Minchinhampton Folk Club
Some notes on performance
Performance standards at MFC, as with all folk clubs, vary enormously, from semi-pro right through to raw beginners who have never done it in public before. We're not ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – we don’t judge, or call time on poor performances with electronic raspberries. That doesn't mean to say that audiences don’t appreciate good performances. The more you put into preparing your turn, the more you and your audience will enjoy it. Try to learn your material off by heart if you can (checking you've got the tune right as well - the wrong tune is much more noticeable than the wrong words), so you can concentrate on the way you're delivering the song instead of devoting most of your brain to remembering the next line or chord. Not easy, but it's worth it. Knowing your stuff also means you don't have to put the music stand between you and your audience. There’s nothing wrong with having the lyrics to hand in case you get stuck, but it will come across better if you're free to engage with the audience at least some of the time.
If you're nervous (aren't we all?) start the evening with something simple to get yourself in the groove. Save that difficult song you’ve been working on until you're feeling more relaxed.
If you do mess it up, try not to do the rabbit-in-the-headlights thing - if you laugh about it, they will still enjoy your turn and cheerfully forgive you. And please don't apologise for your performance in advance.
SINGING - TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Sing out and sing up, so they can hear you at the back. When practising at home, stand up and try projecting your voice. But don't go all out for volume as some folkies do, or your voice will lose its musicality.
Sing from your chest and diaphragm, not from just behind your teeth, so your song can set sail with a fair wind behind it.
Practise planned breathing, so that you’re ready to sing every note, particularly the high ones and those at the ends of lines, on a reasonably full set of lungs.
Open your mouth much wider than you would in speech – you’ll be amazed the difference it makes.
Enunciate every word as clearly as you can.
Hold notes on vowels, not on consonants (eg ‘caaaaaan’ not ‘cannnnnn’). Some professional folk singers haven't learned this.
Tackle difficult top notes by plucking them quietly down, not by charging at them.
You can gain vital energy from your audience – the trick is to sing to the smiley, happy, receptive faces and ignore those who look as if they’ve just opened their gas bill. (If you're singing from the music stand or keeping your eyes closed, you won't be able to do this.)