Article by Alfie Lucero Canaan
5 Tips to Rock the Stage Every Night
- Embrace The Energy
Use negative feelings to your advantage. Nervousness, anxiety, stage fright; all of those emotions could be used as a positive force to aid you. Of course, I understand it’s easier said than done. However, having that idea in mind helps tremendously. I know musician friends of mine that deal with those mixed feelings in various ways. From my experience it ranges from pacing around the room to vomiting right before hitting the stage. It’s unique to everyone. But one reliable way to use those feelings is to create a little routine or tradition to quell those feelings. One singer friend of mine literally takes a shot of rum right before stepping on stage. Others have a group prayer. Others cheer each other on and get pumped. Personally, I like to relax and stay focused. I don’t want to exert to much energy, because I want to use it for the show. And I also basically forget about the show. I remove myself from the situation because I know the music will be good and that I will have a good time. That’s my tradition and way to cope with those feelings. But hey, explore yours!
- It’s All In The Eyes
No looking down or at your instrument. Make eye contact with someone in the crowd or your fellow band members. I like staring at the drummer because we are grooving, but also communicating visually and having fun. Look around you. Music is not about the instrument or the microphone, it’s about having a connection with someone. I like to dance and groove with other people. I know others close their eyes to really listen and feel the music. But the point is to create a connection. Music is not a solitary activity. Its collective emotion packaged into a single shared moment. Quick disclosure: just making eye contact on stage might mean other things, so be aware of what you are doing. Music can be based on eye contact cues, and you don’t want to create confusion. If making an eye contact cue, make sure a big gesture is involved for emphasis (i.e. raising/dropping your hand, nodding, raising/dropping guitar neck, etc.)
- Let Go, Let It Flow
Try to relax and not be stiff. It’s a show, think of performing live as watching a show on tv. If the show doesn’t hook you, you will change the channel. Doesn’t mean that you have to be over the top or go nuts like Flea (Bassist for RHCP). But it’s okay to move and feel the music. Personally, I like using the weight of the downbeat and I use my body to emphasize that. You can try practicing some moves during rehearsal. In other words, what you do with your hands, your shoulders, hips, feet placement and movement. You can even try to coordinate some choreography with your fellow band members (check out Bruno Mars and his ensemble – quite impressive). Or try things at your own pace. Try just swaying in time, or stepping side to side, or even marching in place. The idea is to feel the pulse, to feel the music and let it help you find a physical way to express yourself.
- It’s Okay To Make Mistakes
Never make a disappointed face in front of the crowd. The audience will notice something went wrong when you make a face. Instead, look at your band member and smile. It’s a happy accident, no hurt no foul, and chances are the audience didn’t really notice (unless they know the song very well, like a cover). We as artists are so self-aware and self-conscious, but there’s more outside our bubble. I make mistakes while playing, and that’s fine. I use those mistakes as an opportunity to go somewhere I didn’t think of going. It’s a gateway to new possibilities. Victor Wooten has a beautiful philosophy on making mistakes, I recommend checking out his book, “The Music Lesson.”
- Believe In Your Art
If you believe in your art, fight for it. Show the audience your music is important to you, that you are passionate about it and that your ecstatic to present it. Being an artist on stage means being vulnerable and different people react differently to that situation. Being on stage helps you find yourself as a human being. There’s no comparison to the amount of pressure you will apply on yourself before, during and after a performance. But that’s a good thing, you go through a baptism by fire, you throw yourself on the deep end for the sole purpose of expressing yourself and people will listen.
- Embrace The Energy