Connect With Your Material

Learning how to “be” the song is your highest calling –says Simone Niles.

I often ask my students this telling question:

If you went to two performances, one where the singer was technically exquisite, but demonstrated little emotion, or the other who didn’t demonstrate great control, but made something move inside them, which would you go back to see?

Ninety percent of the time they choose the performance that moved them.

Of course the ideal would be to have both technical proficiency and be able to emotionally connect to your song and therefore your audience.

However, let’s face it, it is not great technique that drives the fans wild!

Ramping Up Your Connection

Let’s briefly explore how you as a singer can connect to a song and then be courageous enough to share that expression with your audience.

I won’t pretend that this easy to put in place, but if you put these things in order you will reap great benefits in performance.

Whether you are singing a cover or your own song, your interpretation or understanding of the lyrics will help you to communicate a message to your audience.

The key is not to ‘act the part, but to be the part’, so that it is not contrived, but real.

Your Path to Connection

One thing that helps singers to ‘be’ the song is to find a way to relate to the material, either directly, or by telling someone else’s story with conviction.

Whether covers or originals, I often get my students to connect with the message behind the lyrics by reading them the way they would say them to someone before getting them to sing the song.

Last, but certainly not least, be willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are.

Too often we try to fit into what constitutes as a good performance or try to tick all of the right boxes (gestures, eye contact, facial expression etc), which all have their place, but do not lead to expression.

It happens the other way around. We feel, connect and use those performance aspects to communicate our findings.

Be yourself and be okay with sharing that with others!

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Brian Phillips – Changes (Cover)

Brian – great flow, it’s obvious you know this track really well. Your articulation is good; I could look away and still understand every word you sang which is so necessary in this style. I think you may want to explore your intonation a bit more – try not to rap everything on the same tone / pitch. Moving this around makes it more interesting for the listener. You seem very comfortable in your own skin. Good job.

Jody Cooper – Let Go (Cover)

Jody, you have a lovely tone in this part of your range. In the verses your articulation is not very clear and if you shape your vowels more, you will find that your tone cuts through even more. Pay attention to your posture when holding the guitar. Your head is lifted too high and this may cause some restriction. You have demonstrated good use of dynamic and I think you have a great interpretation of this song. I particularly like your percussion on the guitar and use of the pedal. Well done.

Simone Niles is a leading vocal and performance coach and an author on the specialty of performance enhancement. She has a busy private teaching practice in London and also teaches at The Institute of Contemporary Music, where she is MD of the college’s vocal ensemble. Her book “Coaching for Performance Excellence”, gives artists new and innovative ways to achieve performance excellence and is available from her website.
Coaching Artistry
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This article has been especially adapted for VoiceCouncil Magazine from Simone’s book, “Coaching For Performance Excellence”. www.coachingartistry.com