Developing a simple checklist can transform the performance of each of your songs – says Peter Bach of Basix.
Have you ever been to a music workshop that didn’t “deliver”?
If so, you’re not alone.
I was about to give a vocal workshop when I was told by the organizers that their singers had a history of not really getting enough from vocal workshops and master classes they participated in.
The organizer said, “During the workshop we’ve often felt inspired, but since many presenters use specific songs to exemplify their methods, you often forget the key points after a month or two.”
She wanted real, usable, lasting tools instead of specific pointers for specific songs.
I loved the challenge and immediately I began mapping out some easy-to- comprehend tools for every choir, vocal group or soloist to use.
A Checklist that Works Every Time
I’ve come to believe in 6 easy checklist tools that you can apply to every song you sing:
I now love to work with singers on a list of questions and tasks for each one of these areas – and it applies to any song that they sing.
Today, let’s look at the first of these: focus.
Where Do You Want Your Audience to Focus?
Here are some questions you might work through as you consider performing a specific song:
Where do I want the audience to look:
• At the lead singer?
• At the whole group/band/choir?
• At different people at different places in the song?
• How do I channel the audience’s attention to where I want them to look?
• In terms of my own “gaze”, will I be looking at the audience, the group, the “horizon” or (if I am not the lead singer), the lead singer?
Come up with your own answers to these questions and you will find that it changes your performance.
The End of the Story
Half a year after the workshop I asked the organizer how the singers were doing.
She told me that these transferable tools had made a lasting impact; they had become a natural and integrated part of her group’s work.
I’m glad she was critical with me before the workshop!
Now, I recommend that every “workshop buyer” demand more than just masterclass-song-specific workshops.
Peter’s Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Sean Hemstedt – “3am” by Matchbox 20 (Cover)
Sean – thank you for reminding me of this great song. I love that you made you version so different than the original. In Basix we put a cover song through the “Basix-filter”: get the essential part of the song and then enhance that. What you have done here is that you’ve enhanced the “melancholy” aspect of the song. I have no comments to you voice and how you use it – it’s very personal and very tastefully done. That you have made the video with changing camera angles makes it much more interesting to listen to.
Giselle – “My Immortal” by Evanescence (Cover)
Giselle, What I like the most is that you show how much a difference it makes to do 3 simultaneous video recordings. Really like it. Maybe I’m not the right audience for this kind of video, but I don’t really understand what I’m supposed to do with it. I like your voice and you surely know how to use it, but the sound of it is quite close to the voice on the original recording. Everything is actually so close to the original recording that I’d rather hear Evanesence. So, I need a definite reason for listening to your version.
Josh – “In Excile” by Thrice (Cover)
Josh, I think that your version has the same intensity as the original and that’s really something you should be proud of. I like your voice and the way you “produce” your sound. The vocal effects are suitable, but work with selecting them for special places in the song. Right now it’s like their “turned on” all the time. You have a restless quality that I really like. It gives me the feeling that the song is very important to you – then it get’s important for me. There is though a possibility that it will end up giving you a “stressed” feeling, so make sure that you keep an eye on that.
Christian Jansson – “Everlong” by Foo Fighters (Cover)
Christian, this is my favorite song by Foo Fighters – and it’s also my favorite in Guitar Hero on my PlayStation:-)
You displayed great authenticity – it’s obvious that you really like the song and want to give it to me (as the listener).
A few comments about the recording. When I decide to do a lead on song, I spend a lot of time after the recording to make sure that I am proud of my performance – no matter what others may say or think of it. Some words might not be perfectly pronounced, and some notes might be slightly out of tune. But I have to be proud of it – and if I can’t – then I have to change it. The reason I’m saying this is that I listened to some of the other songs that you have uploaded and there was a huge difference between the songs. The song by Kent in you native language had a totally other vibe to it. There I felt like you were “playing on your home ground” and the total output of the song was much better. In that song you also show how good a singer you are and how good a voice you have. It is a question about taste, but make sure that everything you upload has a quality that you can be proud of. And if you are – then I’m an ignorant fool!
Victoria Burrough – “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan (Cover)
Victoria Burrough, Victoria – damn, you have a nice voice! I really like the softness and the effortlessness that you put into your performance. Again, I have to talk about taste and that is, as you know, really an individual matter. When I do a lead in a song, I can choose rhythmically to pull the song forward, to be part of the band or to pull the song backward. And here comes my taste. You have a very strong tendency to be quite late in your rhythmic phrasing. This gives me a feeling of laziness and also a “please-feel-sorry-for-me”-ness that I’m not sure is the intention of the song. But – it’s a question of taste :-)
Michael Simmons – “Eight Days a Week” by The Beatles (Cover)
Michael – you really took me down memory lane. Not because I’m old enough to have experienced The Beatles live (unfortunately), but because I enjoyed all the very small details. (like Paul McCartney as a lefthand bass player:-) The singing is very authentic with all the small mistakes that is also on the original recordings. It must really have been fun to do. I really like the ‘immediacy’ in the way you sing and the way you scream out those top notes is just right.
With a grand total of 7 international CARA awards, including “Best European Album” and “Best Holiday Album” the Danish vocal pop group Basix have proven themselves to be among the very best of a cappella groups worldwide.
Follow the group on www.basix.dk or Facebook