By Jaclyn Torrento
Performing your songs can be such a powerful tool in a songwriter's tool belt. Whether it's a writer's round, open mic or backyard jam, having your songs performed live is a key part of this process. As someone who's work in the wedding, event and cover scene for over 5 years, here are three key concepts I've developed over the years on performance.
PERFORMANCE is CONNECTION. I've always felt that way as a listener but truly tapped in the how and why when I started performing. Whether it's making eye contact with someone in the audience, picking out a crowd member to have a fun banter with from the stage or just bringing the crowd into the song, the connection has been and will always be everything to me. You want them to feel connected to what you're doing and saying in your songs. I personally feel more connected and believe it elevates my performance. I call it my "in the zone" feeling.
Over the years I've also developed the philosophy that my performance isn't just my performance but also belongs to the listener. Sounds kind of strange, but not really when you stop to think about it. I think back to Summer 2018 in Indianapolis. I am drenched from the downpour that just occurred. Bon Iver plays some of their iconic songs and at the moment, it wasn't just me going to see my favorite band play. I felt a part of the performance like it was my performance too. There is something very powerful about that and meaningful. As a performer who has had certain degrees of performance anxiety over the years, I have found myself calmer by the thought that my performance doesn't just belong to me, but everyone watching. It's a unifying feeling. For songwriters, I believe most of you probably understand that notion when your words and melody resonate so much with someone, they believe that song was just for this.
Finally, I've learned that you just have to be confident in your voice and know that it doesn't make or break your performance. It's just a part of it. Don't get me wrong. You do need to have an awareness of pitch or you won't be doing your song justice. For the first part of my performing career, I constantly compared myself to others, over time I discovered you don't have to be the very best singer out there to make a performance great. It's how you deliver it! Knowing that I could deliver a song, allowed my confidence in my voice to rise.
I hope these concepts help you as you go into your next round or show. There really are so many elements that go into a great performance. From delivery and setup to the lightning and staging, it all plays a part. When it comes down to the songwriter's performance, it really is all about the song. Tap in to why you wrote that song and what you want people to feel when they listen to it. Deliver that every time and your performance will shine!