"What was wrong with my performance?" - A guide to getting it right

"What was wrong with my performance?" - A guide to getting it right
After recently running a local singing talent quest, I've received request after request from unsuccessful competitors for feedback, led by the question "What was wrong with my performance?” I've not yet replied to these singers for this reason...

"You're missing the point! When assessing your performance, your focus should be on what is was you did right by your audience."

What mistakes am I making?

You see, in my opinion, a singer's biggest mistake is thinking that any performance is in fact about them... It's actually entirely about your audience. The applause, the praise, and the judge's marks come out of a feeling... How did you make your audience feel? Your audience is extraordinarily selfish, and they genuinely do not care how well you did. They care about having an experience... they desperately want to be moved! People listen to music because they are seeking an escape or processing some emotion... It is your job as an artist to enable them to do to that. 

Yes, work on your craft… Yes, take singing lessons… and yes, rehearse your songs… but when it comes to performance, try not to get too caught up in the details. Or rather switch your focus! You can cross-examine the way you sang that day in your mind a trillion times… ask the judges for a detailed list of your mistakes, and confront your vocal tutor about gaps in your learning, but if you don’t consider what your audience might have wanted from you that day, you are going about your critique the wrong way.

How do I get it right?

My suggestion would be to start with the question, “What did I feel when I was singing that song?” If the answer is “nervous”, my guess is your audience felt nervous for you. If your answer is “nothing, I was just thinking about singing it correctly”, my guess is your audience was consciously listening for every error. 

Next time you are preparing for a performance, choose a song that makes you feel something! Choose a song wherein you can connect with the lyrics or with some emotion of your own. Tap into a memory, a wish, a yearning, a fantasy… relate it to a book, or a movie, or a story your Mum told you once! Use any device you can, so that once you are on that stage, all you need to do is to fall into that feeling. I guarantee your audience will feel it too, and finally, you will gain the response you’ve always daydreamed about... The kind of response no amount of studied and rehearsed technique could possibly achieve on its own.

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