Archives for 

About Performing

About Performing

About Performing

See our guides about singing and performing.  With helpful tips and great advice

Audition Advice Whether you wish to be the next superstar, or just want a place in a band, choir or musical production, having a successful singing audition will help you achieve your dream.

Using Backing Tracks Backing tracks are audio recordings or computer generated music files that bands/singers play/sing along to.  They may also be known as playbacks, jam tracks, instrumental practice or rehearsal tracks.

Charisma – That Elusive X-Factor  The dictionary describes Charisma as: ‘A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm’. ‘Personal magnetism or charm’. ‘A personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others’.

Worry About Forgetting Your Lyrics We’ve all forgotten our lyrics at some point or another.  You’re mind’s gone blank.  A cold sweat is quickly breaking out on your back, Your audience is looking up at you. What do you do now? Have a back up plan:

Mic Technique  This is just a basic guide into microphones.  Know how to hold a microphone. Learn some mic technique for vocals and how to get the best from your microphone.

Performance Blues What happens if you don’t you love to sing anymore?  Here’s some ideas to help you overcome it:

How To Be More Confident  Feel too nervous to get up and have a go? – You are not alone. Many professional singers suffer with nerves before they sing live!   To sing with confidence? Try the following tips…

Singing With Emotion When you need to work on emotive singing, try our free vocal exercise to to help you discover singing with different emotions.

Stage Fright You hear yourself being introduced.  Your mouth runs dry.  Your heart is pounding in your chest.  There are butterflies in your stomach and you’re ready to flee…

Audition Advice

Audition Advice

Whether you wish to be the next superstar, or just want a place in a band, choir or musical production, having a successful singing audition will help you achieve your dream.   So many people turn up for auditions totally unprepared and are just setting themselves up for failure, yet with a little bit of homework, you could greatly increase your chances of being selected.

 Know what you are committing to

Some groups/shows/competitions require more than others.  For example a local choir probably meets one evening a week, and if you could put in some extra practice now and again, that’s great.  A TV talent show on the other hand could tie you up for several months.  Eg. Lets say you get through all the selection process and you get to appear on the live shows,  you will spend lots of time away from home/work in rehearsals as well as the shows.  Can you commit yourself to that?

You will greatly improve your chances if you are available, as a director is going to want someone reliable, as often the rehearsal couldn’t go ahead without all the team being available.

Select the right song

Choosing an audition song is difficult.  It needs to show off your voice and your singing abilities, suit the genre of what you are auditioning for, and possibly it needs to stand out from the crowd.

Your song shouldn’t be too easy, but also don’t pick something so difficult, that you struggle to sing it.

Also have a back up song, just incase you are asked to sing something else as well.

Something else to mention here about choosing audition songs.  If there are several rounds to your audition, then reserve one of your better songs for later in the selection process.  It will help pace yourself, and you know you can pull an Ace out of the bag when you need it most.

Make sure you know your song (s) off by heart, inside out and back-to-front.  Auditions are nerve-racking situations, don’t make it worse for yourself by forgetting your place or your lyrics

Be Prepared

An audition is not just about choosing the right song.  Do yourself a few favours and research what you are auditioning for.  Use the internet, to research about the group/competition, listen to the songs, watch video clips and possibly buy the sheet music to learn if it’s available.

Practice looking confident.  It will help you when your nerves kick in during the audition.  Walk tall and with purpose. Practice a few smiles and poses in front of a mirror. Learn to make eye contact, it will make you look sincere. If you practice enough, it will become second nature to you.

If you are using sheet music or backing tracks for your audition. Make sure they have your name on it, and that they are clearly labeled.  If you are using a musical score, make sure the accompanist can clearly see where you want to come in, and where you want to end (usually 16 bars).

If there is a dance element to your audition, make sure you have your dance kit packed ready, and don’t forget your shoes.  Also don’t forget a hairbrush and makeup if you wear it, etc to do some touch ups before your audition.

Auditions can be long days.  Make sure you take something to eat and drink.  There’s not always facilities to buy something when you get there.

Try to have a good night’s sleep the night before your audition, so that you are feeling your best, rather than having a night on the tiles.

Plan your journey so that you arrive in plenty of time for your audition.  There’s nothing worse than being late and completely missing your slot.

