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Singing with an Adrenalized Band

How can you get your band to keep to tempo? Val Emmich explains how.

It happens to many bands – speeding up.

But what’s the cure?

We caught up with noted rocker Val Emmich to ask how he deals with this challenge:

I played a major showcase for Sony/Epic, who eventually signed me, but we were so adrenalized and green that we sped through the song and I actually couldn’t keep up with the singing.

It was really embarrassing. This is an area that really comes with practice.

Just look at sports: a rookie quarterback will remark how incredibly fast the game feels, but as he becomes a veteran the game slows down.

The same is true with music – the more you play, the more confident you become and you’re able to recognize things as they’re happening.

Just think about when you hear a new song for the first time. It seems to go by quickly, because you don’t know what’s coming next. It’s all brand new to you.

But listen to that song 100 times and the whole song stretches out and seems to take forever. You can anticipate the chorus before it even happens.

As you familiarize yourself with your own music through repetition and practice, you’ll be able to recognize when the tempo of your performance needs to be adjusted.

One Way to Solve the Speed Problem

Recording your gig can really help with this.

Often on tour I’ll have us all listening to our most recent performance. If someone is sleeping, I’ll wake them up because I want them to hear what I’m hearing.

Everyone has to lose their ego for a few seconds as we do this.

In terms of tempo, the drummer may feel that he (or she) is getting picked on. But really, it can be any one of us.

As soon as everyone becomes more conscious, the sooner we can address the problem.

A part of the issue is nerves. Nerves can be useful for a performance but ,when they overcome you, that’s bad.

Especially for a singer who needs air in their lungs and needs their body to remain lose and calm in order to hit those challenging notes.

I’ve always loved to move my legs and jump around during a show, but there came a time when I was literally running out of breath on stage.

Now, I’ve found a way to sort of fake these movements so that I can give myself – and my audience – the experience they want.

PS: My drummer plays to a metronome so we don’t have this problem anymore.

-Val Emmich

Val Emmich is a singer-songwriter, actor & writer based in Jersey City. In 2001 he became the first unsigned artist to be featured on MTV’s Total Request Live. He has nine albums under his belt and just released a digital box set, Posthaste, featuring 60 unreleased songs from his decade-plus career. As an actor he’s appeared on such television shows as 30 Rock and Ugly Betty…

READ MORE about Val Emmich

  • Poppa Madison

    I could have warned about overt physical action while singing. Many years ago I tried doing a stage show telling jokes, playing guitar and singing and jumping on an exercise rebounder. ( Well…..you have to try and be different to see if it gets you more gigs eh?) The Booking agent was absolutely dumbstruck and in awe about my “Great new idea” for entertainment.

    At that time I was also an Aerobics Instructor and boy did I look trim and fit, and, I (wrongly) surmised, the envy of my beer-swilling, chain-smoking audience. The air in the club was thick with cigarette smoke so that some of the audience were invisible to me. I even jested about the dangers of heavy drinking and smoking. The pained looks I got told me I should have been performing at the local gyms and fitness clubs and minding my own business about the unhealthy habits of the club patrons.

    I got the laughs alright, but it was all about my being out of huff and puff as I slowly progressed towards being out of air, blue in the face and in a state of almost total collapse !

    Luckily, I thought to jump off the rebounder in time to save myself from further obligation to look like a Kangaroo Elvis and possibly having someone call an ambulance!

    Lesson learned.

    Do not try this at home…….or ANYWHERE ! : > { lol


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