Lost Password?

A Whole Palette

     No matter what kind of an artist you are – a soloist, a band, a singer/songwriter, a rock group, a Gospel artist, ….. – you have musical colors to paint with. You may have one instrument (like a keyboard or a guitar) or a whole truckload of instruments. You may be one singer alone or a group with five singers. You might use tracks, you might use a live band.

Band performing live

     Your unique arrangement of instruments, voices, and recorded sounds, give you a full palette of colors. So, painting with those colors is the goal. And how you mix and match them is only limited by your creativity and the amount of colors you have to work with.


     Suppose you’re a keyboard player.

Let me give you a musical thing to do. Say you have a cool melody, you play it on the keyboard, then you stop. You answer back with vocal. Now we have a vocal and musical thing going on. You might do a scat and put it together with the keyboard. The point is, for 45 seconds to a minute and a half – however long you can make it work – you’ve got this cool little thing going on.

     Or, suppose you’ve got this one song, and maybe it’s got a catchy melody or a light lyric. You might get the audience to sing along – an audience participation song. In order to do this, you might have to take one of your songs, rip it apart, and offer it up to the fun gods!

     Another suggestion, and this is for EVERY artist – storytelling. You’ve got to be able to develop this rapport with the audience, especially those of you who are soloists. It’s a part of who you are and it’s a part of your job description. If you are by yourself onstage, you’ve got to learn to be comfortable talking to your audience – whether it’s with storytelling, transitions, or whatever you want to do. And by the way, that’s much easier to learn to do first on a small stage!

     As a soloist you’re a front person. YOU took that job, I didn’t give it to you. And as the quarterback of your team you have to learn certain skills. A front person/soloist/singer-songwriter/band leader/track artist – all of you need to be able to talk to the audience. So you need to work on the fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish with your speaking. How to tell a story, what transitions look like, how to pull an audience participation off – and to get comfortable doing it so it’s a part of your repertoire.

     Here’s another way to change the pressure on the audience: by standing up and walking somewhere else onstage as you tell a story. Walking around onstage might be something you’re not able to do when you play an instrument like the keyboard, but you can certainly do it while you’re talking. Then you go back to the keyboard, sing your song, and you’ve changed the pressure on the audience! What they don’t realize is because you walked over to the other side of the stage, their bodies have moved and changed a little bit, so the show doesn’t seem as long to them.

     You could even walk out into the audience. The point is to get your audience to actually move their bodies. If you stand or sit in one position the whole night, the audience will sit in the same position for a long time, and they won’t even realize that the concert seems long to them because they haven’t moved! But if you change the pressure visually on the audience, they’ll move a little bit and the concert will seem shorter to them.

     You’ve got to think outside the norm, especially when you’re a solo artist – but you still have lots of options and “colors” to paint with!

Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:

Greenroom Comments

  1. For some reason this article made me think of Sir Paul McCartney. He was/is the worst lead man in the greatest band ever. He was constantly being mocked by John during shows throughout their brief live concert years. I suppose the music made his poor live speaking skills forgivable. Thanks Tom!

  2. Thank you, this was very helpful!

  3. Thanks Tom! Love your blogs.
    I sing in small churches, with 1-2 guitars, and often no sound system. I move back and forth across the front of the room, sometimes up the aisle, with a purpose (read and re-read your book), look everyone in the eye for a few seconds multiple times, speak briefly for transitions, and let the songs deliver the message. The cool thing is, sometimes, the audience wants to talk back, to engage in conversation like it’s a Sunday school class. First time it happened, took me by surprise. Takes a lot of courage to join in a conversation, rather than stick to my rehearsed transitions, but it can be a real ‘ministry moment’ or ‘connecting moment’ when it happens. One of the colors on the palette.

Step Up To The Microphone & Leave a Comment