Performing with a choir for the first (or hundredth) time can be a scary thing. Here are some approaches you can use to make sure yours is a confident, beautiful and entertaining performance.
It sounds so obvious doesn't it? We're breathing all the time to stay alive, so why do we need to make a special effort to do something so basic when we're performing?
When we're anxious about a performance, our breath is also disrupted. It may become shallow or tense, preventing us from being fully relaxed and impairing the way we feel, sound and look. Slow, regular breaths from the bottom of the belly can help this - and breathing out first can make sure all the muscles we need to sing stay relaxed.
You've probably heard the expression 'Smile and they won't look at your feet.' It's true! Watching a confident, happy performer makes an audience less critical and more relaxed. When someone looks worried, blank-faced or even bored, the audience will share that feeling, and even begin to look for mistakes! So smile, be confident, and those watching you will enjoy every second!
How many of us go into a world of our own when under pressure? The secret to performing well with a choir is listening and singing with others, sharing those moments on stage by being fully present and blending with what others around you are doing. Even if you've spent months learning a tricky harmony, don't belt it just to show off. Instead, listen to other voice parts and blend the best you can with the voices around you. Prioritising listening also makes us feel less alone and thus more more relaxed.
While it's tempting to try and pretend the audience aren't there by looking at the floor, music or into the distance aimlessly, looking out will make you look and feel more in control. Watch the conductor, if you've been asked to, or find a spot on a back wall to focus on. Your face will be more watchable, and we'll know more about the music and the personality of the choir.
Tell the Story
Want to engage, move and captivate your audience? Bring together all of the above techniques and then put the story at the heart of your performance. Use your expressions, tone and eyes to share the soul of the music, be it a recognisable story as told through lyrics, or an emotional journey. Without this, music is merely a collection of sounds - which whilst maybe beautiful, can leave audiences cold. Be the storyteller and share something magical through song.
What other tips do you have for making a performance memorable? Share them with us!