to better their sound and performance experience.
 

Performance Masterclass

The afternoon finally concluded with a Performance Masterclass. All participants were given the opportunity to jump up on stage to perform. They received constructive feedback from both myself and Emma. All participants did a wonderful job of taking advice on board. Therefore they were comfortable enough to workshop many areas of their performance. All participants were incredibly supportive. It was a great environment to improve performance techniques learnt throughout the day.
 
The Performance Workshop received extremely positive. Participants have asked for regular performance workshops, masterclasses and additional workshops!
If you’d like to express interest in future workshops email admin@independentmusic.com.au
Written by Lauren Crick

Sustainable Voice part 2

Hello again everyone, just to recap, this is part two of the question…

Q. I sing in a band and I find that at the end of a gig I’ve got
no voice left and if I have to do two or three gigs in a row I’m really
in the shit. We’re touring soon and I’m worried.

A. We broke the answer down into four sections…

1. Be particular.

2. Be a diva.

3. Get equipped.

4. Learn.

Now that we can be particular, let’s…

2. Be a diva.

It’s easy for singers to get a bad rap, because sometimes you
need to be fussy and demanding. Your voice needs to be protected or you
can’t sustain a tour, or sometimes even a whole gig. Protecting your
voice can require behaviour that may be irritating for those around
you.

You have to fight for foldback onstage. Amongst all the
musicians on stage, your foldback requirements are critical. Guitarists
can turn up their amps, drummers can hit harder and while it may
fatigue (and potentially injure them), they can’t do the same damage to
themselves in 30 minutes that you can do in 30 seconds if you can’t
hear yourself properly. Try to be nice about it, but fight tooth and
nail for your foldback.

Smoke machines and air conditioning dry out your voice and are
your enemy. You might ask (politely) to have them turned off. Try using
a humidifier in hotel rooms and dressing rooms where the aircon has to
stay on.

If the people around you really care about the band and how you
present to the public, having audible vocals on stage, being a bit hot
in the car and not having the smoke machine on are pretty small
sacrifices to make for a great sounding show.

3. Get equipped.

Having your own quality microphone is very important.

Everyone else in the band pays a fortune for their gear, so
shelling out for a decent mic so you sound fantastic seems fair if
you’re going to be such a diva.

Go into music stores and try different mics. Compare handling
noise and choose one best suited to your voice (they’re all different).
Prices start at $400.

Consider wireless to allow yourself the freedom to really move.

Try in ear monitoring. It can dramatically improve control and
minimise damage, simply because you’ll hear yourself properly (maybe
for the first time ever).

4. Learn.

Bite the bullet and try singing lessons. You won’t lose your
unique voice. A good teacher coaches technique, which you integrate
into your existing sound.

Your teacher can help you sing with your whole body and access individual muscle groups for effect (like distortion).

Be patient and prepared to work because if you want to use
distortion night after night you must have a good technique
(sustainable) mixed with a tiny bit of relaxed and carefully monitored
“bad technique” (for rock).

Finally, the best thing to help sustain your voice onstage is to relax and enjoy yourself… (God forbid!).

Sustainable Voice part 1

This was the first of a series of columns that we wrote for Rave, a local Brisbane music magazine. There is a bit of repetition with some of the other entries in our blog, but I thought that it was worth including.

As this is our first column and we don’t have any real questions
yet, let’s pretend that a singer has asked me how to maintain their
vocal health…

Q. I sing in a band and and I find that at the end of a gig
I’ve got no voice left and if I have to do two or three gigs in a row
I’m really in the shit. We’re touring soon and I’m worried.

A. You are the singer. You are the primary focus at the front
of the rock behemoth. The reputation of your band can live or die
relative to your performance. You must be good and you must be
consistent. My number one recommendation (unsurprisingly) is to find a
good singing teacher… but here’s some stuff to consider….

We’ll break this down into four sections.

1. Be particular.

2. Be a diva.

3. Get equipped.

4. Learn.

1. Be particular.

Remember, singing is very serious stuff. Live or die stuff for your band…

Your body is your instrument.

