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A Day in the Life (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

A Day in the Life

Mark Brings us Lesson 17 today to explain the preparation that goes into a performance. Mark tracks back up to 36 hours in advance, and shows us some routines to prepare for a great show.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Guitar Performance seriesLength: 19:09Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:19) A Day in the Life Review
1. Warm-up the body.
2. Single note hum.
3. Three note hum.
4. Hum "me-me-me-me" to "mah-mah-mah-mah" to "me-ma-me-ma" to "mo-mo-mo-mo."
5. Wake up the breath with "sah-sah-sah" long and sutained then five times staccato.
6. "Sah" in five note descending scales then five note ascending scales
7. Start softly with each. Then, gradually get louder and louder, faster and faster until you reach the volume and speed that you feel you will be using during the performance.
8. Practice singing along with guitar rhythms that you’ve been using in the last few lessons or with material that you’ve discovered on your own and apply the steps listed above to your playing.
9. Relax and enjoy!

I'm hoping that you've noticed a couple of changes in the review section, the last of which is to relax and enjoy the process of both warming-up and performing. Many people are so stressed out with the entire process and fearful of the performance itself that they forget that the ultimate goal is really just to have fun and impart that enjoyment to your audience, whether it be your little ol' Granny or tens of thousands of screaming adoring fans. Also, I want to point out that the warm-up should happen gradually. Don't rush through it. Rather, pay attention to how your voice sounds/feels and progress through the steps as a function of that.

A Day in the Life (of a Singer)

We've talked extensively about the importance of stretching the body, warming the voice and general healthy practices of the aspiring singer, right? Now, I want to give you a brief outline of what a 24 hour period before a performance could look like from the perspective of a performer, me! This is based on years and years of performance experience and a routine that I’ve found to be thorough and effective. The period of time that I will be examining will be mid-day the day before the performance to the evening of so, a little more than 24 hours, but work with me, would you people! Ready? Here we go!
Chapter 2: (11:52) Preparation Noon (day before)

I thoroughly stretch my body, especially the neck, shoulders, hamstrings, and back. If I happen to have the day off or some time during work, I try to work out, especially the cardiovascular system. I try to get my work out in a day before the day of the performance, because this gives the body a chance to bounce back from the strain that can result from a strenuous workout. I stretch thoroughly after the workout as well to mitigate the possibly deleterious effects. Before, during, and after I drink water and tend to drink more (probably about as much as I should be drinking all the time but) before performances. Check with your doctor or nutritionist for the proper amount that you should be drinking so you don’t over do it.

Afternoon (day before)

I try to have as non-stressful a day as possible, but who doesn't right? Stress from the day before can really creep into performance day and potentially hurt your playing. I avoid too much more physical activity if possible (I know that may be more difficult for some of you) but if I have to exert myself, I make sure and re-stretch the day of the performance.

Evening (day before)

I take it as easy as possible and avoid super-salty or spicy foods as these can dehydrate the body and compromise your performance. I also really try to avoid alcohol, because that is the king of dehydrators and can severely affect your singing skills as well as longevity on stage. I also try to stay up as late as I think I will be up on the night of the performance so that I don't start to lose energy half the way through the show. This can be a tough one for some, especially if they are early morning risers. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not implying that you deprive yourself of sleep, but rather stretch out your normal circadian (sleep) rhythms so that you're not exhausted on stage.

Morning (day of the show)

Start your day with a big glass of warm water. This is a good start to any day, mainly because most of us are usually dehydrated when we wake up. A glass of water first thing in the morning before coffee or food really absorbs more quickly into the thirsty body and will set a precedent of hydration for the day of the performance. Plan on drinking water throughout the day if you don't already do this as part of your daily regimen. I cannot emphasize this enough...chronic dehydration is prevalent in as many as 90% of all humans and will definitely effect your ability to sing at your maximum.

Noon (day of the show)

I stretch again while focusing on areas that may tend to tense the neck and shoulders and adversely affect the vocal chords. If I can't stretch during this period, then I do it when I get home, but I definitely do it before the evening of the show. I avoid alcohol and dehydrating types of foods, especially salty stuff. I also avoid talking or yelling (in general) extensively the entire day of the performance, because the vocal chords only have so much energy and then they tend to give out if overused. Did you know that some opera singers don’t speak for as much as two weeks before their performances?

