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performer’s edge wiTh Tom JAckSon the voice box wiTh rAcheL FerGuSon
I talk a lot about creating moments for your live show.
So what is a “moment?”
It’s that connection with an audience that is
emotional—where the lightbulb goes on for them. Some
people call it an “ah-hah” moment.
When you’re driving down the road listening to music
on the radio and something touches you, really moves
you, it causes you to go and buy that CD or download
that song. You want to re-live that “moment.” You want
to have that “moment” at your disposal any time you
It’s the same thing with your live show. Sometimes you
play a song, the planets have aligned, you can actually
hear the monitors and after the show people come
up saying, “Where’s that song? That song about that
thing?” And really what they’re saying is “Where’s that
song that made me feel that way?” That’s a moment!
Since it’s easier to describe a musical moment, I’ll start
there. Audiences don’t understand musical things. So
you have to make it easy for them. A simple way to do
this is to find something in the song to develop. Usually
I look at the intro, the solos, the bridge or the outro.
I start by stripping a part down to a simple rhythmic
or vocal groove and then invite the audience in by
laying that groove or line down so that it’s in its simplest
form—not a complicated riff or anything. Then we begin
to build that section out. We start layering on top of that
simple foundation and develop it so that the audience
can see and experience the process as we build it.
The beauty of this for both audience and artist is that
you can build it differently each night if you have the
musical skill to do so. (This is where spontaneity comes
in.) And if you don’t have the musical skills or are still
developing them, you can still do it. You just do the
musical moment the same each night and the audience
experiences what they think is spontaneity!
So listen to your songs (over and over!), look for
sections to develop and get creative!
Tom Jackson, #1 Live Music Producer in the industry, helps artists develop
their show into “unique memorable moments!” Many successful artists
have learned from Tom: Taylor Swift, Jars of Clay, Jordin Sparks, Casting
Crowns, Francesca Battistelli, Gloriana, and other acts you admire! For
more info, go to www.onstagesuccess.com.
I’m so glad to be settling into a new year and I hope that
you are too! I usually eschew New Year’s Resolutions;
preferring instead to make it through January as
healthily as I can, then to evaluate what changes I’d
like to make, or goals I would like to set for myself in
February. And that’s where we are now…
One of my goals for 2011 is to be actively involved in
my church choir. I joined this wonderful group last fall,
but due to extensive travel and prior commitments, I
wasn’t able to be as consistent in my attendance and
participation as I would have liked. It was a shame,
because in addition to the opportunity to worship
through wonderful music, I also had to put building
new friendships and relationships with my fellow choir
members on hold! So here’s to 100% choir attendance in
2011… so far.
Although most church choirs and worship teams
remain volunteer organizations so that many can
participate, there are still easy things you can do to
honor your commitment and make the most of your
time and of your contribution. First, attendance… Your
choir director/worship leader can only do so much; if
you’re not there to take the direction, you’ll miss out
on important information. With attendance also comes
attention. We’re all very busy and have a million other
things to juggle, but for the 2-3 hours that you’re in your
choir or worship team time, please REALLY be there!
Put the smart phone away, turn off that internal list of
everything else that’s going on and give your attention
to your leader. Finally, you have a responsibility to
take care of your instrument (your lovely voice!). Next
month I will go into greater depth regarding vocal
health, but for this month, let me just say: HYDRATE!
Drink water. Lots of it. And not just during rehearsal
or before performances, but all day, everyday: for the
most comfort and efficiency of your voice, hydration
is key. Be a responsible choir member and drink your
I look forward to continuing our discussion on vocal
health, but until then, I encourage you to be well and to
remember the One for whom you sing.
Rachel Ferguson, MM, MT-BC, NICU-MT, is a Board Certified Music Therapist
and the Founder of Whole Note Music Therapy. She is also a vocalist and
teaches voice lessons. She lives in San Diego, Calif. For more information,
IT’s The “ah-hah”