Make sure you have some warm-up scales on your mp3 player, to that you can warm-up your voice before you go in for your audition.  Some auditions have a place available for this, otherwise opt for the next best thing – the toilets seem to be a good a place as any, as many TV auditions seem to show.  By warming up your voice, it will help prevent your voice from cracking and croaking, it will also help calm your nerves and give you something to focus on.

Be presentable

Your appearance does make a difference and how you present yourself will show the auditioner(s) how seriously you want to be taken. Make sure what you are wearing is comfortable and allows you to move (and breathe in some cases!) to give your best performance.  Don’t wear killer heels unless you can walk or perform in them confidently.  You don’t want to be the one remembered for falling over.

Make an effort to look nice, but don’t go overboard.  Unless there is a dress code, smart casual usually works, a bit of makeup if you wear it, clean shoes, neat hair, and cover up too much flesh.  The auditioner want to see you, and what you can do, not how expensive your revealing dress is.  Also don’t use gimmicks like fancy dress costumes.  They will just make you stick out, and look like you’re not taking the audition seriously.  Also – you not going to get the part just because you own part of the wardrobe.

Be personable

Your audition can possibly start from the time you arrive at the venue, especially so in the case of TV talent shows.  You are being assessed by researchers, who are out looking for who/what they want long before you even get to sing.  You should always be pleasant, friendly and eager to be there.  Try to be approachable at all times.

When you are eventually called in for your audition, smile, look at them and say hello.  You will be guided as to where you need to stand and when to start.   Sing to your auditioner, make a little eye contact, but don’t stare them out so they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

The auditioner may well interrupt you before you have finished.   It is usually because they’ve heard what they need to hear.  They may or may not ask you for a second song if they’re not quite sure about you.  This will show them how much you’ve prepared for this audition.

When you have finished, they may give you some feedback there and then as to how you done, or what you could do to increase your chance for next time.  Listen to what they have to say and take it on board.  Don’t be rude or defensive.  They are only trying to help. Also don’t forget to thank them for their time.  It’s a long day for them too.

Aim high and work harder

Be prepared to work harder and longer at what you want to achieve.

Get some vocal coaching to help you with your singing and your audition technique.

Spend time in front of a mirror practicing moves and facial expressions.  The more you practice, the easier and more natural it becomes.

Listen to any comments or feedback about your audition, and take them onboard, if you made a mistake, learn from it.

Don’t make any excuses for your lack of preparation when being auditioned eg, I’m sorry I don’t know how this bit goes, or sorry I haven’t had time to practice.  It is only going to show you up as someone who couldn’t be bothered, and if you can’t be bothered, then why should the auditioner.

If you are genuinely ill, don’t make excuses for it. The auditioner will see you are suffering and is more likely to view you in a more positive way for not moaning about it.

Remember you may only have one chance to make that impression. From the moment you walk onto the stage you are being assessed.  If you come across as a positive, fun and friendly person, who has done their homework, you will greatly improve your chances of being selected as a team member.  However, if you fail to get selected this time, it doesn’t always mean you didn’t sing well. Often it is down to you are not what the auditioner was looking for this time.  Please don’t give up. Keep at it. Try, try again and one day you will succeed.

© Successful Singing

Singing With Emotion

Singing With Emotion

Use our free vocal exercise to to help you discover singing with different emotions.

What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor is such a well-known song, and it is incredibly wordy, which is great for warming up lips and facial muscles. Also it is an easy song to sing when you need to work on emotive singing Try singing each verse with a different emotional emphasis. Here are some ideas, but you can always include your own:

Emotion 1 – Panicky.

Try to sound worried and stressed.

Emotion 2 – Seasick.

Imagine the rolling motion of a boat and see what it does to your phrasing.

Emotion 3 – Outraged.

Spit out the consonants in fury.

Emotion 4 – Funny.

Do a fake laugh, now sing with that quality.

Emotion 5 – Secretive.

Sing as if you are whispering to a friend.

Emotion 6 – Disappointed.

Put on your best disappointed voice.

Emotion 7 – Flirty.

Imagine you’re seducing someone!

Emotion 8 – Innocent.

This should be your best child-turning-on-the-charm voice.

Emotion 9 – Enjoyment.

Sing this verse as if it’s a pub singalong.


Observe what each emotion does to your voice whilst singing. Do the dynamics change? Does your vocal quality change? Do some verses feel easier than others to sing? How does it come across?  Do you feel different when singing that emotion?   What could you do to improve the feeling you are trying to replicate?   Ask yourself these questions and maybe get someone in to listen to you and let them guess what emotion you are trying to put across.

