Elements of a Great Performance

I’ve been performing music since I was about 5 years old.

I started off by singing solos in church. Later, I joined a choir. I played trumpet in school band, was part of a high school rock band, played drums in a worship band for 7 years, and I’ve been leading worship in churches and other events for the past 5 years or so. I’ve gone to countless concerts, worship events, and watched many, many musical performances.

This may seem pretty obvious, but I feel that it’s worth stating here:

A key part of being a performing artist is the ability to give a great performance.

Your music and musical skills may be great. That’s great, and that’s important. But if you want people to keep coming to your shows, you need to give them something to watch.

There are many aspects to a great performance, and many people out there who have much more to say about it than I do. But allow me to share three simple things I’ve learned over the years that can take your performances mediocre to great.

Environment

You want it to be easy for the audience to get in the “zone” with you. Whether that “zone” is a worship environment, an intimate singer/songwriter feeling, or a head banging rock show. Bring them in, and carry them along.

Lighting and visual cues can help a lot here. But even something as simple as song choice and order makes a difference. Let the mood and feeling flow from song to song.

Group some energetic songs together to get the excitement level high. Gradually cool down into some more mellow and reflective songs. Then start pumping the audience up to a huge finish that will have them telling all their friends about how awesome your concert was.

Engage your audience. Get them to sing parts of your songs. Ask them questions. Make them feel involved and like they’re a part of the show.

Play for the song, not for yourself

As I mentioned, I played drums in a band for 7 years. As a young, excited drummer, I was eager to show off all my awesome beats, wicked fills, and sick timing at any opportunity.

I was playing for me. Trying to make my instrument stand out as awesome at all times.

Don’t play for yourself. Play for the song. Make the song sound as good as possible at all times. Even if that means you need to back off and stop playing altogether.

Of course, this is more relevant in a band, but it applies to solo act a well. If you’re singing and playing guitar, don’t wail on the guitar during a soft section. Make sure the instruments (the guitar and your voice) are mixed appropriately. Play for the song.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice by yourself.

Practice with the band.

Record yourself and listen to it. Film yourself and watch it.

Get out there are perform more often. Read the audience. What do they like? What gets them to respond?

The only way to get better is to do it. So stop reading this post, and get out there and play some music!

What are some your performance tips? Leave a comment!

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