Monday, October 16, 2017

How to keep your performances interesting

Is it enough for your choir to stand in front of an audience and just sing?

Or do you need to make your performances more ‘interesting’ somehow?

Somebody once wrote: “Nobody wants to pay to see you doing your hobby.” The implication being that it’s not enough for a choir to simply share their songs with an audience. There needs to be an effort made to make performances more ‘interesting’.

This can result in all sorts of clever ‘choralography’, fancy costumes, unusual choir formations, false grins, populist repertoire, complicated lighting, and so on. But is it really necessary?

I’ve not heard many people who attend classical orchestral concerts complain that the violinists just sit there, or that the conductor always has their back to the audience, or that they’re bored with hearing the old classics.

Of course, you need to be in ‘performance mode’ when you share your songs with an audience. It’s not enough to shuffle on in your street clothes, stand any old how and sing for yourselves. You need to ‘present’ the songs to the audience. This involves:

  • making sure everyone knows the songs;
  • being well-rehearsed;
  • making  eye-contact with the audience and communicating with them;
  • singing loud enough for everyone to hear;
  • using costume appropriately so that you look like you’re a cohesive group.

But are there other things you need to do to make things ‘interesting’ for your audience?

Apart from the basics listed above, most other considerations are creative.

You’ll need to make sure you have a varied repertoire for your concert (e.g. not all slow songs) and some kind of structure or through-line for the event (to take the audience on some kind of journey).

No matter how much you might love smoked salmon, you would soon get bored if every single course of your meal was smoked salmon. Similarly you need to create variety and ring the changes during a concert.

If you have lots of harmony in a particular song, you might begin with some unison. If you have a run of upbeat songs, you might want to change the mood and have a slow song next.

All it takes is a little bit of thought beforehand, some variety and a genuine willingness to communicate. There is no need for too many bells and whistles. After all, people have come to hear you sing!

You might like to read an old post of mine which seems to encourage the opposite view!

What are you looking at?

I’d love to know what you think about the need to add tricks and gimmicks to make performance more interesting.

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Chris Rowbury



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Chris Rowbury


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