June 2020 Exercises


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NSAI will be closed on Friday July 3 in observance of Independence Day. Have a good holiday weekend!

Practicing for your Performance

“Performing is a profound experience, at least for me. It's not as if I sit down and play 'Fire and Rain' by myself, just to hear it again. But to offer it up... the energy that it somehow summons live takes me right back, and I do get a reconnection to the emotions.” - James Taylor


We're all itching to get back to it, to sit down in a cozy music joint, and enjoy the sounds of writers together in the round. We'll get back there soon! Until then, you can be honing your performance skills right from home and the minute you get back on the stage, you're ready! Whether you are a songwriter setting up to play your very first writers’ round or a singer/songwriter playing an industry showcase, you are never too-seasoned to not give the time and attention that is needed to practicing for your performance.

The way you engage your audience, sing your songs, and tell your stories can make or break the connection the crowd feels about the most important thing . . . YOUR SONGS! Sure you can get up on the stage with your fellow songwriters, sing your songs well, and have a solid night, but by honing in on your performance skills you can make sure that you command and captivate your audience, make a lasting impact, and grow your following.

Here a few exercises you can do at home to make sure you are ready the next you hit the stage (in-person and virtually!)


1. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. . .” - Practicing in front of the mirror is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Vocally, you can make sure you are singing with the correct posture, breath support, diction, etc. Using this exercise to rehearse will also allow you to check on your facial expressions and body movements. 

2. Record, then Reflect -  Tired of looking at yourself in the mirror? That’s ok! Set up any type of video/audio recording device, and RECORD yourself from start to finish. If you mess up, keep going. The goal is to not stop. When you are going through your set, make sure you are including your set up to your songs. Anything you are planning to say during your round should be recorded. Afterwards, playback your recording and watch with the mindset of your crowd. Take some time to REFLECT and answer some of these questions.

  1. Overall, how did I feel about the performance?
  2. Does my song order flow?
  3. Was the set up for my songs engaging? Do I need to shorten or lengthen any of them?
  4. How was my singing? Was I pitchy or out of breath in certain parts of my songs?
  5. Does it sound natural?
  6. Did I feel connected (in the moment) with each song?

Overall, it’s the song that’s the star, but you are the messenger! You have the power to create real moments in your performance with your songs that bring your crowd in and make the want to hear more and more. By recording yourself, you can find where you can create those moments!

3. Peer Review - Sometimes it’s better to have an outside opinion! Know someone who is great on-stage? Ask a songwriter or any performer who you respect to critique your performances. Ask for real, constructive feedback, and consider their suggestions thoughtfully as you continue to develop your performance skills. Someone who really believes in you will help you succeed!