In this Episode I offer a reframe of the concept of “Performance”.
It’s a powerful tool that can assist you immediately whether your performances are on Broadway, in a recording studio or concert, or simply alone at home.
If for some reason you don’t think this is for you, you may want to consider that those thoughts may be coming from your programming and conditioning…and listen any way with an open mind.
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 13 – Transcripts
Giving a Great Performance – a BIG tip!
Hey there. Thanks for listening. This is Mike Goodrich with the Inner Singer Podcast, episode number 13. I thought it was about time we talked about something that is really important to singers, especially most of the people that listen to this. And that is performing. So we’ve got the inner singer and how it affects performing.
So let’s talk about performing because the way I look at this is singing is really a three-point thing. It’s like a triangle. It includes vocal technique.
And I’m not putting any particular one of these first or this isn’t really mentioned in order of importance because they are all really, really important.
The first that I’ll mention is technique obviously. Vocal technique is very important because it’s the facility to express ourselves. If we don’t have a technique, so that we have a strong, clear and flexible instrument that can sing high and low and loud and soft and get all the notes, it’s like when you buy a keyboard, you get a full keyboard that’s tuned, 88 keys are all ready to go. We want our voice to be like that obviously. We’re talking a little bit about an ideal world, but let’s just use that for a second. So we have a vocal technique and it is ready to go. That’s number one.
But again, not a priority, it’s just number one of the three.
Number two is the performance aspect of it. “How do I communicate this song with an audience? What is my understanding of this material? What is my understanding of myself and my ability to experience myself through this material? How comfortable am I onstage with people staring at me?” and everything else that goes in the performance (which we’re going to talk about in just a couple of minutes). So that’s number two.
Number three is the inner singer, what we’ve been dealing with primarily in these podcasts. That is what goes on behind the scenes. What are your beliefs? What’s your programming and wiring, your patterns? What’s running you basically? So what is creating your voice? What is creating your comfort level onstage, your ability to communicate and have a conversation through the song?
So you’ve got the three things. You’ve got the singing technique, the vocal performance and you’ve got the inner singer. They’re all hugely important because we have all either experienced or seen somebody having an experience of one without the other two or two without the one.
You can imagine, you get somebody up there with pretty good vocal technique, but they are a terrible performer. They’re really uncomfortable onstage. It’s not that much fun to watch. You get somebody who’s a really good performer, but sings badly, it’s not that much fun either. No matter how confident they are, it’s not that much fun to watch. And you get somebody who has a great voice and is a great performer, but has no confidence and keep sabotaging themselves because their inner singer is not supporting them. That’s no fun for the artist and that leaks into the performance.
So if all these three things aren’t working synergistically, it’s really, really tough to reach our vocal potential and our performance potential. And of course the inner singer is the unsung hero. That’s the one who gets all the blame and none of the credit.
So it’s really our inner singer that brings all of these things together. It’s like the glue that holds everything together.
But today, I want to focus a little bit on performance. I know generally most of the people that are in my audience, most of the people that are listening to this show probably perform in some regard. If you don’t, that’s no big deal because quite frankly, even singing in your room by yourself ups the ante if the stakes are a little bit higher than not singing at all. So that could be considered a performance.
And everything I’m going to say in this particular podcast applies to you as well even if you are not out there physically in the world performing. If you are, I’m going to offer this as a suggestion. And obviously it’s going to follow because I’ve said nothing that I can offer as a suggestion yet. But what follows is what I want to ask you to try on.
Okay, let’s talk about performance. I’m creating a course. I’m in the process of creating a couple of courses actually. One is the Inner Singer (big surprise) and one is Authentic Performance for Singers because they really go together like we’ve just talked about. There’s a tremendous amount of crossover in what I do with the Inner Singer and what I do when I teach a performance class.
So let’s look at the performance class. Let’s call is Authentic Performance for Singers and let’s look at performing and everything that has to do with that.
First of all, I want you to think of the word perform, performance, performing and I want you to think for a second this sentence. “I have to perform tonight.” Just sit with that for a second even if you don’t have to perform tonight (as probably many of you don’t). Just play with that for a second. Get yourself into the mental state and the feeling of, in your imagination, “I have to perform tonight.” Just feel what that feels like, “I have to perform tonight.” Feel that for a second.
Now if you’re like me (and most people that I try this little exercise on), perform/performing/performance is a very, very loaded word. It comes with a tremendous amount of conditions generally.
When I think of performing, what do I think of? I think, “I have to perform tonight. What’s the first thing I think of?”
Well, I really have to know the song cold. I have to know it incredibly well backwards and forwards. I got to make sure I know all of the lyrics. Melodically, it has to be really, really locked in and it has to be in my voice. It has to be worked into the voice.
I have to be really warmed up. I have to know exactly what I’m going to do. I have to have worked on what’s going on in the song. I have to have a really good understanding of what the song is about and how it relates to my life, how I’m going to tell the story, who I’m having this conversation with.
Gosh! I’ve got to make sure I drink lots of water, I get plenty of exercise, I get warmed up. And gosh, I don’t know how to be perfect. There’s no room for error. Standing up and singing the song and performing it in front of people, there’s no room for error.
Look at all the stuff that I have to know. Wow! My pitches have to be great. My vibrato has to be on. I have to get that high note. That phrase, I have to remember these words. I have to be moving. I have to be with the accompanist. This is almost overwhelming, the amount of stuff that I have to do.
Now, you may think I’m exaggerating a little bit, but there is a lot that can potentially go through people’s minds. And I might have left out some stuff you guys were thinking of.
