Preparations for Playing Live (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Preparations for Playing Live

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

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Guitar Performance seriesLength: 20:57Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:29) Performance Please enjoy a short performance from Mark Lincoln!
Chapter 2: (10:25) Preparations for Playing Live
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-me"

Wake up the breath with "sah-sah-sah," etc. - long and sustained then five times staccato.

5. "Sah" in five note descending scales, then five note ascending scales
6. Work these scales faster and faster, then louder and louder
Practice singing along with rhythms that we've been working on in the last few lessons. Practice singing single note hums first. Then, sing/make up a melody line that you think might match with the chords you are playing.

Please make sure that you have reviewed the earlier sections of this series, and the corresponding review sections as well to make sure that you haven't forgotten any of the essential ingredients to properly warming up your voice!

Okay, so we've spent a considerable amount of time talking about warm-ups, humming, and even exercises to improve guitar technique. But how do you go about preparing for a gig? How do you know when you're ready to make the jump from playing for your Uncle Skip to playing at the local nightclub? What about techniques to truly make you a better singer and more dynamic performer? How do you transfer endless hours of vocal and guitar exercises to the stage? Well, one obvious answer is practice, and that goes without saying. But there are myriad other considerations when it comes to preparing to perform in a public venue and performing with other people.

How Do You Know When You're Ready?
This is a question that most people find themselves asking and there really is only one answer, you don't! Most musicians, whether they have been classically trained since they were in the womb or learned how to play from watching MTV are unsure whether they are truly ready to perform in front of a crowd. Here are some steps to prepare for that inevitability and some more steps to be the best performer that you can be:

1. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice
2. Play in front of small groups of people to "test the water" so to speak. Be aware of this particular practice though, friends and relatives may be prone to tell you what you want to hear and perhaps be nicer than a stranger might be. Nevertheless, this is a great practice and will hopefully give you the confidence you need to perform in front of a group of strangers.
3. Be prepared! Eleven million cub scouts can't be wrong! Know your material inside and out, and if you're planning to test out material that is new to you, make sure that you've practiced it until you're sick to death of it. It's also a good idea to combine a newer, more familiar song with some of your older material, or songs that you're super confident of.
4. Talk to people in the crowd before you go on. This is a time-tested practice proven to be effective by public speakers who often have the jitters. If you can become even a little bit familiar with some of the folks that you will be pouring your heart out in front of, it can be a calming element.
5. Breathe! Remember that singing, good singing in particular relies on air, and breath, and especially air! If you are hyperventilating, it won't help your performance or the quality of your singing.
6. Have fun! It's always a good idea to remind oneself of how incredibly enjoyable it is to play music, and how much enjoyment that it brings to other people. Also, smiles are contagious, and when you're having a good time (even if you didn't hit that C note just right on the money), they'll be having a good time.
7. Pick-a-point. Many performers will, especially initially, pick a point out in space and focus on that instead of people's faces. Sometimes it can be fairly distracting to look directly into people's faces, and let's face it, playing well usually takes some concentration. Find a point off in the distance and get into your own space. Sometimes it helps me if I create a space on stage that becomes my own, then I find a point off in the distance and simply focus on what I'm doing. After a while, once I'm calm, I find it easier to look around and even into people's eyes.
8. Feed on the Passion. One of the most important elements to being a great performer is to reach down inside of yourself and use the emotions that you have stored within you. All of us have years of anger, sadness, madness and happiness as well that we can access and funnel into our performances. Performing can be incredibly cleansing and cathartic if you allow it to be. Channel the emotion into music.
Chapter 3: (10:04) Singing in the Public Eye Singing in the Public Eye
So how does one prepare to sing in front of an adoring, or sometimes not so adoring crowd? How do you make the jump from shower-singer to nightclub crooner? Well, as mentioned previously, practice is a definite must and most likely many years of it. Becoming a superlative vocalist is no easy task and often requires diligence, superior genetics, and private study. But what about you?

1. Once again, practice, practice, practice. We've talked to some length about necessary warm-ups for singing and these are absolutely essential. Gradual warming and stretching is integral to the proper functioning of the vocal chords and will help to avoid any short and/or long-term damage. But what about the actual singing itself? Good singing requires practice as well, some of which can occur in your car listening to the Beatles, some of which can occur on stage. But what should you be practicing?

1. Emulate - Simply singing like the pro's can be a very helpful way to learn how to sing and practice as well, as long as you are not overdoing it. Screaming, yelling and otherwise straining your vocal chords can cause both short and long-term damage to the vocal chords. Also, keep in mind that even if you are singing along to Maria Carey, it's always in your best interest to go through a warm-up process before you sing with any real volume or speed.
2. Enunciate - Concise formation of words from your mouth can help you to express lyrics more clearly. Try this next time you're singing: concentrate on singing the individual words of the song but make sure that you are forming your mouth, even perhaps over-exaggerate, to the shapes of the words. Bob Dylan can get away with mumbling, but some performers cannot.
3. Shaping - The actual shape of your mouth will dictate the sound of what is coming out of it. Try this experiment: sing a note softly (a note of your choice of course), and while you are singing, change the shape of your mouth without changing how you are singing or the volume. Open and close your mouth and notice how the sound of the note changes. This is something that many people are not aware of but can have a profound effect on the words that are coming out of their mouths!
4. Form - Review any and all of the earlier sections concerning proper form, breathing technique, stretching etc.
5. Showman(woman)ship - This is an important part of performance, perhaps even more important than the quality of the singer's voice. Presentation, dress, dancing and/or expressiveness can all play an integral role in how the audience perceives, receives, and accepts the performer.
6. Communication - Many performers stick simply to playing and have very little, if any, verbal communication with the audience. Communication can help to break down the wall between audience and performer and put the crowd at ease. This is an especially important point in smaller clubs where crowd and performer are at close proximity.
7. Confidence - Having your material down and perfectly (relatively speaking) under your belt can communicate an air of confidence that goes hand-in-hand with professionalism. Practice and concentration will help with these aspects as well as playing out as much as possible.
8. Spontaneity - Regardless of having your material flawlessly memorized and practiced, a certain degree of spontaneous jamming can always take a performance from good to exceptional. Sometimes it's okay to let go and change musical arrangements.

All of these things are, of course subjective and variable from performer to performer. Each person needs to make their own decisions as to dress, manner of singing/expression as well as countless other details. And who is to say, after all, who is a "good" performer and who is the "best" singer? Some prefer opera while others listen to nothing but rap music. Why is one style of music, or one type of performer better than another? The answers to these questions are to be determined by the individual and are purely subjective in nature. The ultimate goal then is to be the best performer that you can be!

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.

gjdbgjdb replied

Hey Mark, thanks for the lesson! I've got my very first live performance comin up next week. I'm gonna be playing for about 100 people and im gonna be playing guitar and singing. Im scared and exited at the same time lol (mostly just really looking forward to it though)! There's very usefull stuff for me in these lessons, so again: thank you so much!

connornovemberconnornovember replied

is that an original song at the beginning?

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Yes Connor that's just a little original intro that I worked up for this lesson, thanks for asking! Mark

connornovemberconnornovember replied

awesome stuff man.

tangohuntertangohunter replied

Great lesson.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Tango great to hear from you and thanx for the great feedback! Later! Mark

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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