Christmas in Ghana is ‘cocoa season’ for some artists; a time to reap from the hard work, dedication and commitment they put in making their music and brand attractive throughout the year. It is a given that event planners utilize Christmas holidays to try and cash in with a plethora of events, splattered across the regions of Ghana and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the many Christmas events are the musicians, who get to mount the stage a couple of times during the period. For some artists, they get to perform on all the shows from 16th December, all the way to 1st January.
Unfortunately, over the period, artists have become extremely dreary and lackluster on stage during events slated for Christmas. Same old song selection, dance routine and galling stagecraft are replicated by some of these artists on almost all the events.
This year, something’s got to change and for the better. Artists must improve, and for the lucky ones would be performing on almost every event – they need to step up and here, I present tips on how they can have a memorable Christmas in terms of performances;
Stage fright is a normal phenomenon – every artist faces it in different ways, so, it is important as an artist, you don’t take yourself too seriously before hitting the stage. Focus more on having a good time with your audience rather than trying to impress them. Some artists use relaxation techniques like meditation, body stretches and breathing exercises to curb their pre-show jitters.
Humor can also help relieve tension. Science says laughter increases your intake of oxygen, releases endorphins in the brain, and aids in muscle relaxation. Not only does it have physical benefits, but humor also keeps you from taking things too seriously—a relief from toxically over-analyzing a situation.
While waiting to hit the stage, you can listen to tapes of your favorite standup comedian, play tricks or share jokes with your team or band members. Whatever it takes to make you giggle – do it and laughter is the best medicine.
Practice – Know The Music Inside And Out
The more comfortable you feel on stage, the better you will be able to truly get into your character’s mind, helping you give a better, more convincing performance. This comfort level can only come with feeling completely confident in your ability to nail every line, hit every note, and know your role inside and out.
To reach this level, of course, requires as much practice as possible. Become as comfortable as possible with not only every element of your performance, but with simply performing in front of an audience as well
Before any performance, your music should be practiced to the point that you no longer consciously think of individual notes or chords.
Use The Stage
The stage was made for you, so move around; let different parts of the crowd get to see you. Feel free to jump up on the monitor if there’s one. Don’t stay in one spot the entire gig. Even the likes of Nana Ampadu, A.B Crenstil and Amakye Dede, at this stage of their respective ages, move on stage.
Some Ghanaian artists have developed the unprofessional habit of flooding the stage with their hangers-on and members of entourage, making the stage extremely small and difficult to maneuver – all to the disadvantage of the artist.
Movement on the stage gives the eye something to follow, if the ear is tiring of following the music and how you move onstage affects your audience’s emotions, or at least, their interest.
Make Audience The Priority
From the second that spotlight shines down on you, it’s all about your audience and how you make them feel. What can you do to bring their innermost emotions to life with your sound? What can you awaken inside them with an honest performance through a lyrical portrayal of your genuine life experiences? What can you physically do to make sure that their eyes don’t come off of you for a second, even in a society polluted with handheld technological gadgets?
It’s your responsibility as a performer to give your audience the gift of transporting them somewhere else for the full three minutes and 32 seconds of your song.
Communicate, Dance, Get Active
Some artists are naturally boring, there’s little they can do to alter that trait, but there’s everything they can do to make their appearance on stage exciting.
Communicating with the audience could help compliment the stagecraft; speaking and interacting with the crowd in-between songs without making it drag or making the chat unnecessarily jarring. Keep it concise and interesting!
If you suck as a dancer, contract backing dancers. It is important to divert attention from your boring self to the dancers and it won’t hurt, if you are able to strike one or two dance moves with the dancers.
It is also permissible to give some minutes to the dancers to take some shine, by standing aside and letting them move. After all, it will be recorded as part of your performance.
Give The Crowd What They Want & Have Fun
People don’t flip the channel or spend their hard-earned money for great seats at a concert to see something they can view at a middle school talent show. Great performers don’t second-guess their performances or let their nerves take over; they know what the audience wants, and are damn well ready to give it to them.
You need to outwardly love what you do and feel the music in your body. You need to flaunt the talent you’ve worked years and years to hone and show off that perfected microphone stand trick, funky dance move, or upside-down and backwards guitar lick you’ve been practicing for months. Give the people what they came to see and then some.
Don’t Repeat Performances
This goes to artists who are booked for every event this Christmas. Mind you, the same crowd will represent in almost all these shows, so, it is important you have different stagecraft for different outings and give them a reason to buy tickets for different shows, just to see you! Play your heart out on every stage, but know the kind of event, the type of audience that would be present, then match the performance to the crowd.
For an event, if their energy is high still throw yourselves around if that’s your thing. If they’re more into sitting down and focusing on the music and musicianship then tone down the antics and ensure your playing is flawless. Great live performers know that one size performance does not fit all.
Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com