Becoming a Total Performer




Having a great voice with perfect vocal technique is wonderful, but most audiences don’t pay to hear perfect vocal technique. They come to a performance or buy a song because they want to feel something- they want to be moved.  The ability to move an audience is what distinguishes an artist from someone with a great voice who, though they may sing technically well, is not yet an artist.


Artistry is the ability to always be absolutely in the moment, believing every word you are singing, with absolute control of a voice that responds readily to every emotion.  How do you help your student reach that level of commitment to the words of the song every time they perform?  You need to help them personalize the song, to make them feel that the lyrics are coming from their heart. Even if they did not write the song, they should be able to sing it as if every thought actually came from their own heart and soul. Singing is not just making beautiful tones and coming in on time.

A great singer is also a convincing actor!  Often, singers who have spent years developing their vocal technique tend to ignore this equally important component.  Countless times in lessons, I ask singers to tell me what they mean when they are singing a certain phrase, and they either don’t know, or they “3rd person” it- “She is sad because…….”    Uh- she?  YOU are singing the song!   You have to take another person’s words and convincingly make them your own, if you want an audience to be moved by your performance.  Unless you can use your body, face, and gestures believably, your beautiful voice will not move the audience.

Singers must learn to act convincingly, and that requires a complete commitment to the text.  An artist must give a completely original and fresh interpretation to the song. Copying an extablished artist’s choices is a good first step, but a singer must add their own textures and colors. Your singers’ interpretation must be unique to them, and different from the original.  Change vocal improvisations, change subtext and meaning, change gestures. Don’t let them be a copy-cat– help them make your their song unique.   Here’s how:



The first step is to separate the lyrics from the music and be able to convincingly  and emotionally act the text without the help of the music,just like speaking lines in a play.  Once your singer can do that, you can add the music again, but your student will hopefully have a deepened awareness of the emotional content they are singing about. The music won’t do all the work- believable acting is required to “sell the song”.

1. Writing prep: Yes preparation includes writing!  Get a notebook, and print lyrics out double spaced. They will be writing in the spaces of the music, and answering questions in their notebook.  Have them read through the lyrics several times, and answer these questions in their notebook about the lyric:

Who?  What? When?  Where?  Why  and How?   If you don’t know the answers to these questions your lack of preparation and connection will show up in your eyes and on your face, and the audience, while they may not know why, will not be moved.  Being totally involved with the story you have created may mean the difference between polite golf claps at the end of your song and a rip-roaring standing ovation.

Stay tuned for further installments on this subject from Tricia!

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