Price: £0.10
Press play to hear


Verse 1

What shall we do with the drunken sailor,
What shall we do with the drunken sailor,
What shall we do with the drunken sailor,
Early in the morning?

Hooray and up she rises,
Hooray and up she rises,
Hooray and up she rises,
Early in the morning!

2. Sling him in the longboat ’til he’s sober, (x 3)
Early in the morning!

3. Put him in the bilge and make him drink it, (x 3)
Early in the morning!

4. Put him in a leaky boat and make him bale it, (x 3)
Early in the morning!

5. Put him in the scuppers with the hose pipe on him, (x 3)
Early in the morning!

6. Shave his belly with a rusty razor, (x 3)
Early in the morning!

7. Pull out the plug and wet him all over, (x 3)
Early in the morning!



Emotions – part of our free Singing Lessons – Vocal Exercise.

We at Successful Singing have put together lots of Free Vocal Exercises for you to use. Each voice exercise has an image of the scale (sheet music) for you to follow, along with the audio track you can play on-line to sing along to.   You can also purchase the track to put onto CD/computer/mp3 player to use at your convenience.

Each vocal exercise targets a specific area of your voice, and with regular practice will help improve, strengthen and extend your voice.

Please use our other free resources on learning to sing, and articles about your voice.

Free Guide to Mic Technique for Vocals

Mic Technique for Vocalists


This is just a basic guide into microphones.  I’m not an expert on sound, but I hope this will give you an insight about microphones, and how they work.

While most people think that they know how to hold a microphone, I’ve often noticed that when you actually give someone a microphone to sing into, they need to be shown Mic technique as to how it actually works, how to hold it etc, to get the best from it.


How does a microphone work?

Inside the microphone there is a membrane with some wires attached to it.  When you sing into your microphone, the sound waves will hit this membrane, causing it to vibrate.  These vibrations then create a  small electrical current, which travels down the microphone cable and into your mixer/speakers etc, where it is amplified and turned back into a sound wave.

Your microphone will only work when it is plugged into a sound system.


There are several different types of microphones on the market, such as dynamic, condenser, ribbon etc, I’m going to concentrate on the dynamic mic as this tends to be the one that most vocalists use.

A Dynamic Microphone

A dynamic microphone looks something similar to the one in the picture.  A bulbous head which you singing into, with a shaft to hold. Depending on the make of microphone you use, there may be an on/off switch below the head.  The cable is attached to the bottom via a XLR fitting,  or in the case of a wireless microphone, the electrical components and batteries are fitted into the shaft.

The head of the microphone is foam covered grill which acts as a pop-shield (softens the force of air on some of the harder consonant sounds such as B, H, or P).  Some models you can unscrew and replace the head of the microphone if it gets damaged.

Microphone Direction Pick Up

You may also have see the terms directional or omni-directional when looking at microphones.  This basically is how the microphone picks up the sound.  Directional meaning that the sound needs to come from the front of the microphone, Omni-directional, means that the microphone can pick up sound from around the sides of the microphone too.   A quick mention here to about Cardiod .  You often see this term with microphones – basically it means that the pick up area of the microphone is a heart shape.

When you sing or speak, sound is generated from your mouth, so you will need to direct your voice towards the pick-up pattern of your microphone.

Most microphones are designed to be held in a specific way. With the dynamic microphone, you will need to keep your hand away from the grille part of the microphone (as this is where the sound will enter your microphone) and hold the stem firmly. If you hold the grille part of your microphone, you will find that this can cause an increased chance of leading to feedback (that horrible screeching sound from your speakers).

You should aim to hold your microphone horizontally towards your mouth, rather than holding it vertically, where the sound can actually skim over the top of your microphone. If you turn your head when singing, move your arm and take the microphone with you, otherwise you will find the microphone fails to pick you up when you move out of its pick-up pattern. You may possibly find your arm aches from holding your microphone correctly after a while.  Keep swapping arms, or you may find a mic stand helpful.

How far away from your mouth should you hold your microphone?

As a rough guide about 4-6 inches away from your mouth when singing normally, but we need to go back to how a microphone works to get the best from this.