Evening (night of the show)

I eat a good meal, but not too large and not too spicy, because this can cause acid reflux and/or gastro-intestinal types of problems that may interfere with the performance. There's nothing worse than having to burp in the middle of a song! It’s also best to eat at least an hour or so before you begin. No, you won’t cramp up like when swimming, but it's best to allow time for digestion before you introduce the stress of a performance to your body. I also try to do some light relaxation techniques, whether it's just watching something relaxing on T.V. for a while, or sitting outside on the deck. Calming oneself before the show can really help you get focused on the performance at hand. If you have a substantial drive to the venue, which is often the situation, take some time to chill out after you get there and get your gear set up. Also, find some time on the way there or once you’ve arrived to do a thorough vocal warming and stretching again if you're feeling tight. It's easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement of the planning phases and completely forget to do a proper warm-up.


Relax, breathe, and get comfortable on the stage or space that you will be performing by walking around and "owning" it. What I mean by owning is that it can be helpful to really claim that space as yours and put your gear/guitars where they're accessible, get comfortable where you're going to sit/stand, and really get acclimated with the area that you’re going to call your own for the next few hours. I also talk to the staff and sometimes the patrons if they are nearby to further familiarize myself with the room. Continue to drink water (not soda) and minimal if any alcohol due to the dehydrating, not to mention debilitating effects. Last but certainly not least, have fun! A happy and easy-going attitude going into a performance is perhaps the most important piece of preparation that a performer can do and the only way to prepare for that is to relax, breathe, and smile, because after all, performing is one of the most enjoyable things that we can do, right???

Beyond the vocal preparation that you will need to complete, those of you who sing and play an instrument (e.g. guitar) will need to take further steps to thoroughly prepare.
Chapter 3: (04:58) Prep for Guitarists 1. Stretch your hands and wrists.
2. Tune-up! Moving instruments about, especially in cold or dry climates, can make them go out of tune and proper tuning will help to create the sound that you desire.
3. Play some warm-up chords. I usually warm up for a few minutes just to acclimate my fingers to the guitar strings.
4. Check your connections and/or sound. Doing a sound check is paramount, especially when it comes to checking the volume of your guitar in relation to your voice. If guitar is too loud no one will hear you and that’s not so good!
5. Check your volume and quality of your sound in relation to other musicians on stage, if there are any. Same reasons as above apply even more so because imbalanced sound makes for bad stage mojo!
6. Check the acoustics in the room. This can be done by standing in different spots in the room and doing another sound check. If you’re a soloist then you can possibly bribe one of the patrons or a friend to help you out with this aspect.
7. Do a space check - make sure that you're not going to bump expensive instruments into walls, beams, or people.
8. Combine warm ups - as you should know by now, you can do vocal warm-up with guitar warm-ups and save time, but make sure that you give yourself sufficient time to properly warm up your vocal chords.
9. Enjoy!!!!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

allfaelligallfaellig replied

If you drink so much water how do you prevent the need to go on the toilet every 5 minutes during your performance? :-) Thanks for the lesson. Some really good advice!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Al....just time it out to go to the bathroom between sets!

jfm6stringjfm6string replied

I forgot to say Thank You Mark This is invaluable to any performer. Great, stupendous advice that everyone who plays and sings or aspires to do so should listen to this one segment. It's worth the cost of membership alone.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey 6-string thanx! Great to hear from you and thanks for your input as well, it's always appreciated! Mark

dino2009dino2009 replied

All great tips for any performer. I remember playing drums performing and singing. It's very demanding and you have to condition your body for the task at hand. Mark is speaking words of wisdom from real experience. These tips are very important if you want to better your performance. Thanks Mark !

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Thanks for sharing your experiences as a performer and for the great feedback as well Dino. See ya soon in the Q and A and rock on my friend! Mark

jfm6stringjfm6string replied

Very good info and I am so glad that you have shared this with your subscribers. The breathing and hydrating is so important. Just before any performance I take as deep a breath as I can and count backwards from 100 and go as far as I can using that one breath. I usually do this sevral times before the actual performance. It really helps. Being in good physical condition is also very, very important to a great performance.

