Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Survive on Stage

So a friend said to me the other day, "I don't know how you get up in front of people and sing like that." I took that as a compliment, though in retrospect might not have been... And deep down, I know she was just making conversation, but because I take stuff like that as a literal challenge, I figured I'd share my "secrets to success" with the rest of the world. Maybe its more like, "failing without destroying your ego" but I'll let you make the call.

Ok, so here's my formula for public performance:
1) Practice as much as you can so then you know deep down that even if you suck in front of everyone, you can tell yourself you *know* you *could* have done a great job.
2) Know that everyone out there wants you to succeed. Nobody wants to hear you fail, so they will forgive what you're doing wrong, and listen more for what you're doing right. People will remember the 2 verses you did right, not the one you monkey'ed up if you take it in stride. (Judged events and angry drunks are different. I recommend avoiding both.)
3) Perform for people a lot. Eventually it won't throw you off as much because you'll have said every possible stupid thing under the sun. After a while doing dumb stuff into a mic won't phase you as much and you might even start to enjoy it. Yes, even *I* have said stuff I regretted. No, I won't tell you what I said. You had to be there, and I'm glad you weren't. Wait until next time, and yes, there will be a next time.
4) People don't care as much as you do about what you sound like. My inner critic and suck-meter are far more sensitive than most audiences. Yours probably is too.
5) You're never too 'seasoned' to psych yourself out. It still happens to me on occasion, usually in church. My kids think it's really funny to see my legs shaking. All you can do is get back on the horse. Next time will go better.
6) Make sure there's a next time.
7) Instructions are pretty simple. The execution is tricky.

There is one more kind of anti-guideline caveat-thing, and that is simply to know when it's NOT your turn. Sometimes you should just take a bow. Play nice and give someone else the spotlight. I've been at a couple events lately where someone has asked me to play/sing spur of the moment. Sometimes this is fine, sometimes it isn't. I was at a house warming with work friends. My friends knew I played guitar, but the hosts didn't, nor did they ask me to play. I don't think that's an appropriate time to surprise people with you 'talents.' Also, I was at a wedding reception recently where the bride, after finishing singing a song herself, looked my way and pointed the mic at me. I appreciated the invite, but really, it was her moment and I'm not going to be the douchebag that tries to one-up the bride. And seriously, how would I follow that up, anyway? Here's some Nirvana unplugged I hope ya'll like!

So that's it in a nutshell. Be yourself, but not so much of yourself that you look like a total idiot. Maybe next time I'll reduce the 7 points down to one.

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