Improve your live performance

How to become a better live performer of your own songs

Here is something I’ve learned lately – I thought I’d pass on – before it disappears from my head. It turns out that making ‘home videos’ of my songs to post them on Facebook is a teaching tool. Because when I watch them back I can see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s an obvious thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway: playing a song live is completely different from recording it and there are a million different ways to play every song. Though, of course, what works for one will not work for another.

So how do we learn what works?

If you are playing lots of gigs, you will learn from the feedback you get from your audience. The more you play, the more you will learn and the more you will integrate that learning into your performance. Without you thinking about it you will develop a facility for reading your audience. Instead of playing your songs you learn to ‘perform’ them.

The flaw is, of course, many songwriters don’t have the opportunity, or the desire, to play live. And right now, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we can’t, even if we wanted to.

Critique your performance using your smart phone

Most of us have ‘smart’ phones that allow us to make videos of ourselves singing and playing the same song in many different ways. I’ve just realised this myself. We can be our own audience and critique our own performance.

So from now on, assuming time and motivation, I intend to take advantage of that facility to try to find the best way to present my own songs on my ‘home videos’. I’ll always be limited by my abilities, or lack of them, as a singer – but that’s not an excuse for not presenting the song in the best way possible. By that I mean how it is arranged and performed.

This morning I played my song, The Yellow Clock in a few different ways. Here’s one version. I would have replayed it without the tiny mistake in the solo – but I ran out of time. The good thing is, I can improve it next time.

Onwards and upwards.

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