Showmanship – or show-womanship – doesn’t equate with flamboyance; it comes from being who you are, but more so. It is about giving your authentic self a platform when you sing, to allow your audience the opportunity to connect with you on a deep and meaningful level.
For instance, take a minute to recall the stage presence of some memorable performers. How was Pavarotti to watch? He was full of Italian character, he exuded cheekiness from every pore of his skin, and that was his authentic self. Very charismatic. What about Dame Joan Sutherland? Well, the Great Dame was a larger-than-life character in many ways, but nicely poised, full of manners and charity.
Don’t they seem to themselves on stage? Don’t you get the impression that they’re having a great time and that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be?
It’s rooted in your desire to give an audience a terrific experience, but it flowers when you let your creative self emerge.
This post coalesces 3 elements of showmanship that apply to musicians in any genre.
THREE ELEMENTS OF SHOWMANSHIP
1. Broadcast an Invitation
Whether your on-stage personality is outgoing or laid back, your presence should broadcast an invitation to the audience in front of you.
The stage and concert hall belong to you, and your listeners are your honoured guests. Invite them in. Smile, allow them to get to know you.
Your authentic demeanour as a singer needs to say, “Alright people, let’s share something magical together.”
2. Project Warmth and Enthusiasm
If there’s a central tenet of showmanship, it’s this: Project; don’t reflect.
When you perform on a cold, rainy day, and the heat in the dressing rooms isn’t working, you convey warmth and enthusiasm from the stage. Then, soon enough, you are warm.
When you mess up a phrase, you deliver the next one with added joy and conviction. Then, when your performance concludes, you project the same satisfaction as if you had nailed every note. You did your best, recovered from the slip and performed with devotion. Both you and the audience enjoyed the music no less than if you hadn’t slipped at all.
3. Take Command
With skillful showmanship, you never transmit anything that’s going on within or around you that doesn’t serve your artistic aims.
You take command of yourself, your material, and the situation, and then listeners place themselves willingly in your hands.