In the era of Zoom, performances look a little different. Preparing for them is a little different too, but ultimately, performing online can be a rewarding way to connect with an audience. Here are our top seven tips to bring the virtual house down with your online performance.
Tip #1: Set the stage. Well before your performance, get your performance space set. If possible, find a spot with plenty of good light where you feel comfortable playing. Get yourself an armless chair and set it up in front of your camera. Test out the camera angle and the look of your “set” by opening Zoom and starting a new meeting. It often works well to have the camera of your device at about eye level, but find a shot that looks good to you.
Tip #2: Check your setup. If you’ll be playing with an accompaniment track, set up speakers and test their volume level to make sure you and your listeners can hear your backing track. Also check your video call settings to make sure they’re optimized for musical merrymaking: on Zoom, you’ll want to enable original sound and disable automatic volume adjustment and background noise cancellation. A quick Google search can guide you through how to adjust these settings.
Tip #3: Be prepared. Practice makes permanent, so practice the way you want to perform. That means first slowing down your tunes and breaking them into small pieces, then working them up so that you can play them solidly and reliably. In addition to this, you should practice “putting on your game face”: each practice session, dedicate time to playing as if you’re performing. No stopping, no fixing. Practice playing the tune as if there were an audience in front of you.
Tip #4: Warm up. The day of your performance, you don’t want to rush to your computer at the last instant and dive in cold. That’s why the last three steps are important: so that the day of your performance, you can dedicate the time beforehand to a thorough warm-up. Your warm-up is a time to prepare physically and mentally, and the best thing to do is to follow the same routine that you do in your practices. This way, your body and your brain will feel at ease because you’re not throwing any curveballs.
Tip #5: Imagine your audience. It’s easy to get caught up in our own self-talk, but when we do, we overlook one of the most important parts of a performance: the audience! The exchange of energy and emotion between the audience and the performer is often what makes a performance special. That connection is not lost on Zoom. Before I perform, I love to think of how the audience will feel during the performance. You’re giving them a gift by playing, and they’ll be so happy and grateful to hear you.
Tip #6: Relax your body. Movement helps get the jitters out. Try doing some stretches that feel good or taking a walk around the block. Another thing that helps me before a performance is to take a minute or so just to focus on taking deep, calming breaths.
Tip #7: Choose good thoughts. Before a performance, there may be a lot going through your head, especially if you’re nervous. Out of everything swirling around in your head, choose to listen to positive, supportive thoughts and let self-doubt go. Those doubtful or negative thoughts have nothing to offer you. Listen to your inner cheerleader instead. You’ve got this!