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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…

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.

Inside the microphone there is a membrane with some wires attached to it.  When you sing into your microphone, your sound waves will hit this membrane and turn them into an electrical current.  This current then can travel down the microphone cable and into your mixer/speakers etc.

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

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 our 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 soundwaves 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, the lyrics are going to sound muffled.

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.

Some guidelines about buying a microphone:

Try out several microphones before you commit to buy.  More expensive microphones have bigger frequency ranges to suit different vioces, 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.

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 can let you down when you least expect it.

Wired or Wireless- I’ll leave that down to your own personal choice.

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.

Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Overcoming 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… We’ve all been there.

We all have different personalities; maybe you are shy, maybe your worried that the audience wont like you, but you just love singing. At some point in time, you may find you have to sing in front of an audience (no matter how big or small)

Breathing is critical.  It’s natural to start breathing faster when we are anxious.  If you don’t get your breath under control, you are going to start your songs  sounding squeaky and breathless.  Just concentrate for a few minutes before you start singing on taking deep breaths.

Try (slowly) Breath in 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   Breath our 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Smile as you take your place, but keep breathing!   As your music starts, count your breath in time with the music before you actually start to sing.

Know your basic techniques. Once you hit the performance stage, very little of your energy should focus on the mechanics of singing.  It should be second nature to you, leaving you to concentrate on the deliverance of the song and your lyrics, so make sure you know your song inside out and feel confident that you can perform it well.   You may find it helpful to lose yourself completely in your song, feel the music, feel the emotion, and try to convey that across to your audience.    You may find it helpful to move around or gesticulate.  Sway your hips from side to side, in time with your music and feel that tension ease.

Shut your eyes if the thought of looking at your audience terrifies you, but watch you don’t trip over, or perhaps focus on a point slightly above your audience so that you don’t actually look at them, but it will appear that you are.

Stressful situation will make your mouth feel dry.  If you are prone to this, keep a glass of water handy and swill it around your mouth.  Pop a lozenge in your mouth, to stimulate saliva. These will also help if the atmosphere is dry and smoky.

Try not to rely too heavily on Dutch Courage, you may lose your inhibitions, but too many and you may end up giving a performance that you would rather forget

What if I forget the lyrics

Try to know your song inside out, so that if you do lose your way you can find your place as quickly as possible.  There’s a helpful article here if you forget your lyric, but try to sing something – anything, rather than stop dead. That’s only going to draw attention to yourself and make you more flustered.

Concentrate on your performance.  Don’t get easily distracted or put off by anything.  Stay focused, because as soon as your mind wanders, you’ve lost control and therefore lost your grip on your audience.

Generally audiences are very forgiving, and will appreciate you are nervous. Once you have sung a song or two you realise that your audience isn’t going to eat you, you will start to relax, and enjoy yourself