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How to Create a “Moment” in Your Live Show

Photo by Pam Samson

You’ve often heard me talk about creating “moments” in your live show!  Creating “moments” is key to having a successful live show and a successful career. 

Many of you have asked: “How do I create “moments” in my live show?” or “How do I find the “moments” in my songs?” 

I have to admit, it’s a lot easier to show you how to find “moments” than it is to tell you.  And…there are so many opportunities for “moments” in a live show I couldn’t possibly describe them all anyway.

What I can do is give you some clues on what goes into creating those “moments”.

Before I do that, I want you to understand what a “moment” is.  It’s that connection with an audience that is emotional – where you “reach them”, “touch them” so they catch a glimpse of who you are…They feel like they know you…The hair on their arms is raised…They “experience” your music, not just “hear” it. 

When you’re driving down the road listening to music on the radio and something touches you – really moves you – it causes you to go buy that CD or download the song.  You want to relive that “moment”.  You want that “moment” at your disposal any time you want.

It’s the same thing with your live show. 

You know those times you’ve played a song, the planets have aligned, you can actually hear the monitors, and after the show people come up and say, “Where’s that song? …that song about that thing?” 

What they’re really asking is, “Where’s that song that made me feel a certain way?”

That’s a “moment”: a moment of emotional connection with your audience!

So how do you create those “moments”?

I will use what I call a “musical moment” as an example.  You’ve heard me say that most audiences are musically ignorant; they don’t understand musical things.  So, you have to make it easy for them to understand and connect with the song.  A simple way to do this is to find something within the song to develop.

Usually I look at the intro, the solos, the bridge, or the outro.  And, to develop it, I might start by stripping a part down to a simple rhythmic or vocal groove.  Then we “invite the audience in” by laying that groove or line down so it’s in its simplest form for the audience to connect to – nothing complicated.

Then you begin to build that section out.  Start layering on top of that simple foundation, and develop it so that the audience can see and experience the process as you build it.

The beauty of this for both audience and artist is that you can build it differently each night if you have the musical skill to do this.  (This is where spontaneity comes in.)  And, if you don’t have the musical skills to do it – if you’re still developing your musical skills – you can still do it.  You just do the musical moment the same way each night, and the audience experiences what they think is spontaneity!

And finally, each “musical moment” needs a payoff.  The payoff is the final outcome, (like the punchline of a joke, the climax of a solo, or the end of a story).  Your musical moments need to reach a climax at the end of the section.  So you need to develop the musical theme, the riff, and the tension, into that payoff for the audience.  Don’t let it just fade away.

There are numerous ways to create “moments”.  I suggest you begin with just one song.  Listen to it over and over, look inside the song for sections to develop, and get creative!

As you spend time working on this, you will find it easier and easier to identify the sections or lyrics or “musical moments” to develop.  It requires taking risks, it takes time, and….that four letter word….WORK!

Just be sure to make those “moments” of connection with your audience.  That’s what makes a great live show!

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.

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