Now, I want you to put the word performance aside for a second and I want you to think of this word, experience. I want you to say this sentence to yourself. “I am going to have an experience singing this song tonight. I am going to have an experience singing this song tonight.”
Now if you’re anything like me (and some of the others that I’ve played with this on), what comes up for me when I say, “I am going to have experience singing this song tonight,” if I sit with that for a second, it’s much more neutral.
And it is not that I can’t make things come up and it is not that I don’t have thoughts, but the word ‘experience’ to me – and we’ve all had experiences, great experiences, some not so great experiences. But the word experience isn’t so loaded. It doesn’t come with conditions that have to be met. To have an experience, no conditions have to be met. The only condition that has to be met for me to have an experience singing the song tonight is that I sing the song.
But with a performance, I have a whole laundry list of conditions to meet. “I have to be pitch-perfect. Vibrato has to be on. My voice has to be solid. I have to be really, really ready to go. I can’t forget any of the lyrics. I have to get all these high notes. All these great things have to happen to me for me to give a quality performance up to my standard.”
Look at that versus “I am going to have an experience singing this song tonight.” To me, that is so much more relaxed, so much more relaxing.
Now, (this goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway), I’m assuming that we are all really professional about this or that we are aspiring in some way to be a professional or if all we ever want to be is an amateur, we are treating it in a professional way. So I, by no means, mean to replace the word performance with experience and then not memorize your song, not know who you’re singing about or to, not know the lyrics, not have worked it into your voice. I’m assuming that everybody who’s listening to this is to the caliber that those things don’t even need to be mentioned, but I mentioned them anyway.
Let me put myself in the seat here. I’m not going to say, “Okay. Wow! I’m just going to have an experience singing this song.” So I am now absolved of having to learn it very well, having to practice it or work it into the voice or anything. Of course, that would be ludicrous. That’s silly.
I’m just saying you do your due diligence and you put in all the time. You work on the song, you work it into your voice, you work on the character, you work on what you’re singing technically and all the things that have to do with communicating the song plus the inner singer aspect of it. So you do all of that. I’m just saying that having done all of that, replace the word performance and reframe this whole experience into an experience.
I’m not saying don’t do the work. I’m saying do the work, but reframe what you’re doing from performance (which has a tremendous amount of conditions that have to be met for it to be good) with experience (which basically has no conditions and is very neutral and open-ended. It gives room for tremendous expansion and all kinds of wonderful things to happen that are not included in the construct and the conditions of a performance). Does that make sense?
So my suggestion would be have fun with this. Use this.
And let me say one more thing. If, all of a sudden, you come up with this little bit of resistance, let’s say, you say, “That’s all well and good, Mike if I am going to be out singing karaoke or if I am just going to be singing for fun. But I’ve got a serious gig. I’m singing on Broadway” or “I’ve got a big recording session” or “I’ve got something really important. I’m singing at somebody’s wedding” or whatever, whatever in your mind is tremendously important, “I can’t do that. I have to be on. I have to perform. I have to really make a great showing. I have a responsibility.”
Well, I’m just going to say that that resistance, if you are having any of those thoughts, is totally okay, totally cool, but that resistance is part of the wiring of the inner singer that is trying to keep you trapped in a world, a singing world filled with conditions and hurdles and things that you have to overcome and conditions and criteria that you have to meet to be at a certain standard. Do you see what I mean?
So if you have any of that coming up saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good for people that are just singing here, there or wherever, but I’ve got important stuff to do. I can’t be treating this like an experience. Mike, what do you think?”, then I am saying, “If you’re having that kind of resistance, the resistance is part of what is keeping you trapped.”
So my suggestion would be to recognize the resistance, be real gentle and kind with yourself about the resistance and say, “Maybe I’ll try this on. Maybe I’ll try it on my imagination and just feel what it feels like.
“Okay, I’ve got a big Broadway show… I’m singing at an award show… I’m making a big recording… I’m doing whatever,” it is, in your mind hugely important. I’m certainly not diminishing it. Those things are really important, part of your career. My gosh! They’re highlights, high points in the process, right? But what if they can be really, really fun? And what if you don’t have to perform? But what if you can just have a fantastic experience?
What if you don’t have to meet performance criteria or conditions for it to be a wonderful experience? What if you can just leave that part out and have an experience and open to an incredibly fun positive outcome of an experience without even outlining the conditions that have to be met for that to be the case?
It’s just an idea. But you begin to see how all of this works together – the technique, the authentic performance and the inner singer.
And I say authentic performance not because I’m crazy about using the word performance. Any time I talk about performance in any talk that I give, any course that I teach, I always immediately reframe it to experience. But just so people will know what I am talking about or going to be talking about, you have to use the word performance.
But it’s a terribly loaded word. It’s like the word God, very loaded. It’s whatever you think God is. And whatever you think performance is is what’s going to come up when you say, “I have to give a performance” or when you think, “I have to perform.”
So it has nothing to do with the performance. It’s the conditions and constructs that come up based on what your inner singer thinks a performance is or a good performance is. And this idea of an experience may be a little bit more neutral than that, so it can be a really wonderful way to reframe this performance opportunities into experiences.
Anyway, that’s all I’ll say about that. I hope that that works for you. I hope you try that out. I hope it resonates with you. Thank you so much for listening and I look forward to doing this again and seeing you or having you hear me next week.
I always look forward to hearing from you guys anytime you have any suggestions, comments, critiques, anything, ideas for shows, anything like that. I’m completely open to it. So I’d love to hear from you.
Anyway, thank you so much. Have a terrific day. Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.
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