The Secret to NOT Over-Performing

The Secret to NOT Over-Performing

Rachel Lebon reveals what a judge’s low score taught her performance success.

In my first Air Force Wide talent contest, I received high scores from two of the three judges.

The third judge’s score, however, was radically lower that the others.

I had obviously underwhelmed him.

His main criticism was that I had “overplayed” the performance.

Upset at the time, I’d come to understand that he had a point.

Out-of-control adrenaline while “strutting my stuff” apparently resulted in a performance that seemed “over the top.”

I’ve since had many opportunities to evaluate vocal performers in diverse settings as well.

Here are the secrets I’ve learned since about getting auditions and performances “right”.

  • 1. Entrances.

    You’re “on” the moment you walk on stage or into the room. Your appearance plus the way you conduct yourself as you enter and introduce yourself to the panel (or through video) will immediately create an impression.

  • 2. Accompaniment.

    The manner in which you interact with accompaniment is also revealing. Remember, you’re making music together, and the accompaniment should be clear and readable. If you’re using am instrumental track, it should be in your comfortable key, of good quality and ready to go.

  • 3. Exits.

    Remember that your “Thank You” and the manner in which you exit is also a part of the audition.

  • 4. Introductions.

    If you’re using a video, introduce yourself slowly and distinctly, performing with your eyes towards the camera. Even better, look directly into the camera.

  • 5. Honesty.

    “Do your thing” honestly and with the assurance that comes with good preparation.

  • 6. Attitude.

    Finally, don’t perform with the attitude that “I’m going to knock them out.” On the contrary, that’s more likely to turn them off.

Candid Critiques = A Goldmine

Performing in numerous vocal competitions and auditions constitutes valuable learning experience.

You don’t easily forget straightforward, occasionally harsh comments: they remain ever etched in your mind.

But one also tends to learn far more from candid critiques than kindhearted compliments!

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Dara Tucker Dara Tucker – “The Nearness of You” (Cover)

Appreciated that you’re performing musically and convincingly in a variety of styles and with beautiful sensitivity. Regardless of style, the lyrics shine through, and the music and lyrics are synthesized into a beautiful whole. You negotiate your vocal range naturally with good coordination and have a great rhythmic sense of pulse. In your ballads you “took the song somewhere,” but in an understated way, minus affectations, which is refreshing. Lovely vibrato and great attention to your releases. But you can also project, as evidence by your with R & B and Gospel selections. Enjoyed the original tunes as well. Best wishes for continuation of a successful career.

Antonette Marie Antonette Marie – “Chandelier” (Cover)

Nice, sensitive rendition. Pretty voice. Good sense or rhythm and pulse. Sounds personalized. Not over-singing. The added studio effects do enhance the vocals quite a bit.
Towards the end, the repeated phrases sung need to indicate a change in attitude or intensity so they don’t sound recited, but sound like they are entering your mind as you sing them, which makes your rendition sound even more genuine until the very end. Enjoyed hearing you! Keep on singing!

Proper Sound Proper Sound – “Come Fly With Me” (Cover)

Proper Sound indeed…living up to your name! Wow! Really nice! Excellent intonation, with nice style and chords blending beautifully! Fine individual voices across the board! Nice lead! Feel free to choreograph the “buzz” (important) words even a bit more. Of course, that’s easier selling to a live audience rather than in a room in front of live mics. Also, you can treat the “asides” (“up and away.” Let’s get away”) a bit lighter, like echoes. Starting sustained notes on words (“Let’s “ (Up) there”) slightly lighter allows them to build a bit more into a natural crescendo for impact. Flinging the “l” in words like “fly, “blue” and “flood,”” allows the vowels to project and coordinate attack into the notes. On releases, making them rhythmic, even if you decrescendo can really provide even more swing and crisp releases. But’s that’s being picky. Really enjoyed your performance!! Good Luck and hope to hear you “out there.”


Rachel Lebon

Rachel L. Lebon, Ph.D. has been a professional vocalist and studio singer and is currently a professor at the University of Miami. She toured worldwide with Tops in Blue and has toured the Soviet Union and Portugal. Rachel is an author and lectures worldwide on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders. www.miami.edu.

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