Contributed by Matt Norden
From writers rounds to festivals and coffeehouse performances, there is always room to grow in your stage presence! Read below for tips to enhance your live show experience - for your musical delivery and the fans.
1. Invest in Performance Gear
Unless you are in Nashville, most bars, restaurants and private parties do not provide performance gear. They rely on performers to provide their own equipment and even operate as the sound engineer. That’s why it is imperative to invest in your own PA system and supplemental equipment like a dynamic microphone, microphone stand, quarter inch cables and mic cables. As performers, you’ll need these for the duration of your career so you’re heard over your screaming fans. Another beneficial product to have is a tablet loaded with a catalogue of songs you may not have memorized (you will need a tablet holder to attach the screen to the mic stand). Always ask ahead of the show what gear the venue provides so you don’t break your back lugging in equipment that you don’t need!
2. Looping Pedal
If you’re looking for a way to add more color and texture to your instrumental accompaniment then a looping pedal might be the way to go. Looping pedals are excellent supplements for voice, guitars, pianos and ukuleles. The function of the pedal is to record a musical phrase and replay it back on a loop. This allows you to build up grooves, add percussive accompaniment and show off some soloing. Additionally, you can add more flavor by singing backup harmonies. The combinations and capabilities of this tool are limitless and opens infinite doors for new creative outlets. If you’re interested in seeing this device masterfully at work, check out live videos of Ed Sheeran.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s no secret that the foundation to being an outstanding performer is practicing. Practice is the backbone of confidence and great performance chops. Your practice space is the best place to experiment with your craft and seek comfort in your abilities. The rule of thumb is it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master anything and music is certainly no exception. This is the time to push yourself and address areas of weakness, not to just reaffirm what you’re already good at. The ultimate goal here is to build up your technique muscle so that when you’re performing, all you are focusing on is performing well and not whether your hands will play the right chord shapes.
4. Purchase a Mixer
Coinciding with purchasing performance gear, a mixer allows you to manipulate the quality of your sound. You can add effects to all instruments, elevate the overall sound output and add that extra edge performers crave to stand out. For example, on vocals you may want to add delay or reverb, effects that make the singing voice sound Godly (if you want to take it a step further you could add a vocal processor with harmonizing effects so you can sing artificial harmonies with yourself). Additionally, you may want to alter the EQ of an instrument if it thrives or perishes in a particular frequency range. Overall, a mixer allows you to balance the sound to be impeccable.
Once the crowd goes home and you’re walking out with your meaty stack of tips, you want to evaluate how your show went. What really resonated with the crowd and what needs to be improved? Were there any songs requested that you didn’t know? Applause and compliments are certainly a great measuring tool for how invested an audience was in your tunes. There are some things we can never see in its full entirety because we are so immersed in the moment; like pro athletes, you should record yourself performing and watch the game tape back to further assess what’s working and what needs improvement. Honest evaluation and openness to adjustments will productively improve your live show.