When You’re Up There (an excerpt)

I’m sure that volumes have been written on the psychology of performing. My philosophy is this:

It’s about the JOY

We all work hard at perfecting our craft. Lord knows the myriad of things that we vocalists have to shed on: intonation, phrasing, expanding our scat vocabulary, tricky arrangements, eighth note triplets, Cole Porter changes, breath control, arpeggiating intervals and on and on and on. A performance is where our practice hours culminate and bear fruit.

However, at the very heart of it, a performance is not about how “good” you are.

It’s about the simple joy of making music and the thrill of the creative synergy shared between musicians. It’s about telling the stories and connecting with your audience. If you’re worried about how good or bad you are, you’re not only missing out on something really wonderful but you’re also potentially compromising your performance. Why? Because when you judge what you’re doing, you’re removing yourself from the immediacy of the moment. How can you sing well if your mind and ears aren’t really there?  You can certainly be mindful of all the things you’ve been working on, but let go of any notion that you have to be “good.” Just be. In fact, before you step on the bandstand, send your inner critic over to have a drink at the bar. You don’t need her onstage with you.

Audiences are generally willing to be on your side. Your exuberance goes a long way. If you’re having fun, it’s infectious. If you’re feeling good, your audience will be happy. I recently saw a concert with two vocalists on the bill. One was technically flawless and had a pristine and beautiful voice. However, this vocalist was almost surgical in her approach; she was cool and detached. I didn’t feel a connection with her. The other vocalist on the bill was technically pretty messy and had a gruff voice with questionable intonation. However, he came at the music with an undeniable joie de vivre that was mesmerizing. He was playful and didn’t take himself too seriously. He was soulful.  I felt an instantaneous connection and could not get enough of him.


So, step up on that bandstand and sing. Enjoy yourself.

This is what you wanted, right?