Singing Performance: Exploring Story and Physicality Part 2

In this video, Steven takes us through a private coaching session with Sabrina Miller.

Sabrina is obviously a wonderfully talented and experienced singer. The exciting thing is to realize that even for someone as accomplished as she is, there is always further to go and more to discover.

Here are some of the interesting things to note:

By Rote or Alive Here and Now…

In the first run through of her song, everything goes smoothly for Sabrina. After Steven works with her a bit on the story that the lyrics tell, she unexpectedly forgets the words.

This happens to everyone. Sometimes it can be lack of preparation. Not the case with Sabrina. It’s a very common occurrence when people break free from a rote pattern of singing “words” and instead become vividly aware of what they are saying at each moment of the song. Now that they are singing thought to thought, they realize they don’t actually know what thought follows the one before. Additionally they get so impacted by the intensity of “meaning what they say,” that they forget where they are. However, when the character’s circumstances become fully alive within them, and they move along the journey of the next thing they, as the character, are compelled to communicate, it pulls the singer along in an almost transcendent way. It provides a powerful focus.

Finding an Entry Point…

What you need to identify is the overall moment of where you are at the top of the song. Although you must clearly understand the first words you say and be able to say them like you mean them, they don’t exist in a vacuum. You must also understand the emotional context that you begin the song within. In the video example, the entry point could be summed up in the phrase ‘I’ve had enough, I’ve reached my limit, I have nowhere to go, I have reached my breaking point’. Any one of those things can be the phrase that you focus on and the emotional state that you drop into while the intro to your song is playing, so that by the time you sing the first line you are already exactly where you need to be. And that is what I call the entry point.

Having a rich inner life…

We have a tradition of ‘musical theatre movement’ which can be a habit worth breaking. It can lead very easily to “performing the song” rather than “expressing and communicating” what’s in the song. One way to let that go is to paraphrase the words. Tell yourself the story in your own words. Bring in detail and depth and intensify the degree of how much everything matters to your character. Once you understand what is happening and then apply that inner life to the song, each moment is naturally affected. And when you are involved to that level, you will stop “doing” movements and start “moving like a real human being.”

Adding physicality…

Don’t be afraid to move. Allow yourself to express physically in extreme ways. You can always pull it back. Only truly masterful performers really release themselves and play freely.

Always stay with what is really happening in the story. Be confident about what you are saying and know that for you as the character, it is true!