First watch this video. Watch/listen to Peyton’s rendition of his song “All That Matters”. Then read below and we'll address how to sing a song with greater impact.
So how do you sing a song so it has a greater impact on the audience?
The beginner singer (and actor) often thinks that expressing with emotion means to “emote” what the lyrics say. In this case, Peyton’s lyrics say: “When I think of you, it makes me laugh out loud”.
Therefore, the beginner often thinks you should laugh to "illustrate" this, or at least smile. But Peyton doesn’t do that. Why not?
Because that’s not what the text is about.
He’s says: “WHEN I think of you, THEN I laugh out loud.”. That refers to moments in the past.
The present vs. the past.
However, Peyton is not in the past. He is present with us right now.
Do you see the difference?
Then he actually does chuckle, totally spontaneous, because maybe some memory hits him. But he’s still in the present moment with us.
Being vs. illustrating.
So the song is not about illustrating how I laugh when I laugh. The intent of the song is to express the love I have for you right here and now.
The trap of "memory lane".
Singers very often fall into the trap of closing their eyes and going down “memory lane” and try to “emote” the past. That’s not what we do in real life. You don’t have to close your eyes to remember a beautiful moment of the past that you’d like to share with me right here and now.
Peyton's song, and the way he delivers it, is a good example of being present with us here and now, even though he refers to some moments from the past.
And it’s interesting that the very last line is “the only thing that matters is today”.
Why physical freedom is so important.
Now, if our physical voice is restricted, if we feel we have to strain to reach those high notes for example, then that takes us out of the present moment.
Suddenly, the brain is anticipating “here comes the high note”.
Or if the brain reflects on a missed note, then we are in the past.
Whether we anticipate the future or we think of the past, or if our attention turns to physical strain, then we are out of the moment.
And when you’re out of the moment, you become a far less interesting artist/communicator.
At that point, you don't sing your song with the impact you could. You are likely not aware of this, because being able to have this kind of presence is a developed skill.
(At my performance workshops for singers around the world, you learn how we instantly make you more present, charismatic and captivating.)
Muscle isolation skills go hand in hand with becoming more expressive.
So Peyton is a good example of an artist who, however good he already is, constantly works on his instrument and his craft.
He wants to keep the functionality of his voice, keep developing greater and greater muscle isolation skills, so he can be the expressive artist that he wants to be.
He wants to be able to fix his voice on a bad day. He wants to be able to have the skill to prepare for various situations. And he wants to have the skill to use the full dynamics and range of his voice easily so he can focus on the song and the connection with the audience when he performs..
How do you feel when you perform? Is there room for improvement in your voice, in your ability to create a bond with your audience?
What comes to mind when you watch the video and read this article?
Feel free to add a comment below.
Per Bristow is the creator the Sing With Freedom, The Singing Zone, and the Speak With Freedom home study training that singers and speakers in 132 countries use to improve and free their voices and become more confident and influential performers. He does workshops/masterclasses and live events around the world.