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Full Version: Go For Broke
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I will start the first thread here. For me, performance means performing in front of others, and mostly I mean a live audience 1 to 1,000, to 10,000.

Performing in front of people requires a different approach than practice, training, or even recording. When performing, you DO NOT stop. Stopping is death. Even if you get a weak or pitchy note, do not stop. You keep going.

It's been said that if you have stagefright, to imagine the audience in their underwear. That might have worked for some and the idea was to make you laugh and feel a little better that you are wearing more than underwear.

But stagefright is not dissuaded by imaging the audience at a disadvantage, socially. Stagefright is all about you. What will they think of you? How you look? How you sound? The real challenge is to get around all those things. And it means you have to quit centering your attention on yourself. Audiences, believe it or not, are not waiting for you to fail. By that, I mean audiences in general. I realize there are some singers who grew in families where it was assumed you could not sing and singing for your family was just another chance for "failure." Fortunately, I did not have that experience.

Everyone in my family sang and no one ever told me I could not sing. And, at times, I was applauded. On the other hand, there was the unspoken assumption that I would not be making a career in music. Not because I was bad at music but because it was not a "real job." Better to be an engineer. So, I received books on electrical and electronic theory, experimental physics, stuff like that.

I would, as a kid, try to dance ballet. And it was seen as cute. And here's another book on solid state theory behind transistors. And the latest edition of the Amateur Radio Handbook. I learned Morse Code without ever having been a Navy pilot.

Sure, there times when I was a little unsure of myself and everyone has that. But mostly, if I knew the song backward and forward, I had no problems singing it in front of whomever. Warts and all.

The largest chunk of my work was to arrange how I would play guitar and sing at the same time. it's a matter of coordination and shifting of concentration.

But, anyway, stagefright will decrease when you get over yourself. Quit worrying about what others think of you. Think of the song and what it means to you, so that the audience can hear and feel what the song means to them.

It also decreases the better you get at your craft. For some, stagefright is fear of failure. So, decrease the chance of failure by developing your craft. Rehearse the song until you know it better than your own name.

No big secret. Just keep doing what you do and do it as often as you can for as many people as you can.
How should move? Most times I have played for others, it was in a cramped space where I had room for me and a guitar and being busy with both singing and playing, not a lot of movement.

But other times, just on the mic, I do move but I never worried if it was cool, or not. To me, the song came first and whatever I do is to serve the song. I remember back in the early 90's, when I was going on auditions based on posted ads in music stores, I went to see this one guy. And before we could even work on a song, he wanted to know what my stage presence was like. I had no answer.

He had been going to Dallas Art Institute, where they teach you the business of music production, among other things. He was more worried about looks and presentation than even the song, first. I had better reception when auditioning for bands that had actually played somewhere besides a living room. Because I had that kind of energy. Music was not a thing of analysis for me, it was a feel.

I am not saying that paying attention to business is bad or not paying attention to how you come across to the listener. But I know it comes from the inside out, not the other way around. You are a good singer because you are a good singer, not because you are pretty or move well. If looking pretty and having refined moves were the key, Mick Jagger would be broke. And yes, I said that in my out loud voice.

So, what is it that you guys see or feel when you are singing for others?
I watch the outtakes and "worst auditions" from AI, X Factor, AGT, BGT. Trying to analyze where person goes wrong. Is there something I can avoid by watching the failures of others? Is there something I can learn from the ones who pass?

Even if we discount the people who were good singers but were rejected because the show is scripted and canned, there are some truly awful auditions.

First off, the audition you see on camera is not the first. They have already been seen by some producers. An average two auditions before they get in front of the camera. The reason for passing them to the camera audition is to create drama and comedy for the "judges" to riff on. For the judges are also "performing." They are paid to play a role and as we have seen, their pronouncements do not exactly predict results for contestants after the contest is over.

Many singers sing way to far forward in the nose. There is nasalence, which all singers use, then there is hypernasality, where you can almost see the nostril hair flapping in the breeze.

Plenty are singing in genres for which their voice is not a natural fit. Or think they have to dance while singing which is wrong because breathing for dancing and breathing for singing are totally opposed and yes, all of your stars who sing while dancing are lip-synching, even the great MJ.

Or they have to wear some wild outfit when they are better off wearing jeans and t-shirt, like Simon Cowell does.

The biggest mistake the bad singers make is thinking that this show is there to develope their voice. It is not. It is to see how many people will like your singing. Because Simon is holding the reigns to a multi-million dollar recording contract. It is a business and he nor any other business can afford to waste money on a complete train wreck from the start.

Also, by the time these people have come to audition, they have already seen previous seasons and know what is expected and you know that they know they do not have that sound. So, they are just here for cannon fodder in the "oh my god, that was horrendous" comedy mill.

Others are trying to make their voice sound like the recorded version which is destined for failure. You cannot make your voice acoustically sound like compressor, eq, autotune, and reverb.

And some sing all loud, all the way through, no dynamic adjustment, like a truck horn that is stuck on and won't stop until you pull off one of the battery cables.

And so, outside of some deficit of singing, bad singers approach this as if you create a star singer by doing certain moves and wearing certain clothes, like they did an analysis. This is like thinking that Nike shoes make you fit. They don't. Pro athletes who are fit by means of their career may wear Nikes but it is the physical activity that makes them fit, not the shoes. Same with singing.

So, I cut Simon some slack because this is a professional venture and if he can scare you off, that creates more time for the talented people that really need the exposure. And if his comments cause you to work at and come back and do better, then you have achieved the benefit. Otherwise, his advice is spot-on. Singing is not for you and you need to go and find what you are good at doing and then do that, whatever it is.

Look at most bands. Most every person in the band can sing but only one is the "lead singer." And he is not always the highest singer. In Foo Fighters, most of the songs are song by Dave Grohl. But when they cover a Led Zep song which needs a higher and lighter timbre, Dave gets on the drums and drummer Taylor Hawkins takes the mic.

If I had to boil it down it is this. Most singing failures come from the person having a disconnect in perception. Their imagination has one image of what they look and sound like and the reality is quite different. They will get better when they more fully appreciate the reality of their appearance and sound, sound being more important.

It also helps to remember that these voice talent shows are looking for r&b singers, not rock or country singers. Look at all the winners. The majority are going to sing stuff like that of Shawn Mendes or Justin Bieber. Nothing against those guys but that is what these shows are looking for. If that sound and style is not for you, you are wasting your time and you will not change the producer's mind. And why that genre?

Sales. Those songs sell several times platinum and this is about making money.

That is why I could not make it on one of these shows. I am not an r&b singer. Not my style or timbre, at least that I know of. I could be wrong. Michael Bolton put out seven rock albums, thought of himself as a hard rock singer. The albums crashed. The seven tours tanked hard. He was working on ablum number 8 after about 15 years in the biz and his producer talked him into recording one of his well-received live performance covers, "Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding. So, he made an album heavy on the soul and motown music. Bam! Sales through the roof and sold out tours. An "overnight success" because he chose a genre his voice finally fit into. He was still singing like a "rock singer" but to a soul beat.

So, the first step for a singer is to find what his voice does and learn to accept that and work with it and that is totally mental and all the scales and study programs and magic secret techniques and expensive lessons mean nothing until you do that.