“Masterful performers exhibit ease in all that they do on stage.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 21
There’s no better way for us musicians to make our audiences receptive than to project ease and enjoyment from the stage.
What’s more, by embodying ease, we help dispel any nerves.
To transmit ease, though, we have to not only master our material and be fluent with stage deportment but also draw on the following 6 inner skills.
1. Be Positive
Always bring a positive attitude to the stage. If your dressing is room frigid, project warmth. If you’re having a rough day, be grateful for the power of music. Throughout a performance, let your audience know by your phrasing, words, and body language that there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
2. Lengthen and Release
Audiences detect our feelings via physical cues. Added to that, our movement habits impact our emotions and technical ease. By deliberately lengthening our spine and freeing our muscles on stage, we generate positive energy, facilitate playing or singing, and convey an assured stage presence.
As an illustration of how our muscular actions impact our emotions, try this: Raise and hold your shoulders, and then attempt to take on a calm frame of mind. Doesn’t work, does it? Now, release your shoulders and note how your mindset transforms. It’s crucial, therefore, that we reinforce easeful habits in practice as well as on stage.
3. Expand your Focus
When we’re stressed, we unconsciously tend to narrow our attention. To counteract this tendency, we should employ an expansive focus as we perform, hearing, feeling, and thinking ahead as we send each emotion-laden phrase washing over our listeners.
4. Lighten your Touch
Technical freedom comes from allowing rather than forcing. When you’re on stage, trust in your preparation. As you get louder, for example, get looser. Foster a sense of lightness in everything you do.
5. Support Coperformers
Encourage easefulness and creativity in your group by steadfastly sending positive energy to your fellow musicians. Even if things get rocky, be musically and emotionally supportive so that your musical message stays vibrant.
6. Celebrate the Moment
We performers have special relationships with music, and listeners crave chances to hear what we’re up to. With that in mind, every second that you’re under the lights, be a beacon of soulfulness, a fountain of imagination. Celebrate your role as a performing artist, and your listeners will be carried along in your wake.
Concepts for creating ease are covered in unprecedented detail throughout my book The Musician’s Way. See Part I, “Artful Practice,” and Part II, “Fearless Performance.”
© 2010 Gerald Klickstein