Connecting with Audiences

Saxophonist performs with bassist in background“The performers who connect from the stage establish emotional relationships with their audiences.”
-The Musician’s Way, p. 188

What endows a performance with the power to stir listeners’ hearts? At a minimum, a spellbinding concert melds first-rate repertoire, prepared musicians, and a favorable setting.

If you peel back those layers, though, I think you’ll find a single factor at the core of any gripping performance:

Relationship. The performers who connect from the stage establish emotional relationships with their audiences.

And those relationships are based on one thing: giving. In a concert, performers give and listeners receive, and their mutual interaction lifts them all to a higher plane.

The Gift of Music
Whenever you give to someone, whether your offering is a song or something surrounded by gift-wrapping, the significance of your gift derives more from the spirit in which it’s given that from the item in the wrapping paper.

In performance, if you withhold this giving of yourself, or if your gift of music isn’t heartfelt, then it should come as no surprise when your audience withholds, too.

To connect, you have to be eager to share your music with others and also believe in your ability to perform that music meaningfully.

Many musicians, however, find the responsibility of preparing a concert gift overwhelming. They may have unresolved fears, not know how to fashion interpretations, or lack performance skills.

Or they may pick music that’s beyond their capacities, and then they can’t be secure on stage.

Giving from the Heart
The choosing of unattainable music is a form of vanity that corrupts the spirit of giving.

Aspiring musicians who want to perform nothing but the hardest pieces are either looking to show off or to live in fantasy worlds. Either way, their selfishness doesn’t endear them to listeners.

To be openhearted on stage, you must choose material that’s within your reach.

Then, instead of trying to have the flashiest prize in your gift box, you put forward the most artistic present you can.

Generosity and Authenticity
Although your generosity begins with the music that you select and continues with thorough preparation, your gift will be appreciated only if you uphold that generous attitude on stage.

As you perform, radiate the character of a composition.

If a piece is about love, be in love; if it’s about joy, emanate joy.

And if things get rocky – maybe you drop a few notes, a coperformer misses an entrance, or some listeners start coughing loudly – stay positive and engaged, and give your audience the best possible experience.

See The Musician’s Way for far-reaching strategies that instill artistry in practice and performance.

Related posts
7 Essentials of Artistic Interpretation
Assessing Your Performance Skills
Becoming a Confident Performer
Choosing Repertoire

© 2014 Gerald Klickstein
Adapted from pages 188-189 of The Musician’s Way
Photo © bikeriderlondon, licensed from Shutterstock.com

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3 Responses to “Connecting with Audiences”

  1. Natalie Grimes said:

    Mar 05, 14 at 08:06

    This is a beautiful description of meaningful performance. I’m inspired!

  2. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Mar 05, 14 at 09:47

    Thanks, Natalie – I hope you’ll share your musical inspiration far and wide!

  3. darcy said:

    Apr 26, 14 at 11:41

    You are so right! That projection of feeling is what your audience is seeking. I believe absolute sincerity is crucial. When you are conveying those feelings in your song, it projects on the hearts of your listeners, not only by your vocal expressions but in your body language. You need to make them believe in that moment, they are experiencing those very feelings you are trying to share.
    I believe that absolute sincerity is above all the key to connecting with your audience. People want to feel those feelings you have the privilege of creating in your music, whether through your singing or how you move your body. So often musicians can become stale from boredom, but once that level of competence is achieved, that’s when you can more concentrate on your approach, and have fun with it! Thanks for the article!