Stage Performance Tips for Singers
For singers, stage performance is the element that transforms a musician from being a singer to a potential recording artist. Being able to perform on stage is a skill that all singers should master if they wish to be successful in the music industry. We asked Chris Grayston, Open Mic UK’s head judge, for his tips on how to perform on stage:
Stage performance tips for singers
Get physical on stage!
Moving around on stage is engaging for your audience and your energy is contagious. Ideally, learn the stage where you will be performing and, if you can, take dance lessons. Also, focus on moving in a way that complements your song (tempo, mood and style).
Use the whole space and get close!
Physically moving to the front of the stage also helps to engage and connect with your audience. It doesn’t mean you have to use every inch of the stage, but you don’t want to be anchored to the floor, so make sure you move around.
Express your emotions physically
Your body language gives the audience an idea of how you’re feeling when you’re on stage and conveys the emotion of the song. Becoming comfortable enough to express your emotions on stage can take time but will come with practise.
Let the audience see your eyes
While performing on stage making eye contact with the audience helps them to connect with you, it shows you’re confident and again adds to the interpretation of the song. Standing tall and having good posture not only helps your performance, it makes you look professional.
Look at YouTube videos of artists you are influenced by and watch how they perform on stage. Notice their mannerisms and look at how they convey emotion during their performance.
How and where to gain experience performing on stage
We see lots of singers enter our competitions who haven’t performed on stage before. Get ahead of the competition and perform wherever and whenever you can. Here are four actionable stage performance tips for singers that you can try out today to improve your live show.
Consider busking for experience
Contact your local council and ask where and when it is OK to busk in your town centre. Not every council allows this, but if the opportunity is there then it can be an effective way to build up your confidence.
Start small and work your way up to bigger gigs
Everyone has to start somewhere, but singing live can be daunting at first, consider hiring a venue and putting on a show for your family and friends, once comfortable you can work up to bigger gigs. Starting with smaller venues gives you time to adjust and improve your skills and makes it easier to land larger gigs in the future.
Perform at open mic nights
Look around your local area for pubs/venues that host open mic nights, contact them and find out how to get involved. If you are under 18 let them know as some pubs won’t allow you to perform — though, most will allow it if accompanied by a parent or a guardian. If they hold frequent events, perform as often as possible to build your connections and build valuable performance experience. Networking is a great way of hearing about other live opportunities.
Put on a live show at home
Do a private show at your house for your friends and family. Your friends can often be your biggest critics. This can be nerve wracking but good friends will always back you when you need them to! Ask your friends and family for feedback to help you improve. Remember, this is an intimate gig not a show at the O2, so tailor your performance accordingly.
Film yourself performing
If none of the above are possible, then film yourself performing, watch it back, show friends and family and ask them for areas you could improve. Keep an open mind and focus on those you can trust to be honest — it will help your stage performance skills and confidence in the long run!
Shameless plug ahead. Continue reading below!
How to own the stage for a memorable live performance
Engage with the audience
When performing on stage, interacting with the audience is a must. This can range from simply smiling and giving eye contact to show you’re enjoying yourself, to using your eyes, face and body to reflect the emotions of the song.
Make use of props
During your singing performance, make use of whatever props you have to work with. Choreograph and practise your routine; and if you get the opportunity, in advance, learn the stage so that you can use the space provided effectively. If you have a mic stand, use it during the softer bits and consider taking the mic out when the song gains pace.
Consider bringing dancers on stage
If you are performing a fast-paced song on stage, why not bring some dancers — not only will you create a more enjoyable performance for the audience, it will be a more memorable one. Of course, the performance will only be as good as your worst dancer (so choose them carefully) and ensure you get involved in the routine so plenty of practise is essential! You will also have to consider your fitness if doing large parts of the routine otherwise it will affect your breathing and vocal control.
Make an impression from beginning to the end
Walk confidently on stage and maintain that confidence throughout your performance. It’s easy to tell which performers are nervous when they walk on stage and it often takes a while to fade. The more you perform, the easier this should get.
Talk to the audience during the performance between songs
Talking to the crowd. Announce yourself when you come on stage (if you’ve not already been announced). If you are performing a full set, and you feel it is appropriate for the mood, use any transition period to introduce your next song and, at the end of your set, thank the audience and let them know you’re grateful that you have had the opportunity to perform for them.
Do you frequently perform live? What stage performance tips would you offer to singers who are just starting out? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.