What happens when you play a song? Are you just playing the chords, singing the melody? Are you repeating a structure you practiced over and over again? Do the words mean anything in the moment? Do the chords mean anything? Or are you just concentrating in getting through to the next one without messing it up? You are on a path to becoming a great artist, or at least I hope you are. But do you ever feel disconnected from the music when the pressures of live situation kicks in?
How do you feel the song? I think that is a question every performer should be asking them selves from time to time. Yes it can become a routine, and you just deliver it, but that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about that magical component, which lets you build a connection between you and your audience. I am talking about how you can make them feel like you are singing just to them.
Right off the bat, I must tell you that even for the best of them out there, there are situations where this just is not possible. Bar full of drunken people who have no interest in the band playing in the room is too common experience for many of us. But it does not mean you should not try. If ninety-nine people are singing a football chant over your song, but you still manage to touch one person in the audience, you are doing something great. It might not feel like it to you in the moment though…
The warriors of the music industry, that keeps playing night after night in bars, coffee houses, small clubs to crowds who might or not know them, do amazing job. They get up and do their damn best to make you feel something, to lift you away from your world of troubles just for a few minutes. They try their best to connect with you. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it does not. Sure there are some out there that just deliver a song without any feeling, but just because some do, it does not mean most of us don’t put a lot more in to the songs.
I play regular shows here in Dublin, if I am not on tour or otherwise traveling. It is the same venue week after week. I know how the sound system works in my sleep, I know where I stand, how quickly I can set up my gear. You could say there is an element of routine in it. But still every night I get up on that stage, I try to deliver the best possible experience for the audience. If I had a bad day, that does not come in to it. I need to check out my personal stuff before I get up on the stage. For the duration of the show I try to open my heart to the audience, let them in to my world of music. Some nights it does not work (luckily they are rare), most nights it works well and you feel a connection with the audience. On occasion you make a big impact on someone and those are the moment I work hard for. That can only happen when I feel the songs, when I am in the music and the audience feels that as well.
It took me a long time to learn, and still I do not understand it, or would I be able to tell someone how to do it. But it all comes down to putting in the hours. Learning your craft, playing hundreds, if not thousands of shows. Making sure you know your instrument well enough that you can concentrate in feeling the song, rather than delivering it. There are no short cuts.
The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE