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Wondering Why You Wander

amy-blog-wonderingwhyyouwanderEver see artists on stage, constantly moving, pacing back and forth across the stage?  Me too…A LOT!

Makes me nervous to watch them because they never seem to ‘land’ anywhere.  It can be frenetic and unnerving.  And if the stage floor is eye level, it’s even worse to watch, since the artist’s feet and legs are right in your line of vision.

Now movement is good.  We teach artists to move around the stage in a natural way – in a way that fits with the music.

For instance, if the music is driving and aggressive, you may be running or skipping to get to another destination on stage.  A bit less aggressive but upbeat music and you might move with what we call ‘walking with authority.’

But there’s such a thing as moving at the wrong times, or having too much movement.  In other words, if I’m watching you and all I’m thinking about is watching your body constantly move, then you’ve failed, and my attention is on the wrong thing.  That’s called misdirection.

So here is a simple 3-part process to make sure your movement is not misdirecting attention to the wrong things, but rather helping your audience ‘see’ the music:

1) Move.  First of all, you move onstage to get to another part of the stage – to get in front of another section of the audience, and to change up what they’re seeing.  Tom Jackson talks about this in his Live Music Method Book, where he says there are 5 places (or destinations) onstage: center, left, right, center left, and center right.  And each of these destinations helps convey a specific visual message to the audience.

2) Plant.  Once you get to another place onstage (a destination), you need to plant yourself and sing/play to the people there.  You want to show the audience you went to that place on purpose, so don’t wander around once you get there!

3) Deliver.  When I say “plant” yourself in that spot, I’m not saying stand like a statue… use your eyes, your arms, and your body to convey the message from that point onstage.  You want to work that area, using angles, hip shifts, cross steps, half steps, etc.  

Then when you finish that particular section of the song – the verse or the chorus or the bridge – move to another part of the stage and sing to those people.

Move/Plant/Deliver. This eliminates wandering.  This gives you authority and makes the audience feel at ease.  This may sound very mechanical now, but once you rehearse this and get comfortable, it will become reflex and will look very normal and natural to your audience.

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. Thanks for this reminder. I use Tom’s book regularly and am.getting ready to introduce a new show further using the techniques I’ve learned.from.backstage Pass and these online tips. I’ll be playing washboard, ukulele for.the.first time in my live show AND we’ll be using a glockenspeil.and.video and.
    my drummer will be singing. Thanks so much for bringing so much excitement back to my music.

  2. It’s very distracting and annoying to see people wander because they feel they have to “do something” and move at all times to be entertaining, and do so without intention or authenticity.
    Great article !

    • Yes France, this is a common misconception among lead singers…that they always have to be DOING something. You don’t! In fact, if you’re drawing too much attention dancing around or whatever during the guitar solo, that’s misdirection. The audience will miss the beauty of the solo because the singer drew all the attention!

  3. Robby Norris says:

    I have an All Roads DVD addressing this topic. My question is-what about the other songs on your set list, aren’t the moves going to replicate over and over again? How do you determine if every tune dictates that much travel?



    • Good question Robby…you definately will not be moving to the same places, in the same way on every song.Or SHOULDN’T be, I should say. Some songs you’ll leave the mic in the stand, or sitting on a stool. Some songs call for more interaction within the band…or maybe you’re behind the piano or guitar. The point is, WHEN you move, do it with INTENTION. It should tell the audience, ‘I’m coming over to your side of the stage so I can intereact with the people over there’. You’re hanging out there for a bit instead of just teasing them by pacing by. And you may not go to every one of the five points on stage, every time you move…those are just good ‘landing spots’. Hope this makes sense! Thanks for the question.

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