Canadian Musician - May/June 2017 - Page 32

VOCALS Micah Barnes is a singer, songwriter, and vocal and performance coach. He travels between Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles on a regular basis to work with clients and also offers private sessions online. His Singers Playground workshops, which he is coaching across Canada while on tour with his latest chart-topping CD, New York Stories, have helped thousands of artists deepen their skill sets as performers on both sides of the border. By Micah Barnes Talking Onstage (Or, Help! I Don’t Know What to Say!) A fter all the practice we do to pre- pare the music, most of us are caught in a terrible bind when we hit the stage and suddenly have to talk to the audience between songs. As good as our musical performance may be, if our stagecraft doesn’t include preparation for the conversation with the audience, we have left a huge part of our performance up to chance. That usually leads to feeling awk- ward, saying stupid things we didn’t mean, long wandering intros that kill the vibe, etc. The worst is, “This next song is called ‘Blan- kety Blank.’ I hope you like it!” Although that’s where most of us go, it’s so cliché and in no way allows the audience to feel engaged or interested. My first piece of advice is don’t leave the banter to chance.  You Are the Party Host This is your opportunity to let us into your world and tell us who you are as a person and as an artist. If you think of yourself as hosting your show the way you might host a party, it will help you make some decisions around what you choose to talk about. Imagine yourself hosting an informal eve- ning at your residence, greeting your guests at the door. What you say and your manner of speaking lets them know what to expect for the evening. If you take their coats, ask what they would like to drink, and offer a short tour, you are preparing them for a very different experience than if you tell them to throw their coats on the bed, grab a drink in the kitchen, and enjoy themselves. Your stage patter is going to let the audience know what kind of a party to expect. 32 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N Bring Them into Your World Everything you say reveals something about you. That’s why we go to see our heroes in concert. We are eager to know more about who they are and what makes them tick, so it’s good to give the audience a window into your world. Yes, they will want to know about your day, or what your reality has been about be- fore stepping on the stage. It will reveal more about who you are and why they might want to listen to your material. Yes, they will want to know how you came to write a song or what you are trying to express and communicate in that piece of music. You are handing them a key to unlock the material when you explain your process. Most importantly, be yourself. Who you really are is always going to be more interest- ing to the world than your idea of what might be entertaining or engaging. My Stage Fright Shuts Me Up Most of us find that our nerves are most evi- dent when we have to speak on stage. The best advice I can give is to make sure you plan out what you want to say so you have a basic road map of where you are going. Writing it out and rehearsing it in advance will give you confidence and provide a place of safety when your mind goes blank. If writing out what you are going to say feels too scripted for you, at least plan what you want to cover in your intros; otherwise, the possibility of talking too long – or not be- ing able to talk at all because of nerves – can happen to the best of us! Do I Need to Be Funny? No, you do not need to be funny, but a lot of us use hu- mour to diffuse our nerves and that can end up being both entertaining for the audience and a release of some pres- sure for us. If humour works for you when you are nervous on a first date or at a party then it can work on stage, too. Being awkward and shy or goofy and ridiculous is human and can work to our ad- vantage when we aren’t feeling confident. The idea is to be as real as possible with your audience within the context of the perfor- mance. They will always be attracted to the truth more than your pretending not to be nervous or scared. Keep Solving the Problem There are some ideas about how to approach talking on stage. Learning to be relaxed and confident as we talk to the audience is a pro- cess and we don’t get good at it all at once. There is no right way to prepare for this, no hard and fast rules. I suggest seeing as many performances as you can while you are working out your stage banter. That will give you a lot of ideas about what works and what doesn’t and suggest new ways of communi- cating that you might not have thou Ё)́ԁ䁑ɕЁɽ̰хє)ݡЁ͕́ѼݽɬѕѼѡ)ԁЁɽѡՑQݥ)ѕԁݡӊéݽɭѡɽ՝ѡȁٕ)ѕѥЁԁɔɔ)ѥٔѼѡȁͻeЁѡЁݡ)չѥ́