Guitar Performance

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Performing live or in a studio situation is a goal of many aspiring guitarists. Vocal training and the ability to sing and play at the same time are skills that will help in this endeavor.

Introduction to SingingLesson 1

Introduction to Singing

Mark introduces you to the wonderful world of singing.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Vocal ExercisesLesson 2

Vocal Exercises

Mark Lincoln guides you through stretches and vocal exercises to warm up the voice.

Length: 23:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Vocal VibratoLesson 3

Vocal Vibrato

Mark continues to discuss vocal warm-ups and exercises. Then, he moves on to explain vibrato.

Length: 23:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Warming the BreathLesson 4

Warming the Breath

Mark covers some singing terms and teaches an exercise that is used to "warm the breath."

Length: 19:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Singing and GuitarLesson 5

Singing and Guitar

Mark Lincoln talks more about vocal exercise and warm-up. Then, he moves on to discuss singing and playing at the same time.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Singing ExercisesLesson 6

Singing Exercises

Mark Lincoln provides more singing exercises to practice while playing your guitar.

Length: 26:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Singing and Playing RevisitedLesson 7

Singing and Playing Revisited

Mark returns to singing and playing. Mark teaches proper form while singing and playing, cognitive exercises, and chord progression basics.

Length: 17:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Anatomy and DynamicsLesson 8

Anatomy and Dynamics

Mark Lincoln discusses song dynamics and the anatomy of songs. He also explains more about singing and playing.

Length: 23:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm in MusicLesson 9

Rhythm in Music

Mark Lincoln explains how rhythm is used in music.

Length: 15:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Technique AppliedLesson 10

Technique Applied

Mark Lincoln applies singing and playing techniques to the Doors song "Riders on the Storm."

Length: 17:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Palm Muting and SeparationLesson 11

Palm Muting and Separation

In lesson 11 of his performance series, Mark discusses the palm muting technique and how to separate your singing from your playing.

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Picking Vs. StrummingLesson 12

Picking Vs. Strumming

Mark discusses how alternating between arpeggios and strummed chords can add contrast and flair to your music.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Silence Is GoldenLesson 13

Silence Is Golden

Mark discusses silence in music and how it can transform a piece. Additionally, he explains how to use silence effectively in your playing.

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Warm-up and PracticeLesson 14

Warm-up and Practice

In this lesson, Mark Lincoln talks more about warming up your voice and walks you through a few exercises that will aid this process.

Length: 16:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Preparations for Playing LiveLesson 15

Preparations for Playing Live

Mark provides a lecture on items you should do and think about to become a proficient live player.

Length: 20:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Voice and GuitarLesson 16

Voice and Guitar

In this lesson, Mark delves into the concept of combining both your voice and guitar into one neat little package you can deliver to your listener.

Length: 21:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Day in the LifeLesson 17

A Day in the Life

Mark Brings us Lesson 17 today to explain the preparation that goes into a performance. Mark tracks back up to 36 hours in advance, and shows us some routines to prepare for a great show.

Length: 19:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Dynamics of a SongLesson 18

The Dynamics of a Song

In this lesson, Mark teaches all of the diverse parts to a song with regards to dynamics.

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Proper Breathing RoutinesLesson 19

Proper Breathing Routines

In this episode, Mark talks about proper breathing techniques and routines. He gives us eight points to work off of when singing and playing together.

Length: 23:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Play Along with Mark LincolnLesson 20

Play Along with Mark Lincoln

Mark Lincoln brings us a great play along opportunity. Mark provides lyrics as well as the chord progression for this play along. He also breaks down key elements such as palm muting, hammer-ons, bending,...

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Palm Muting TechniqueLesson 21

Palm Muting Technique

Lesson 21 is a repeat of lesson 20's content only with a whole new set of chords and techniques. The"chords de jour" will be a little simpler than lesson 20's and will also include a much more in depth...

Length: 20:05 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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