Post Gig Reflections
By Greg van Bergen. Originally published August 31, 2018 on VocalFoundations.com.au. Reposted with permission.
I’ve just finished a performance and a few days have past. Here are the things I did pre and post gig to set myself up for success.
It’s been quite a while since the last time I performed and sung to a paying audience. 4 Years to be blunt. I sing front of people all the time. I work as a vocal coach in my business Vocal Foundations. My job involves demonstrating the various changes the larynx can do in order to create a wide variety of qualities for my clients. So, 6 days ago I performed in a cabaret show called “Too Lucky” to a 150+ paying audience. I’m not going to lie but I was nervous leading up to the day.
I became a little sick in the week leading up to the show. My voice was rough and would completely disappear in parts of my range. GASP! Yes, this is the worry for any performer leading up to a gig. Rather than freaking out, I leaned into my training to help remediate my voice in this time of trouble. Thankfully my background in the Estill Voice Training model proved very beneficial in knowing what I could do. I spent a lot of time away from the songs I needed to sing in the show and focused on stretching my vocal folds, producing a clean and very quiet tone. Over the next few days the swelling of my vocal folds decreased and if anything by showtime, my voice was feeling and sounding better than ever. Who would have thought regular and very focused training would provide positive results (wink, wink)?
Along with my training, I paid more attention to my mindset by meditating and journaling. I also ate better, slept better and treated my body probably the best it has been treated in a long time. And I felt good! Your body IS your instrument. Treat it well and it will serve you well. This is important.
The gig went really well. It was produced by Vocal Foundations and the cast and crew were all people I trusted on a personal and professional level. The show itself featured my close friend (and client) Amy in a “one woman” show along with 3 special guest appearances, myself being one of them.
The evening went almost without mistakes or dramas. The only one was I didn’t have my microphone turned on when I went on stage to sing. This was a rookie mistake. I thought I would preserve battery power. Well, it took me about 1 minute before working out that it was me who screwed up. Very early on in my singing / performing career I would not have handled this situation very well. I would have stewed over it for days, possibly even weeks after the event. I would have felt embarrassed and foolish in front of the crowd. But surprisingly I was at ease, and I remember thinking to myself onstage, “Look how calm I am!”. This was a ground-breaking discovery.
Trust and Experience
I put this ease and comfort down to these two words: trust and experience. I went into this show knowing I could trust the entire cast and the crew to have my back, and I would have theirs. We have all also had many years of experience performing in front of audiences. You don’t gain this type of experience by singing at home. All four of us have failed majorly in front of audiences before. And yes, it really hurts. But from these experiences along with many positive ones, you start to see patterns. You can predict more things than you could before, even to how the audience will react if something goes wrong. And with that prediction comes ease and comfort. But the most important and obvious part is that you need to know your stuff… backwards.
Reviewing After the Gig
Video or record your gig and watch/listen to it back. If you don’t like doing that… suck it up and get used to it. This information is valuable! This is where you can see areas you can improve next performance. For me, I noticed my vocal quality was as I planned. I’m really happy about this. The technique within the set-up of my larynx is how I had planned. What I did notice is that my pitch occasionally wasn’t quite on the mark. I believe this is mainly due to a lack of “slow practice” with each song. So, in the future, I am going to spend more time observing and practicing the intervals within the songs I sing. Perhaps spending even more time with scales (not my favorite thing to do). I would not have this information without a recording.
To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed performing and it helped me realize what started my whole journey as a vocal coach in the first place. Now it’s time to head to my piano and start practicing again.
About the Author
Greg van Bergen is a specialist vocal trainer and performance coach based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the founder of Vocal Foundations, offering specialized technical training for singer-songwriters and vocalists. He holds an Estill Figure Proficiency certificate and is a member of the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing.