If you want to have a high-level performance there’s a lot to think about. Here you have some important aspects to consider.
I. Technical errors
Poor posture | Body posture | Neck posture
Make sure you’re not too tense or too weak when standing up. Look out for “text neck” caused by staring down at your phone or looking down at your computer. Try a few stretches and relax your way into a better body alignment. You should feel more energised and better prepared for your future vocal tasks.
Poor breathing| Poor breath management
We use the same breathing mechanism for speech as for singing, but “everyday breathing” is too shallow for healthy singing. During singing, our body needs to regulate the airflow in a slightly different way because we have longer phrases to sustain and different volume levels to obtain. I suggest spending some time practicing appropriate breath management techniques and exercises to support your sound sustainably (like appoggio, ‘inhalare la voce’ or CVT support).
Vocal production problems
IIssues like resonance problems, vocal placement, jaw or tongue tension, lack of necessary twang (and the list goes on) can cause strain and make your wanted sound intangible. Remember that a correct technique shouldn’t cause pain, not even when practising extreme vocal tasks. Isolate your problems and work with skill-building exercises meant to resolve them. Don’t push your voice because you may cause vocal damage.
II. Musical errors
Singing out of tune | Pitch problems
There are a lot of mistakes that a singer can make, but being pitchy most of the time is something people can’t overlook. So, record your singing practice and play your voice back to look out for flat or sharp notes to correct. You can practice them with a piano, guitar or even with a piano app, by matching the note you play with the note you sing. You will be surprised to find out that your perception of the melody can be slightly wrong. It never hurts to practice your song note-by-note just to make sure you memorize it correctly before making it your own.
Singing without a sense of rhythm
Singing out of sync with the tempo of a song is not a pleasant experience for neither the singer nor the audience. You can start ‘feeling’ the beat by listening to your song whilst clapping or tapping with each count. Afterwards you can practice singing with a metronome app, varying the tempo and trying to keep up. Record yourself if you are not sure if you’re doing in right.
Singing wrong notes
Improvising and rephrasing are cool performance techniques, but always keep in mind the original melody or theme of the song should you have to follow the sheet thoroughly. If you are not sure your’re singing the actual notes of the melody, try singing it really slowly, paying attention to each note and interval. This will come in handy for riffing, where you need vocal agility and precision at the same time. Practice different scales or riffing patterns from slow to fast and your voice will gain agility points in no time.
III. Song interpretation mistakes
Lack of vocal dynamics
You can think of your song as being a story you are telling. It begins by setting the context (or the mood), and then it develops, reaching peeks of high interest and excitement (like the choruses) and even the unexpected (like a song bridge, instrumental solo… you name it). Vocal dynamics is the quality of singing from soft to loud and vice-versa with smoothness and control. It gives ebb and flow to your song, creating a more dramatic feeling for your listeners. It is a skill not that hard to master; an exercise to learn or improve this craft is ‘mesa di voce’.
No use of vocal effects
Don’t be shy in taking your performance to a high level by adding vocal effects like vibrato, riffs and runs, intentional vocal breaks, or noise effects like distortion, grunt, growl, rattle etc. Choose them wisely, matching your song genre and instrumental sound and it will give your performance authenticity and emotion.
Phrasing it wrong
When adding melodic or rhythmic ornaments to a sequence of a song, a phrase or a word, make sure they go well with the harmony and rhythmic signature of the song. If phrasing on the spot sounds frightening, you can rehearse beforehand different options you may have. Decide what fits best and stick with that in your live performance, you’ll be more confident this way.
IV. Emotional errors
Lack of credibility
If you want your expression to be believable, you have to portray a precise story and character of the song. Try to relate to your lyrics and melody and trust your taste, feelings and judgement. Your job is to create a certain mood for your audience and to provide them with an artistic experience. So, know the story of your song, create a solid character and visualise its journey through each phrase you sing. Trust yourself; your confidence will help project your version of the story/song credibly.
Inability to connect with your audience
If you prepared your story and character, the next step is to ‘sell’ your performance. Make eye contact with your audience; let them know you believe what you say (sing), and the audience will most likely respond positively. Don’t be too rigid or too sloppy, body language is important and can be quite expressive; allow your body to move naturally, guided by the melody or mood of the song. Interact with your band members to reinforce the feeling of the song together; it is nice to see passionate artists on stage doing what they love. Motivate yourself to keep your energy up, even if everything doesn’t go as you planned. It will be easier to overcome certain situations and maybe you’ll also enjoy a little bit of spontaneity.
Unable to sing with the expression you want
I think this happens when you don’t allow yourself to become vulnerable and commit to what you are saying (singing). Maybe you don’t fully trust the chosen expression, or perhaps you don’t understand it completely. Analyse the story and find your truth in it. Try experimenting with different vocal modes and sound colours, especially for the parts you feel disconnected from your artistic message.
V. Textual faults
Make sure you can pronounce all the words from your song correctly, so your audience can understand you. Pay special attention if you sing in a foreign language and spend time getting the right vowel shapes, especially if they are not in your native language’s alphabet. Study speaking them slowly at first while also listening and repeating those words pronounced by a native speaker.
Accents and dialects
You can now choose the style of enunciation or the dialect that will best suit your song choice and character. One can’t usually tell the particular accent of a singer because there are a few distorted things from speech to singing like vowel length and prosody. On the other hand, there are quite a few contemporary artists that like using different accents or even garbled pronunciation on purpose when singing because it gives them a modern flavour. So, keep in mind, this choice is yours, and after all, when it comes to singing it is a matter of personal taste. You don’t have to and can’t expect to please everyone, so enjoy your singing and don’t be afraid to express in your unique way.
If you want to have a high-level performance there’s a lot to think about. Here you have some important aspects to consider. I. Technical errors Poor posture | Body posture | Neck posture Make sure you’re not too tense or too weak when standing up. Look out for “text neck” caused by staring down at…
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