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Play the Pauses

So many times when I hear artists perform, I feel like they’re rushing me through the song. There’s no room for me to soak in what I’ve just heard…no room to breathe!

Just like pauses in a speech or in comedy are effective, so goes it in music. Sometimes you just want to ‘hang’ a bit – especially since we’re hearing your songs (in many cases) for the first time. This video gives you an idea of how to utilize pauses to let your lyric really sink in.

Amy worked with Tyler Deveau on his cover of “Bounty” by Dean Brody. This song is a story, which makes it even more important to understand the lyrics. Adding pauses to the intro of the song can increase the audience’s understanding of the lyrics, as well as make the performance feel less rigid and more emotional.

You can watch Tyler Deveau perform the song twice, once for the first time with this concept. Playing the pauses can really add emotion and enhance the audience’s experience with the song. You want to draw your audience in as much as possible, so keep them hanging on the pauses!

Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Just like Boot Camp, you’re working the magic! Fun to watch, Amy…thanks for sharing it. Still learning both as a performer and as a coach how to find and “inhabit” those moments that NEED to breathe. And once we find them, to practice the pause (or the gesture, whatever) so that it’s second nature.

    • The tough thing for artists sometimes, is relaxing in those spaces and not getting too anxious. When I work on leaving space in rehearsals, I’m constantly holding singers back from rushing through. It’s uncomfortable but one needs to relax. Takes guts and confidence 🙂

  2. This video blog i very timely for me. I was working on a song earlier today doing something similar, but now I have even more insight on how to do a song like this. Thanks for the info.

  3. You’re so right, Amy. Tyler could have even squeezed longer pauses in there, of varying lengths. That intro screams for variations in pauses, and the song itself screams for further playing with timing on a more micro level.

    As an aside, I’ve learned that music and singing is all about playing the silence (pauses) in between the notes. The good musicians/singers sing and play on pitch and on meter. The truly great ones know the rules of timing and then break them by playing the pauses according to their personality (their “spirit”) and what they bring emotionally to the song.

    For me, it’s all about playing the “holes” in-between the notes. The rules of timing are essential for learning music, but once mastered those rules become a hindrance to greatness. Every great artist has learned to use the rules as a platform from which to launch into what can be a stunning performance.

    Kudos to Tyler for working with those pauses and for his willingness to try that which may not come naturally, and kudos to Amy for pointing out such a critically important point about playing the pauses and not rushing the song.

    • Well said Brian, and thanks! Tom and I just had a conversation with Erik Halbig (songwriter and former guitarist for Thompson Square, Sugarland, Sara Evans, etc.) about how many times we feel rushed when listening to songs. So many times I want to just ‘soak’ in the phrase or riff or whatever, I just heard, and not feel pushed past it too quickly. Erik said since sitting in our Live Music Producing sessions with Thompson Square, he’s approaching his songwriting differently now, to build in those type of moments!

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