One area that’s often skipped in the time-consuming process of preparing music is the performance itself–that is, exactly what should happen on stage.

Beyond being able to play all the music you intend to perform, you’ve got to be ready to put yourself in front of an audience.

It’s time to think about your stage presence.

When you’re in front of an audience, you’re much more than a musician.  You’re an entertainer (no matter what genre you play), a story teller, and–above all–an actor.

From the moment you walk on stage to the moment you leave the stage, you must be in character.  This character may be very close to who you really are off stage (as is the case with many singer-songwriters who tell their life stories in their music and in the banter between songs), or it could be a special presence that exists only when you perform (as is the case with some opera divas who bow graciously in their taffeta gowns but would rather wear jeans in everyday life).

No matter who your onstage persona is, that character must take control of the audience and the performance venue.  You will be leading your audience through your performance, and it is important that they feel you know what you’re doing the whole time.

If you look confident, your audience will feel comfortable and they will be on your side.  If you seem unsure of yourself, your audience will be embarrassed for you.  They do not want to pay money for tickets to see a concert where they feel embarrassed.

These performance skills have a lot more in common with the training that actors receive than the training that musicians typically get.  In order to know what you look like on stage, I recommend video taping yourself doing a mock performance.

Watch the video to see what you look like.  Pretend you are an audience member and make sure you trust the performer you see in the video.  Would you want to pay money to see this person perform?

If you don’t like what you see, think about what can change.  Work these changes into your performance and try again.

All musicians need to remember: Even though we spend so much of our time on the music itself, our audience has a completely different take on what we do on stage.  Yes, they are expecting great music, but they also want a great concert experience.

The audience point of view is built into our language itself:  No one says they “heard” a concert last night.  When reporting what they’ve been up to lately to their friends, people will say they “saw” a concert last night.

It’s your job to make sure they like what they see.

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