So… eat well. Lots of wholemeal stuff and greens. No chilli
(sigh), no dairy and check that you are aware of any allergies that you
may have – maybe you feel like crap all the time because you can’t eat
wheat (or whatever).

Drink well. Lots of room temperature water (no ice – your voice
hates it). No diuretics (drinks that dry you out – think coffee, soft
drink, alcohol – even fruit juice can be suspect – water all the way).

Drugs are horrendous for your body and pot is the worst for
your voice – you can’t cool it and it rips the crap out of your voice –
you’re not Bob Marley either, so don’t use him as an excuse.

Get fit. If you can’t run for about forty minutes without
getting puffed, you’re not ready to really front the band. Mick Jagger
and Steven Tylers fitness is an embarrassment to everyone under the age
of 50. I also heartily recommend Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gung as great
voice sports.

Don’t talk over ambient noise (touring vans, loud music etc).
This is really tiring for your voice. Send the rest of the band out to
talk to punters after the gig if you’re touring, or minimise your
involvement (difficult for Indie bands I know, but you’re the singer –
you’re particular and a diva – it’s in your job description).

Get plenty of sleep! Your voice and body must have time to recuperate (tough on tour but it’s sleep or sing…).

And finally, do some simple, relaxing vocal exercises so that you know where your
voice is at before you hit the stage, warming down is also a good idea.

Next month I’ll give you some diva instruction, help you spend
money at your local music store (just like a guitarist) and point you
in some learning directions.

2 Secret Truths About Singers

2 secret truths about Singers….

Secret number 1 – a lot of Singers have no idea what they’re doing.

There. I’ve said it. Speaking as a Singer myself, I can quite confidently say that we can be a pretty ignorant bunch.

Guitarists can talk for hours about modes, amplifiers and the relative merits of two seemingly identical brands of guitar string but if you ask a Singer about their craft – their instrument, tone production, equipment choice, practice regimes… well they might have a vocal exercise or two they picked up from a friend who “had a couple of lessons with this old lady who made him sing Andrew Lloyd Weber songs” and they will probably sing happily through whatever evil smelling microphone they are given at the gig… and that’s it.

It’s quite an extraordinary situation that we’re so ignorant, because onstage, Singers are the most important member of the band. We are the focus for all the energy (positive or otherwise) of the seething masses.

If we get a sore throat, the gig can be canceled, if we decide to croak our way through the set anyway (or worse, blow out on the third song), people demand their money back.

The audience copes if they don’t hear a Guitar solo all night, but they won’t listen to 45 minutes of instrumentals.

It’s a dangerous feeling having a Singer out the front who isn’t sure that their voice is going to make it through the show….

But Singers who are having trouble with making it through gigs or who can’t hit the notes they want aren’t alone. It’s practically an epidemic.

The cure is embarrassingly simple.
Treat your voice like an instrument. If you’re a Singer, get some lessons. If you’re an Instrumentalist, force your Singer to get some lessons, and if they won’t… have some lessons yourself (Singers hate that!).

If you can’t get lessons, look for help with the technical aspects of singing wherever you can. This can include YouTube, blogs and forums online and there are also some good books, CDs and DVDs available.

A good hint for what to look for in lessons (whether in person or on video etc) is to look for teachers who stress posture, breath, relaxation and sensation.

Posture is important as it takes stress off singing muscles, improves resonance and makes it easier to breathe.

Breath is important as that’s what makes your voice work! Breath is also the secret to getting high notes…

Relaxation is important as relaxed muscles are powerful muscles and relaxed singing is sustainable (gig after gig after gig).

And Sensation is how we learn to sing – we can’t see our instrument so we have to feel it instead.

Secret number 2 – Singers aren’t born (no matter what they say on Idol…) they are made, and anyone can be a Singer.

As always, if you have any questions, email us on help@independentmusic.com.au or head over to our contact page to organise a free, no obligation introductory lesson.