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Boost Your Singing Energy

The stage AND the studio can each feed your performance- says Mister Tim

Stage performance and studio performance are different beasts, but you can improve both by applying experiences from the other:

HARNESS EXCITEMENT. A stage performance has an exchange of energy and momentum from performer to audience and back. The performer has real people to communicate to, and the audience can feed the energy level of the performer. In the studio you have to generate energy so your performance does not sound flat. Imagining that you are singing to real people on a stage can add excitement to your sound.

MAKE MISTAKES. In the studio you have lots of chances to get it right and experiment with your delivery, dynamics, and style. On stage you don’t get second chances. Your studio time can be great practice, preparing you for better live performances. Recording can be a process of improvement and refinement, not just recording what you’ve always done. A mistake on an album is forever. Let us praise the bits and bytes of digital technology that allow for such easy do-overs! A mistake on stage is usually not a big deal as long as you don’t make a big deal out of it.

FEEL THE BAND. On stage the sheer volume of the band or backing track can propel your performance. In the studio you don’t always get a big sound from your headphone levels and mix. Take the time to get the mix right so you feel the energy from the backing tracks like you would if there was a live band.

EXPERIMENT. In the studio you can be more nuanced as you experiment with delivery, distance to mic, and other factors to alter your sound and performance. The engineer can experiment with levels, compression settings, effects, and EQ to build a better foundation for a great performance. You might find in the studio that you prefer singing quieter with higher mic gain, or the opposite – or that you like to vary it throughout a song. On stage you can adjust the level of your monitor, or EQ settings, or your mic technique to allow yourself to sing softer or louder as needed, and to add more variety to your vocal delivery.

GET PASSIONATE Singing to an audience is communication, storytelling and expression. A good show takes your fans on a journey. Carry this feeling into the studio. It’s easy to lose your emotional focus as you sing take after take in the pursuit of perfection. Mistakes can probably be tweaked out of a passionate recording, but it is impossible to add passion to a sterile but technically perfect performance.

FIND THE FLOW. A great album has flow and contrast and variety and change and progression. Your set list for live performance should have the same elements. As you think about your album contents, apply the same ideas to your stage performance.

Finally, a quick thought about the modern marriage of studio and stage performance:

DO THE PERFORMANCE VIDEO. Recording for a camera is a strange mix of live and studio singing. You can record a song as many times as you want, but you don’t have a live audience feeding you energy. It might feel strange emoting for a camera, but the more energy you put into a video performance, imagining you are singing for an audience, the more compelling the video will be. I recommend looking at the camera as much as possible because the viewers are watching you, even though you can’t see them when you’re filming!

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Brendon Player – Fine By Me cover

You have great chops, Brendon. Tempo, pitch, rhythm, and overall musicality is stellar. You have a friendly persona that you could build a marketable act around. Your singing voice doesn’t sound like your speaking voice. Speaking voice is a rich, effortless baritone; singing tone sounds a little choked. Your neck looks like you’re straining, singing from the throat. Work to connect your singing voice to your speaking voice, and experiment with the timbre of your voice.

Sarah West – Gold on the Ceiling (cover)

Sarah: strong voice, great command of range, I love it. You have a strong personality; I think you can infuse your character into the song more. Feel free to make the words your own, color them, alter the enunciation and declamation to really make it your own. Also don’t be afraid to use your strengths: you have a big, powerful voice, but also the ability to be soft and subtle. I’d love to hear a little sultry on the low notes, with softer guitar playing, to contrast with the big sound when you go high. Try starting the 3rd chorus smoky and intense while low, and then explode into the higher part… killer!

William Simpkins – I Saw Her Standing There (cover)

High energy and appealing personality. Excellent energy and drive in the playing and singing. It moves, it’s great! A little pitchy on the higher notes. You’re pulling your chin up: resist this impulse, instead lower your chin slightly and pump a ton of air from your diaphragm. It may help to imagine the air and the pitch shooting up your windpipe and out the top of your head.

-Mister Tim

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Mister Tim is a published composer, award-winning recording artist,and in-demand performer, teacher & performance coach. In addition to an active performing and touring schedule with his his solo vocal live-looping/beatbox shows, Mister Tim sings with Boulder, CO-based Celtic Rock band Delilah’s Revenge and 2012 BOSS Loop Station World Championship finalist Vox Machina, manages the… READ MORE

  • Awesome advice here!! I appreciate this information!

  • Hey Mr. Tim… out of curiosity, how do you deal with vocal fatigue and also what do you do if you are sick? I really love your articles and respect your opinion. Thanks!!

  • MisterTim

    Matthew! Excellent questions… that I will answer in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for that article!

  • Sweet!! TY TY!! :)

  • Poppa Madison

    You forget to mention that Personal Physical Fitness and following a sensible diet regime are vital ingredients in one’s life towards being more ideally ready to actually perform the art of singing.

    I know this to be true as I was a former Aerobic Fitness Leader and realise now more than ever that with advancing age that every physical activity, no matter what, becomes much more of a challenge if one allows oneself to become a fast-food-gobbling, candy- licking, cigarette-smoke effusing, couch potato.

    So let’s get into it right now!……..

    “Arms up!, arms down!. Shoulders shrug, up! and down!, knees up!, knees down!, punch left!, punch right!”

    Now then!…..doesn’t that make you all feel much more ready and able to give out a really good belting Yodel?

    Yah see…I told you so!

    © ♯♪♫ ♂PM


    Follow Poppa on Twitter: @Poppa_Madison


    ps. Legal Disclaimer: Do not carry out any of the above physical activity suggested by me, unless you have a Doctor’s clearance as to your medical fitness to so do.