Thursday, March 23, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #13: Interacting with the audience

Audience interaction is a critical skill that any top performer needs to master. Whether you are performing for a small group of folks, like a flute circle, or when you are onstage at a major venue, the rules are the same. You want each member of the audience to feel like your performance is just for them. I seen performers come on stage and deliver a spectacular musical performance, yet never connect with the audience. And I've seen other's who have delivered a mediocre performance in musical terms, yet deliver a fantantic overall experience through their interaction with the audience and setup for the song. Now I am not suggesting that you turn a musical performance into a lecture, but thinking about your 'banter' in your setup and conclusion to each song goes along way to make the musical performance that much more special. It also helps to reduce the stress that you are feeling on stage, when you can connect with the folks in the audience.

If you don’t enjoy performing, there’s no reason to really do it. It’s that simple. The audience should be your ally. The best adrenaline rushes come from the interaction between performer and the audience. As a performer, you have the task of defining the performance. You are the magician making the magic happen (or not happen) on stage.

Here are a few tips:

  • Even seasoned performers get nervous.
  • Look at your audience; connect with them through eye contact. If someone lights up (as in smiles...not tobacco or something else...) when you look at him or her, you’ve made contact, and you can use this to help lighten up your nervousness.
  • Smile, relax, take a deep breath. Even though you are on stage, you don't have to be talking or playing every moment. It's OK to adjust/tune your flute/instument between songs, just don't let this linger toooo long.
  • Enjoy the adrenaline rush; it’s one of the reasons why most people get hooked on performing. If you don’t enjoy the adrenaline rush, your performing career will be short lived.
  • Invite people you know, love or trust to be a part of the audience. Their presence will help to calm your nerves.
  • Tell a story between songs (see a future playing tip)
  • Close your eyes when you play. What better way to remove the distractions of the situation and get lost in the moment.

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