10 Stage Performance Tips for Upcoming Singers by Laura Etemah

As a vocal coach, I have come across singers of a wide variety and mix of genres who are superstars in their own rights. A good percentage of them have star quality voices that will make you wonder why they are not trending already in the music industry.

Having worked with a number of singers, I have come to understand that having a great voice is just a tip of the iceberg when you narrow things down to the set of skills a singer needs to hone.

This immediately draws my attention to a question I normally ask singers. If the guitarist works with a guitar; what does the vocalist work with? And a quick answer usually follows, “The voice!”

Every student of mine already knows that a singer’s instrument is much more than just the voice. The voice is only a third part of the full package. Singers need two other components apart form the voice – the mind and soul.

To find out more about this concept, take a look at my first ebook, Overcoming Your Singing Challenges.

Back to the set of skills a singer needs in order to nail a performance, apart from a great voice is the ability to own the stage and keep your audience glued to you throughout your performance. You gotta have the spice!

Adequate rehearsals and a daring confidence are also key to a successful performance. Most of all, you need to get comfortable in your own skin and really balance up yourself body, soul and spirit while on stage.

You don’t want to get on stage scrambled by nerves. You want to take care of those shivers immediately you sound the first line of your song.

The following tips should help any voice worker achieve the performance success they have always looked forward to:

1. Rehearse on the Stage You Intend to Use for Performance.

This is a very important step to take as it will show your audience how organized you are. Having you entire team to stage the show will help you plan your movements better and you will be perceived as a good stage manager. Besides, you will know where each gadget is placed and where each team member is situated on the stage map – thus, avoiding accidents.

2. Diligent Practice.

I have witnessed singers mumble words of their own songs while performing live. This can be a great put off. You want to ensure you study your songs inside out. Over-prepare if you can. You’d be better off for it.

3. See Venue and Stage Space Before Perfomance.

You don’t want holy surprises while in the middle of a performance, so it is advisable to visit the show venue well ahead of time and see the setup. Check to see where props and gadgets around the stage are placed because you don’t want to trip while doing a dance move.

4. Take Some Timeout to Relax.

Ask the organizers for a space, a quiet room where you can relax, meditate and visualize your performance as you would want It to go. Do not underestimate the power of you mind and inner vision. You become what you think about. So take some time out to see it all come through successfully in your mind’s eye while you calm yourself down. You can also take a light meal, practice deep breathing and go through your vocal warmups at this time.

5. Establish a Connection with Your Audience.

I have had a lot of artist tell me that they were too shy to look at the faces of their listeners. Of what use is it if people have honoured your invitation to watch you perform and you ignore them? Yes, that is what it is – ignore. Performing and looking away from your listeners is as good as ignoring them.

You don’t want to do this. So before hand, learn to look at people straight in the eye while you talk to them. This should help you build the confidence you need to look at your audience while you perform.

Always remember that your audience is the the central focus of all you do while you perform. Smile a lot at them and invite them up stage to dance where necessary. If you connect well with them, you will get a great appreciation at the end of your performance.

6. Ride on the Positive Vibes in the Atmosphere.

Every venue and audience carry a certain vibe – it could either be a positive or negative one. If you are settled within, you will pick this vibration when you mount the stage. It will make you happy or otherwise. Whatever happens, choose the positive vibes and work with them. Search for a smiling face, happy face or interested face and concentrate on it. Feed off that energy until you stabilize. This point is very essential because you will not always meet a friendly audience. But you will find one or two persons who will send you positive energy.

7. Be Prepared for the Unexpected.
Have a backup for your gear in case anything goes wrong. Having a string go off your guitar while you perform can be embarrassing. You want to have an extra guitar to prevent stories that touch. In other words be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

8. Work with a Performance Expert.

This is an area most singers give little or no attention to. It’s ok to want to do everything yourself, so long as it all goes well. But seek a helping hand in areas where you think you may be weak. It is one thing to have a very good voice but another, to know how to move your body along and manage your stage space. I usually advise singers to work with a vocal coach, dance instructor, performance expert or talent manager to bring out the best in their shows.

