The most powerful singers are not only skilled technicians with finely tuned instruments; they are also great storytellers and engaging communicators who act the part of the character singing each song.
Sometimes your entire set list will be the voice of the same character sharing different perspectives on a related theme or experience. Other times the songs may be the voices of different characters in unrelated stories. Now this does not mean that the voice literally changes, but it does mean that the sense of time, place, and perspective is different for each song. That difference could be very subtle or very dramatic.
Define The Details
When you approach a song, there are a number of questions to ask that will help you tell the story and find the right voice and sense of character for the storyteller. It’s very much as if you are engaged in musical theatre. The key point is to be clear in your head and heart about the details of the story for each song.
Questions you should ask for each song are: who is singing it? Where is the person singing in terms of the setting as far as time and location go? What is the age, social status of the character that is singing the song? What are their relationships like in terms of family, friends, and love? What has happened to them to prompt the song? What are they feeling that fuels the emotions that drive the song? Why are they expressing the sentiment, feelings, and details of the song?
Who is the song for? What is the history or relationship between the singer and who is song is for? What changes or shifts in feeling or perspective take place during the song? How does the song impact the life of the character singing? What is their next step? How do they feel by the end of the song? How is this different from how they felt before the song?
Personalize As You Please
You can add your own questions and touches of information for each song. The goal is to have a specific reason for telling the story and engaging the audience song by song. The clearer the details for you personally, the more colors, textures, and nuance will help to shape and move the song. Because of the emotional investment and attention to detail, the greater the focus, and the greater the impact will be for your audience as they hear and receive the story of each song.
Practice + Training The Details
Just as detail in critical in each lesson with your coach and each lesson and exercise you engage from the products offered at SSTV, so are the details of the story you tell with each song.
Think about how the best performances move you beyond technique. You are impressed by the skill and proficiency of a singer with great chops, but it is the singer that captures the imagination, stirs the spirit, and moves the heart that has the greatest impact.
Resonate – To Be Great
When you ask your questions about each song, look for the details, information, and touches that resonate with you or those that you think will hit home for your audience. You want to build a rapport and a sense of familiarity with your audience that has them thinking, “I’ve been there” or “They know me” or “I feel for you.” This will come most readily if you know and clearly communicate the story for each song. Talk It Through To help with communicating the story, don’t forget to talk through each of your songs as monologues or as if you are engaged in a conversation. This is only for practice, but it will help you personalize each song and find subtleties and colors and ideas you may not otherwise discover.
Look for personal connections to each song. In fact, the character singing each song is you in the eyes of your audience. So, the more these details are something you can personally relate to, the more moving your delivery will be. What Happens Next To better understand a sense of character and story, you can improvise a response to each song by carrying it through to what you feel will happen next. This will help give you a sense of where the character singing each song is headed. It makes each song truly have a life of its own and can heighten or enhance what compels you to sing each piece.
Study soundtracks from musical theatre pieces and their film versions. This may help you with learning to tell the story of each song and get you more comfortable with a sense of creating characters for songs as needed.
Use SSTV Products + Resources
So use the programs, products, and forums to develop and refine your technique and to explore and engage all aspects of your vocal skills. And remember, it is the most effective communicators and the most compelling storytellers that tap into their treasure trove of skills to make a lasting impression and realize the greatest potential of their singing success.