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Effective Lead Vocals, Part 3 – Achieving An Effective Performance
By Jeannie Deva - 04/15/2009 - 10:21 PM EDT


We can probably all agree that an effective performance is one that engages and emotionally moves the audience. There are many details that go into this achievement. From sufficient vocal technique to easily express and “sell” your song to performance technique, from mic technique to being able to handle yourself comfortably on stage, from working with the sound system and monitors to the art of how to connect with your audience, it is possible to address and develop each aspect to complete confidence.

Here are a few of the details that go into an effective performance.

Technique versus Performance
I'm sure you've heard vocalists who don't have technically developed voices, yet they really command your interest and can inspire you.

While not having the technical proficiency of a Bobby McFerrin or Mariah Carey, performers like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin can still inspire huge audiences. Technique can give you a bigger vocabulary of sound, develop your self-confidence, and avoid vocal blow-out. But what makes one singer great and another, a bore, is the degree of life and communication projected through the song, and the resulting emotional impact on the audience.

Focus on the technical details of singing during your practice time until they become part of your approach. When you're performing, the techniques will be there to support you while you immerse yourself in the music, your message and your audience.

Eye Contact
Eye contact should be based on what is appropriate artistically rather than emotional hang-ups. When singing a particularly moody song, closing your eyes may help convey the emotion best. Don't be afraid to do it if it is appropriate. There are many situations, however, when looking directly at your audience is exactly what's needed to project your emotion. In those cases, doing so will make your performance more powerful.

Let your song interpretation dictate what you do with your eyes. When you're on stage, even if you have to pretend you're looking at adoring fans to help keep you from withdrawing, look with purpose at your audience. If the lights are shining in your eyes, it's difficult to actually make eye contact. But keep in mind, your audience does not have the lights in their eyes. They see you. They don't know you can't see them. You know where they are — look at them anyway! Use of appropriate eye contact can give you greater command of your performance space and opens the channel between you and your audience.

Be Yourself
Deciding what effect you want to create on your audience is the final and most important aspect of performance preparation. This enables you to make each song your own. It may be easier to sing a song glibly or pretend to be someone else, but that robs you of your own personality and you know what, the audience will pick up on it. Only by being yourself and deciding that you are singing those lyrics to each individual in your audience, will you be able to have the impact of a great performance.

What is the Mood?

Through experience, you can learn how to modify your performance and material to fit the performance situation. An intimate coffee house, a Top 40 club, a large stadium, wedding, or your family's living room, all have their own requirements. You obviously wouldn't always sing the same way or even use the same material in each of those situations.

Consider the environment in which you'll be singing. Decide if there is an overall mood you want to create, and what kind of experience you want to give your audience. From there you can select appropriate songs and put them into an order that will paint this mood like the strokes of an artist's brush.

You may be thinking this all seems just a bit too calculated and wouldn't it be better to just go with the flow. Well, it is calculated. If you pre-decide where you’re going with the song, what your interpretation of it is, etc. you use that as your form. Then, within that, you can add spontaneity. This is done to make sure that you are really in the “driver’s seat” navigating the song and its nuances. This way, both you and the audience have a mutually great experience. If you go with the flow, you are abdicating control and who knows how that will end up. All successful artists – especially those that last - control their performances and their careers. 

Jeannie Deva is a world-renown celebrity vocal coach, author, and recording studio vocal coach/producer. Seen on E! Entertainment and TV Guide Stations, Jeannie has been endorsed by producers and engineers of Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Elton John and many others. She is the Originator of The Deva Method®, A Non-Classical Approach for Singers™ and Founder of Jeannie Deva® Voice Studios network now celebrating their 32nd anniversary. There are Deva Method teachers currently on the East and West Coasts of the United States as well as Sydney, Australia. Jeannie coaches singers on technique, repertoire, performance and recording preparation in person in her Los Angeles California studio as well as by Web Cam to singers around the world.
Jeannie Deva’s home study course, “The Contemporary Vocalist” Volumes 1 (a book and 4 CDs) and Volume 2 (4 CDs and an instruction booklet) as well as sher “Vocal Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs” CD can be purchased on Muse’s Muse by going to: “The Songwriter's Store.”  (Use our Quick Navigation drop down menu or click on the link.)

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