Becoming A Total Performer, Part 3

Becoming A Total Performer, Part 3 – by
Tricia Grey
May 20, 2019
Continuing to workshop the song into an artistic piece
Speak the lyric: Now, look again at your lyrics.  What do those words make you feel as you
read them?  Take your sheet music and write in the emotions that you associate with each phrase (not what you think the songwriter meant) above that phrase. You, as the artist, might choose a different interpretation of the song than a prior artist has chosen- that is your artistic right!   Speak the lyric as if you are acting onstage in a play.  Pretend you are saying the words to a real person.  Are you convincing?  Speak the text with conviction.  Don’t use the same timing and phrasing the music requires- speak it like you are having a conversation with a real person.  Only when you can do this convincingly, and you are aware of the emotional subtext of each and every phrase, can you then sing the song, maintaining the emotional intensity.  Although difficult, taking the music away for awhile and focusing entirely on the text, separate from the music, forces you to be very clear about the lyric itself, and forces you to figure out how to convey the emotion of the lyric without the music to help you.

Try it agin, but this time you will speak each phrase into a mirror, trying several different
emotional interpretations of the phrase.  Though you might feel silly doing this, looking in a mirror tells you what you look like to the audience.  Use it!  Then video yourself doing this exercise, review, and analyze.

Know your objective:  Always begin with an objective.   The objective may change throughout the course of the song.  For each phrase of the song, write in the objective of that phrase:  I want to……. (convince, win, seduce, reject, lie to, hurt, etc).  Then raise the stakes: make up a story that prevents you from getting what you want.  In other words, heighten the emotion- make it harder to succeed, and make yourself want it more.   Now you have to be even more convincing

Add Subtext:  Try this: have the student speak the following phrase, using four completely
different interpretations:
“I love you”  (thrilled)
“I love you”  (pleading)
“I love you”  (sarcastic)
“I love you”  (hopeless)
How did each of those emotional subtexts change the facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language?
Now try it with four completely different emotional interpretations as subtext- in fact use the OPPOSITE emotion.   If you were thrilled the first time, this time be hopeless. Play it the alternate way, just as convincingly as you did the first way.   Make your alternate interpretation just as convincing as your first interpretation.
Now have them and then make up a melody to the phrase (or you can give them a simple
melody).  Sing it just a convincingly as they spoke it.

SUBTEXT  SONG EXERCISE: (This exercise was presented at an IVTOM conference by
MaryAnn Kehler. I totally stole it, but wanted to give credit where credit is due!)
Now, as they sing the song, you, the teacher, are going to call out these subtext colors. The
singer must immediately transition convincingly to each new emotiwhile singing the
song.  Don’t let them stop singing!  Some of these options fit with the original interpretation of the song, and others do not.  Their job is to convincingly meld the words they are singing with the new emotional color.
While they are singing, give them these subtexts:
1.   Scared to death
2.   Excited
3.   Confused
4.   Pensive
5.   Devastated
6.   Heartbroken
7.   Thinking about the best joke you ever heard
8.   Confident
9.   Arrogant
10. Joyful
11.  Hopeful
12. Determined
13.  Hateful
14.  Indifferent
15.  Nauseous
16.  Sneaky
17.  Repentant
18. Betrayed

This is really valuable work!  Your students’ body, face, gestures and emotions all have to be fine-tuned and believable if they want to be a singer who can move an audience.
A way to convince them is this:  How many singers can you name who have transitioned to
movie roles? (Queen Latifah, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera to name just a few).   Do you think the added exposure helped their singing careers?  Of course it did!  But they all had one thing in common- they are not only good singers, but they are good actors too.

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