Remember earlier I said about the sound wave hitting this diaphragm inside your microphone to create an electrical current.  The louder you sing, the more forcefully the sound waves will hit this diaphragm, the quieter you sing, the less force it’s got.  So bear this in mind when holding your microphone.  If you’re singing a quiet note, bring your microphone towards your voice, and take your microphone away more if you are singing a loud note.

This also should be applied with frequencies too.  If you sing a low note, the frequency is lower, so bring your mic a little closer. If you’re singing a high note, the frequency is higher, and is able to cut through easier than a lower note, so move your mic a little further away.  Also if you hold your microphone too close to your lips, your lyrics are going to sound muffled.

Oh, some other things I need to mention…

Don’t point the microphone at the monitor or the speakers as this can cause feedback.

Don’t drop or bang your microphone as you can damage the delicate membrane/diaphragm, which converts your voice into an electric signal.

Don’t get your microphone wet, you could receive an electric shock.

Always carry a spare microphone lead as they seem to fail when you least expect it.  If you are using a wireless mic,  carry lots of spare batteries.  Also, it’s a good idea to have a wired mic in your kit bag too, as a back up, just in case your wireless mic fails for any reason.

Wired or Wireless

There are advantages and disadvantages to both wireless and wired microphone systems. Its basically down to user choice.  There is very little difference in audio quality now days between a wired or wireless microphone.   Consider things such as do you need the freedom to move around without being tied to a cable.  Is there a safety hazzard of tripping over the cable etc.

Wireless microphones are more expensive than a wired version. However, you also get the choice of a headset system or a clip on version (which free up your hands)  as well as the traditional handheld version.

Wireless microphones tend to be slightly larger and sometimes heavier than a wired mic.  You may also need to wear a transmitter box on your person.  In the case of a hand-held microphone, the transmitter is fitted into the shaft of your microphone.

Wireless still need batteries to be able to transmit a radio signal from the microphone transmitter to the receiver box, which is plugged into your PA system.  You will need to carry lots of spares.

Wireless microphones work on radio frequencies. Governments around the world, only allow wireless microphones to operate on certain frequencies. Bigger microphone brands such as Shure, Seinheisser, Beyer-Dynamic etc, will have their microphones operating on your particular country’s free legal frequencies, and each microphone usually doesn’t interfere on the exact same frequency. Some of the cheaper wireless microphones available may not be so finely tuned onto that frequency and have been known to pick up interference from passing taxi’s or DJ’s operating in different rooms at the same venue.

More elite wireless microphone systems will require you to buy a special radio licence to operate it on.  Different country have different frequencies available, and can impose heavy fines if these microphones are found to be operating outside that country’s legal frequencies.  These microphones are usually a problem in the realms of the bigger artist.

If you can put up with a cord, wired mics are more simple and reliable. Use the best quality cable and connectors and there rarely is a problem.  If a problem does arise, it is usually fixed by replacing the cable.

Some guidelines about buying a microphone:

Try out several microphones before you commit to buy.  More expensive microphones have bigger frequency pick-up ranges to suit different voices, so try to select the microphone that suits your voice.  When you are trying out microphones, make sure the amplification system is set flat, (eg no extra treble, bass or reverb), so that you can hear the differences between the microphones.

Buy a mic most suited to the physical setting where you will be using the mic, eg don’t buy a recording mic, if you plan to sing live vocals.

Practice with your microphone to find out how to get the best sound from it.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.


You do get what you pay for.  I would suggest looking at what level you are performing at, then buy the best you can afford.

Whatever you decide, a microphone cannot be used to overcome poor singing/speaking technique, just as buying an expensive microphone is not going to make a bad voice sound good.  A microphone will only amplify what sound it receives.





mic technique for vocals

© Successful Singing

Getting Performance Blues

Performance Blues

Getting Performance Blues

Do you love to sing?

When I was younger I loved to sing.  I dreamt of being a famous singer.  I would put on my favourite album and use my hairbrush in front of the mirror.   I finally got myself a vocal coach whose facial expression said it all when I started to sing – this person has got to be kidding me.   However we persevered and as time went on I gradually improved.  I practiced, practiced and practice because I loved singing.

Years later, I’m still singing, but there are times when I get totally fed-up with a piece of music or a particular song.  The one everyone associates with you and wants to hear it, but you feel physically sick even at the thought of having to sing that song one more time.  This is a momentary blip in my love of singing.   Overall, I love the buzz it gives me.   As I start my breathing exercises, I start to feel up lifted and relaxed.  When I sing my songs to an audience I put my heart and soul into it, while watching the audience sing and dancing along as they enjoy themselves.  The buzz I get from that can last for hours.   I want to hold that feeling forever.