Remember, if your audience like your show, they will buy the tickets of your next show.

9. Respect Your Co-workers

The success of a staged performance lies in the hands of a co-operative team and not just the singer. If something goes wrong in one department, every other department is affected because they are all interconnected. Hence, you want to treat everyone with respect while on stage. Avoid being bossy like most lead singers do. Don’t stare rudely at a singer who sings off key; same way you should not frown at the audio man because your microphone isn’t working. The audience is always watching and sensing everything going on up stage. You don’t want to put them off in any way so be nice to your crew members.

More So, don’t back your audience for any reason except for choreography. Also play to the video camera once in a while to connect with audiences who may be watching from across the globe.

10. Be Original

In all, stand for what you believe in – your talent and your abilities. Keep to your plan and express yourself sincerely. Singing is a vulnerable art and it is very easy for your listeners to tell if you believe in yourself. 

Don’t change your plan to fit your audience. The confidence you exhude has such a profound effect on your listeners so you want to ensure you are keeping things real. This way you will leave your audience wanting more. 

Stage Performance can be quite difficult and extremely demanding, requiring a great deal of emotional and physical investment to each song. Same way, it can be a highly rewarding experience as can be seen from the audience applause at the end of the show, justifying all the hardwork.


More Information
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Any questions? What tip did you like most in this article? Write it in the comment section.

Author: Laura Etemah

Laura Etemah is a Nigeria/ UK trained an award-winning and full-time Musician, Music Teacher, Author, Vocal Coach and the Director of Lee Vocal Studios and Lee Ellie Music School. As the music woman who loves children and a highly sought-after Music Teacher for children, Laura is also a strong advocate for the music education of the Nigerian child. More so, she has a passion for helping speakers, singers, musical artistes and aspiring vocalists of all styles and abilities, develop the full potential of their voices. The birth of Lee Vocal Studios came through as a result of this. Laura is also an expert in organizing fun and engaging music workshops for children in singing, piano, guitar, violin and recorder. Her multi-instrument playing skills has paved way for her in the music teaching business, making her a force to reckon with in the industry. Laura uses the Nigerian, British and American curriculum in disseminating her music lectures and this is the reason why she is the most patronized music teacher in Nigeria and across West Africa. Laura also teaches music to adults up to the age of 70! Proving to all that anyone can learn music so long as the interest, time and energy are there. The benefits of music are awesome and adults can rewire their brains for higher achievements and rejuvenate the abilities of the brain by taking music lessons. In 2006, Laura won the the Star Quest Music Reality TV Show, with her band – Daccord; and went on a tour with Tu Baba, Tony Tetuilla, P-Square, The Natives and a host of other Nigerian music stars to the UK to perform at the MOBO awards. Her band, Daccord also went for a 10-city tour with a host of Nigerian music stars (Star Trek, 2006) and performed alongside Akon and LL Cool J at the Star Mega Jam, 2006. In 2011, Laura was awarded by the ex-Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for her successful NYSC music community projects carried out to benefit the secondary school students of the Surulere Community, in Lagos State, Nigeria. One of the projects included the audio and video recording of the popular song – Good People of Nigeria, which is mostly played on the 1st of October to commemorate the independence of Nigeria. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EOIdwOVtrc Watch the video documentary of my NYSC projects here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SncYCkyAOqg Laura is also well known for her bestselling book, Sing Like a Superstar, which has helped many singers, artistes, choristers, musicians, producers and choir directors to discover the true potential of their voices. The book is also accompanied by a downloadable voice training CD that has proved to build the voices of thousands of singers. In 2011, Laura became the first African woman to obtain a Master of Arts in Music Production from Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom. She also holds a first degree in Geology from Delta State University, Abraka –Nigeria; and a number of diplomas in music. Laura has worked in several recording studios, taught and is still teaching music privately and in many nursery, primary and secondary schools. Laura is also very much in the business of training groups of singers and choristers. Laura is currently based in Lagos-Nigeria, teaching music production, instrument and singing classes.

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