I've just finished watching what's probably the most viewed annual musical performances in the world - the Superbowl Half-Time Show! This year featured Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who can now claim their place on a very exclusive club of performers who have played at the Superbowl. With a performance by two headliners, it's always going to be a balancing act of how to structure the show to make sure that each performer gets to present themselves to the world in the best possible light. With that in mind, here's my key takeaway from watching the performance.
I think the best performers and performances are able to create a sense of unity and flow, so that the audience is brought along on a journey. As I watched the Shakira half of the performance, there were a number of occasions where the cuts between songs were very jarring, almost like you had an impatient passenger in your car who insisted on changing the radio every 20 seconds. Just as I was getting in to the groove of one song, it would change! This left me feeling a little frustrated as an audience member, as there's only so many surprises that I'll enjoy before it feels like I'm being left out of the performance.
This is something you can consider as you work on your pieces and develop arrangements - how can you walk that line of being engaging and creating contrast and flow without alienating your audience? Well, firstly you need to be in total control as a performer. If you're reacting to things as they arise rather than playing to a plan, it'll likely be a surprise to you as well! Secondly, give your audience some directions. As you move to finish the piece, you might start to slow down a little bit, and then a lot, as a very obvious way to tell the audience when to clap.
This is why one of the most important things you can practise is to keep playing when you make mistakes - people are usually far less interested in how technically correct something was, and more about how things made them feel. If it feels disjointed to the audience, it's a bigger mistake than a wrong note.
If you'd like to learn more about how to develop your arrangements and performances to master this sense of flow, you might be interested in learning more about classes in Performance Craft.
A big welcome to some new students who have come on board over the last couple of weeks: Louis has his first lesson this week, Alex has his second, and they join the crew of Dominic, Miranda, Alice, Elizabeth and Min who have all started lessons this year. It's great to have you all on board, and you're all making me a very busy teacher!
Things I've been watching/listening to this week: