She works with stars and those who want to be stars – Juliet Russell shares a path to increased performance charisma.
Charisma or star quality is hard to define, but easy to spot. If it was a magical equation it might look something like this:
Confidence + Mastery + Energy + Individuality + Emotional connection = STAR QUALITY
Every element in the above equation can be developed by you. Let’s explore how:
You’ve heard of the phrase “Fake it, ’til you make it ?”. It works. There are lots of tricks that can help you.
Here’s one: Strike a pose – Did you know that even standing in an expansive posture (feet apart, standing straight, wide arm gestures) can boost testosterone levels, which in turn triggers feelings of confidence?
Try it out. It works! Ian Robertson explores this in his book The Winner Effect. It’s fascinating stuff.
You may not start out as a master, but excellence is worth aiming for.
While natural talent goes a long way, there is a lot you can do to capitalize on your raw material.
At the heart of mastery is the very unglamorous concept of putting the hours in.
Malcolm Gladwell argues that we need 10,000 hours of practice (rehearsal and experience) before we achieve expertise or mastery.
Based on 10 hours a week, that would take most people over 19 years to achieve.
That would seem to give those performers who started young – such as Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake – a huge advantage, but is this the whole story?
Fortunately, there is a big link between practice and enjoyment.
When you perform, what you give out is usually what you get back.
Sometimes you need to work hard to get an audience’s attention, particularly when you are up and coming.
By upping your energy levels, you become more noticeable and attract the attention of the crowd. Here’s one energy idea:
Increase your intake of oxygen and heart rate by doing a small amount of physical exercise before you go on stage.
I like to do a few star jumps or dance along to a favorite club track to release some nervous energy and to feel lively before performing.
Don’t use your first song to get in the zone, be ready to blow the audience away as soon as you hit the stage.
It is really important that you get to know what you uniquely have to offer as a person and as a performer.
Feeling comfortable with who you are and learning to AMPLIFY this on stage can make the difference between a singer and artist.
Here’s one idea:
Do you have a trademark way that you dress?
If I asked you to describe how a rock singer dresses, how a Hip Hop artist styles it out or how a folk band’s wardrobe looks, chances are you’d be able to tell me pretty accurately.
We have preconceptions about how to dress for specific genres and it’s great to have fun with this in a way that works for you.
YOUR EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Inhabit the songs that you sing. When Beyoncé sings “Listen” it sounds like her own experience. We don’t need to know whether it is autobiographical or not, the point is that she is believable.
She sings like the experience is hers. In other words she inhabits the song. She lives within its reality during her performance.
Working with the lyrics in your body is one way to achieve this.
Essentially the lyrics are like an actor’s text. They contain all of the information that we need to know.
Song lyrics are often close to poetry in that lines and images are open to interpretation.
This is exciting. It means that you can give a song a unique slant or honour a tradition or reclaim something that has been misunderstood.
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Curtis Jarvis - Stay With Me (Cover)
Curtis, this is a very professional video and performance. Congratulations. Stay With Me is a difficult cover to “own”, but I felt you really did this. You sound like yourself without sacrificing any of the emotional quality of the song. You have a lovely sound, very contemporary and memorable. Your physical performance was good too – great eye contact and you really engage the audience visually. I am impressed. There are a few things to look out for one lyrical and two technical. There are a couple of lyric changes at the start, but I’m not sure if this is deliberate? Just check these. The thing I would work on is your jaw position and possible jaw tension. It tends to move forward and down instead of back slightly and down especially in the chorus when you’re bringing a bit more power. The other thing (me being picky) is to ensure that the breathy notes at the end of each line are a choice and not a habit. Stylistically, they work well in this performance, but consider altering some of the endings so you sustain some notes and shorten others. Just change it up a bit. Great job over all though. I’m impressed.
Why I chose Curtis Jarvis as a Finalist
As much as everyone did a great job, for me Curtis’ performance has the edge, both in terms of vocal and physical performance. He has given a very credible and very professional performance so he is my choice as a finalist for the VoiceCouncil Singing Competition.
Juliet Russell has coached Grammy award winners and X-Factor finalists and is a vocal coach on BBC1’s The Voice. She has performed and collaborated with Damon Albarn, Imogen Heap, Paloma Faith, Ringo Starr and is in demand as a coach, singer, vocal arranger and choral director. www.julietrussell.com
In spring 2015, Juliet be touring her forthcoming album, Earth Meets Sky, throughout the UK, collaborating with choirs to create a unique performance in each city.
Juliet’s vocal exercise CD, Love Your Voice, will be available late in 2014.