But what happens when it all goes wrong.  What happens if you don’t you love to sing anymore?   Is it the physical act of singing you don’t like anymore?   Is it your voice?   Is it the vocal repertoire that you’ve worked on too long?

If it’s the physical act of singing that you have grown tired of, then you have already decided that you don’t care about being a singer anymore, so you may as well quit now – No use prolonging your agony.    This is a very extreme case.  Usually the reasons are far simpler in that you no longer enjoy singing the music that you are expected to sing, or you didn’t realise that you had to work as hard to obtain the level of singing you wanted to achieve.

Well here’s some ideas to help you overcome it:

What you are doing is not a test or exam.  It is a performance.  It is meant to entertain the listeners.  The listeners want to hear you perform. Take a deep breath and give them the performance of your life.

Let the performer in you take over.  Think of each piece you are singing in terms of entertainment value.  Imagine you are singing that song from your heart.   Give it the facial expressions, hand movements (difficult if holding a mic).   Have fun with it.  Use an instrumental break to have fun with your audience – show off and enjoy it.   Imagine yourself as an internationally famous popstar and strut your stuff.  Play up to your audience – they will love it.

Experiment with new ideas as you sing through pieces.  What about speeding it up, slowing it down, different phrasing, emphasizing different words or changing the way the sentence is said.   Tape yourself and listen back to it.  It may work even better than the old way.

Work more on the harder items of your repertoire as these are the ones that you will worry about the most.  That way you’ll be more relaxed when its time to perform them.  This may seem like obvious advice, but there is no need to practice the songs you already sing well many times before your performance.

Think about your theme.  Be creative.  Think about the message you are trying to convey with your selections.  If nothing comes to mind, be imaginative.  This will get you thinking about new ideas for old pieces.

Start looking at new songs or new styles of music.  Find out how you feel when you are singing them.  Could you include them in your repertoire?  Maybe you just need a change of direction.

Get your friends around to listen to your new ideas, new songs, etc.   Listen to what they have to say about it.  Do they think it will work for you.

The worst part of the gig

Unless you are extremely successful and can afford your own roadies, the worst part of the gig is after your performance. You are buzzing after your performance; people are coming up to you to talk to you and making a fuss of you.  Then BUMP, you come back to reality.  It’s late, you are tired and its pouring with rain.  You have to take apart your PA and pack it into your car/van, only to unpack it all when you get home (It’s not advisable to leave your gear in the car/van overnight as it may get stolen or damp).   Every artist says it’s the worst part of the night.

A fellow artist once said to me after hearing me complaint ‘do you love to sing’ ‘Of course’ I replied.

‘You would do it, even without payment’ he questioned

‘Of course’ I replied again.

‘Then you should consider that you get only get paid for setting up and taking apart your gear, and what you do in between – you do for free’

After  a little thought, I realized that he was right.  I have never complained about packing away my gear again.

Singing With An Accompanist

Singing With An Accompanist

Singing with an accompanist

As a singer you may want to seek out an accompanist that you can work with. So here are a few tips to help build a good working relationship with each other.


It is important that you both get along and can work as a team as you may well want them to accompany you at auditions etc, or enlist their help to make rehearsal tapes for you, especially if you don’t play yourself. You accompanist will nurture your singing and if things go well, you may well work together for many years as a successful team.

Provide a Copy of the music

When working with an accompanist, make sure that they have their own copy of the music. They will need to make their own notes and be able to take the music home to practise between rehearsals. Make sure that the copy is clear and if you are taping pages together, do it on the back, leaving the front clear for making notes.

Where to stand

Whilst practicing, don’t stand at their shoulder breathing down their neck. If possible stand in front so that the accompanist can see you. They can then watch you for any subtle cues or see your breath pattern to see when you are about to start each phrase.

What key

An accompanist who can transpose music instantaneously is very rare, however, there are some electric keyboards/pianos which have an inbuilt transposing function which can change key at the press of a button. Decide with your accompanist which key you will be singing in. You may wish to change to one more suitable and easier for you to sing in. however with respect to your pianist, some keys are easier to play in that others, so be prepared to compromise.