Stop Hiding Behind False Humility – Front Your Band

Stop Hiding Behind False Humility - Front Your Band
Real humility is accepting the role you have been called to –says Tom Jackson. 

Some singers struggle with their role as front person in a band. Their thoughts go something like this:

“Aw shucks, I hope people like me. I’m just going to play my songs and stare at my shoes the whole time. By the way, I’ll be killing it musically speaking, but I sure wouldn’t want to show off.”

When you front a band, you have been called to a specific role, with a specific job description

The biggest obstacle that stops artist succeeding as frontman or front woman, is false humility.

When you front a band, you have been called to a specific role, with a specific job description.

I have worked with artists from around the world and if I were to name names (nothing personal!), I’d say it is the Canadians, New Zealanders, and contemporary Christian artists I’ve met who struggle the most in this area.

Real humility

So what then, is real humility?

Real humility is accepting the role you have been called to.

In American football, the quarterback is the key player. He calls the plays, he gets the ball hiked to him, he throws the passes and he orchestrates everything.

When you front a band, you are like that quarterback.

There are certain things you must do, including talking to the audience, leading them through your show and being compelling to watch. These are part of your job description.

Have plan, will lead

The plays in a game of football are not made up on the spot. The team has rehearsed them over and over again.

A quarterback goes in with a plan, but more importantly, he takes charge, and he is ready to be spontaneous.


To avoid doubts, take yourself through a mental process beforehand to get your mind in the right space

It is not enough that you can throw the ball. You have to be a good leader. You have to be able to take charge, and respond in the moment.

Get yourself psyched up

If being like a quarterback doesn’t come naturally to you, you may need to get yourself psyched up to do your job.

I’ve taught at conferences hundred and hundreds of times. Sometimes I walk out in front of 150 people sitting there, waiting for me to teach and I suddenly feel stupid.

I think, “Who am I do be doing this?” and, “What do I know?”

To avoid those doubts, I take myself through a mental process beforehand to get my mind in the right space.

This process for some people involves listening to music, exercising, or standing on their heads! Everybody is different in how they get themselves mentally ready.

I go through a belief system in my heart, my head and my being, whenever I run into those doubts.

I say, “Wait a minute. It is not a coincidence that they asked you to do this.” Whether there are three people or three thousand, I use the same process to get ready.

It is crucial to do this mental preparation, because by the time you hit that rehearsal or show, you have to be the leader.

A sign of true humility

Don’t forget to give credit where it is deserved. Accept the authority of your role, but remember your true humility.

A great front person shows humility when he or she talks about what a great band it is

After they win the game, the quarterback gets interviewed and praises his team mates.

A great front person shows humility when he or she talks about what a great band it is, or who helped write a certain song.

If you are currently fronting a band, I challenge you to walk in the authority you’ve been called to.

Work yourself up mentally before you show up, give credit to those who help you, work from a plan and I know you’ll be able to do your job.

Tom Jackson photoTom Jackson is the author of Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method, and the DVD series All Roads Lead To The Stage. He tours internationally as a live music producer and speaker as well as being the founder of Live Music Cares, which helps touring musicians bring awareness and fundraising to charitable organizations. Find out more about Tom at On Stage Success and Tom Jackson Productions.

Lang_Bliss picTom’s team of certified live music producers includes Lang Bliss, who will be contributing this month’s feedback for our singing competition entries.

Lang Bliss has played and sung with award-winning artists including Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins, Michael McDonald, and has been a songwriter for BMG publishing. Find out more about Lang Bliss.

Here is Lang’s feedback for this week’s competition entry:

My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Colleen McGovern Colleen McGovern - Iris

I really like Colleen’s song choice; it seems to work well on 12 string.
I would suggest though, that she either go back and learn the chords exactly as they are on the recording and really get the interesting voicing used by the Goo Goo Dolls, or depart even more from the original and do something musically that could take the song in a different or unexpected direction.

  • Jody Shealy

    A good word. I would need some performance lessons.

  • keith

    “Canadians, New Zealanders… who struggle the most in this area”. Sir, Canadians and NZers have class and are modest by nature, the audience can see and associate a modest performer as someone like themselves, it draws them into the performance…unlike the worship/idolatry treated to their garish performing cousins across the pond and to the south. It’s a style thing, and if you are naturally modest it is best to be yourself and be modest on stage. Honesty works, artificial flamboyance and co-erced showmanship that is rife in modern bands does not. Be yourself on stage and all will be good.

  • Kathy Coneys Alexander

    I don’t think a naturally modest person needs to become artificially flamboyant in order to fill the role of front man/woman. I agree with Keith – we shouldn’t betray our authentic personality – the audience won’t buy that. An audience, however, needs a ‘shepherd’ for the evening. Not necessarily a show-off or a drama queen, but someone who is in control and who will help them know where the evening is going and help them get the most out of it. I say this as a (falsely) humble Canadian.