Principles of an Artistic Performance


What is an Artistic Performance…

There are three types of performances that are not artistic…

  1. A Concert - The singers are just singing, and the audience is just listening.
    A very limited or indirect attempt is made by the singer to connect with the audience.
  2. An Energized Performance - "Singing with energy"
    The performer sings with energy, confidence, adopts a charismatic persona, etc…
    While there is some desire here for the performer to connect with the audience, the performer
    does not realize that they must also connect the audience to the experiences in the song.
  3. A Skilful Performance - "A skilful demonstration of the craft"
    While this may be impressive, there is separation between the audience and the performer.
In all three of the above…
  • The audience is aware that they are at a performance.
  • The audience is objective, and can put into words what they liked and didn't like about your performance, because they were conscious during the performance.
  • "Conscious" means that their minds were in the same location as their bodies while you were singing.

The Artistic Performance…

The audience is moved to a place where they are not aware that they are at a performance.
The audience finds it difficult to put their experience of your performance into words, because they were not conscious during the performance.
"Not conscious" means that their minds were not in the same location as their bodies while you were singing. There audience identifies with, and is connected with the performer.
Think of your experience when you are watching a quality movie or play…
… you get lost in it, you feel like you are a part of it, you react emotionally, physically, and visually to it.
The Artistic Goal: To give the audience the, "Out of Body Experience!".
This is the deeper definition of "Entertainment".

How to Achieve an Artistic Performance?

  1. Review the lyrics of the song to determine your role in performing the song.

    Do the lyrics call you to be The Actor, The Story Teller, or Narrator?

    In Actor Mode:

  • You are expressing your thoughts and feelings.
  • Your performance mode is similar to portraying a part in a play, and the lyrics of the song are your "lines".
  • Your delivery and energy is typically more personal, from the heart, and frequently in first person.

In Story Teller or Narrator Mode:

  • You are describing a person, place, or event.
  • Your delivery is more objective and animated, and typically in third person.
  • Narrator mode is a bit more objective and detached than Story Teller mode.
  1. Review the music and the lyrics of each song, and identify the emotional, visual, and physical experiences that are being referenced in the song.
  2. Use your "expressers", which are your eyes, face, vocal tone and inflection, and body positioning and movement to create the above referenced experiences and reactions in the audience.
    Also use your "expressers" to communicate and establish your role as Actor or Story Teller.
  3. In addition to your portrayal of your role in the song, "invite" the audience to join you in the experiences being referenced in the song.
    "If you invite them, they will come."
  4. Make it your overall mission to be an artistic performer, i.e. to create the above described artistic experience in the audience with every song you sing.

The Relationship Between the Song, the Performer, and the Audience…

Referenced Experience in The Song The Performer's "Expresser" The Audience Experience and Reaction
Visual Face and eyes Visual
Emotional Vocal Tone and Inflection Emotional
Physical Body Positioning and Movement Physical
For example… Use your Face and Eyes to communicate the Visual Experiences that are referenced in the song to the audience. Your goal is to get the audience to visualize what you are describing.

Songs can have one or more referenced experiences, and your role can change within the song…

Look for changes in the referenced experiences, or a change in your role, between the verse and the chorus, between phrases, and even within phrases.

Reflect these changes with the compatible changes in your Expressers.

The Consistency, Reinforcement and Coherence of the Performer's Expressers…

Consistency: The voice, face, and body must be in character and active throughout the song.

Reinforcement: The voice, face, or body can influence the involvement of each other.

Coherence: Throughout the song, the voice, face, and body must express the same concept, emotion, etc.
If one of the elements drops out, the inconsistent element will come to the attention of the audience.

"What You Think is What They Sense"

If you are engaged with the song, portray and express what is called for by the song, and invite the audience to join you, they will sense this, and accept your invitation to join you in the experience.

If you are thinking about what you are supposed to be doing (notes, words, choreo, etc.), you will reflect this in your voice, face, eyes, or body, and this will sensed by, and become the experience of the audience. When this happens, the audience will observe that you are "trying", and will then disengage from your performance, and begin to evaluate how well you are succeeding in your "task of trying".

If your facial or body expression becomes less than or distinctly different than that the others in the group, your inconsistency will drawn the attention of the audience, and they will watch you - for the wrong reasons.


Be aware of strict literal interpretations of the lyrics in identifying your roles or the experiences in the song. At times this may not lead to the most effective performance.

Be willing to use performance devices, or tweak your role or your artistic concepts in order to make your performance clear and impactful for the audience. 

Note the difference between…

The Choreography - It is the visual plan - the packaging.

The Artistic Performance - It's what is inside the package.

Together they are a "gift" that you give to your audience.

Focal Point - For Performance in a Chorus…

In Actor Mode: Make the director the person to whom you are expression your thoughts and feelings.

In Story Teller Mode: Make the director the person to whom you are describing and telling the story.

The audience will sense this connection, leave their bodies, and become a part of the connection.

Focal Point - For Performance in a Quartet

Do what is described in the paragraph just above, using members of the audience as your focal point.
If you can't see the audience because of the lighting, you must create the impression that you can see them.

Three Types of Performance Eyes…

Depending on the text of the song, use the following to guide the depth and breadth of the focus of your eyes.
If your role or point of view in the song is…

  1. A One-on-One Direct Conversation or Communication - Eyes are Most Focused - Least Breadth
  2. Directed to a Small Group - Eyes are Medium Focus, and Medium Breadth
  3. Directed to a Large Group - Eyes are Least Focused and Most Breadth

In Chorus: Even though you are looking at the director, let your eyes change and express per the above guide.
In Quartet: Sing to the audience, using the above guide for the expression in your eyes.

Transitions Between Songs - Start Performing Each Song Before You Sing It…

Start to transition yourself into the Actor or Story Teller Role at the peak of the applause for the initial introduction of the group, or the previous song.
Perform, enjoy, and deepen your connection with your role, the mood of the song, and the director (in chorus) during the time between the pitch pipe and the first chord.
This will provide both you and the audience with the time required to make the transition, and establish focus.
The goal is for you and the audience to be in the mental and emotional place of the song before you start to sing.

Your Connection With, and Invitation To the Audience Begins…

… when they first see you - or better yet, when you are behind the curtain.


You will sing better when you sing artistically.
The artistic involvement will provide you with purpose when you sing, and energize your vocal execution abilities.
The artistic elements feed one another and the song develops "on its own", and without your effort.

In Rehearsal…

Always give a "mini-performance" when learning music, or when working on vocal techniques, and craft.
Integrate at least one artistic performance element when you are learning or technical mode.
This will provide you with some inspiration and energy when you are "doing the work", and will help you make singing with artistry and expression your default mode of singing.

Enjoy - We have one of the best hobbies - ever!