When you know your heart is protected, you can open up more on stage –says Katarina Henryson.
The Real Group, consisting of five a capella singers, has been performing 60 shows a year for 30 years. They have found a way to stay together, even through a marriage and a divorce within the group.
They believe their 20-minute rule is a big reason why they keep going.
If a member of a group or band feels stifled and unable to be creative on stage – they are not going to last very long. It’s not a nice way to live as a musician, is it?
Katarina Henryson of the Real Group has thought through this problem. Her group came up with a very simple rule. “No one in the group is allowed to say anything negative for 20 minutes after a performance,” says Henryson, “No matter how badly the show may have gone.”
At times, the 20-minute rule was awkward. Sometimes they all hated it, but after 30 years and counting, they see its power and they never stray from it.
“It is the power of the positive,” says Henryson. She is fully aware that people are sceptical of positive reinforcement, since it often leads to meaningless praise for mediocre work. For their group, however, it has been essential to their success.
She explains that the 20-minute rule releases you from the need to prove you noticed every tiny thing that went wrong, and helps you to focus on only those things that matter most.
She admits that there have been many shows, where the 20 minutes of positive-only talk has been an act, but 20 minutes of being false is still much better than the damage negative thoughts can do.
Singing in a vocal group requires you to be physically and mentally fit, according to Henryson. You have to hit a certain note at the right time in the right way, every time. “We are our own worst critics after a performance,” says Henryson, “We focus on the mistakes, and forget everything that went well.”
Henryson talks about how important it is to let go of control in a performance. “When you know your heart is protected, you can open yourself up more on stage.” A great performer can embrace whatever is happening in the moment and let the music simply exist, she explains. It is difficult to do this when you fear judgement. It may only be 20 minutes of protection, but it strengthens your fragile singer’s soul for much longer.
“You go out on stage with the mental task of collecting all the good things that occur, which is a whole different mindset,” says Henryson. She admits it has taken years for her to see just how big the impact has been on her as a performer.
If you are a singer who sometimes struggles to let go and embrace the moment in a performance, you might want to try this rule out. Next time you walk off a stage after a performance, say only positive things about it. Keep doing that for 20 whole minutes. You might find it’s a habit you want to keep.
The Real Group has performed over 2000 concerts in 40 different countries since they began in 1984. The award winning a cappella vocal ensemble hails from Sweden, and has been internationally recognized for their contribution to the vocal jazz genre and a cappella singing. The group is the full-time job of all five members, which includes extensive touring, recording, workshops, writing and arranging their repertoire. Visit the Real Group’s webpage
Katarina Henryson was born in Stockholm Sweden and is a founding member of The Real Group. She sings alto and has arranged and produced some of the group’s hits. Beyond the Real Group, Katarina has worked extensively as a back–up singer, holds a music degree, plays the piano and cello, and is highly regarded as a clinician giving workshops to vocalists world-wide. Katarina’s full bio
Aarhus Vocal Festival (AAVF) VoiceCouncil.com would like to thank the Aarhus Vocal Festival for facilitating this interview.