Photo credit: Hayley Madden
The Musicians’ Union hosted an event at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 14th November as part of the London Jazz Festival 2011. The event featured an industry panel of performers and experts on the subject of ‘stagecraft’, the art of performance and engaging with your audience.
Panellist Natalie Williams, a superb singer-songwriter and a regular at Ronnie Scotts, said “never tell your audience you’re tired. You’ve always got to be on top form. I remember at one gig, I’d recently dyed my hair red and the dye started running down my face because I was so hot. A member of my band chucked me a towel, so I wiped myself down and just carried on with the performance!”
Allon Beauvoisin, band leader and alto-sax player with Brass Jaw, offered some advice about making mistakes on stage “It happens to everyone. If it’s a small mistake, internalise it and carry on. If it’s a mistake the audience will have noticed, sometimes it’s better to be honest and acknowledge it.” He also told a story about performing at the National Portrait Gallery and explained that one of the band’s biggest mistakes actually became a feature of that night’s performance. One of Brass Jaw’s unique selling points is that they are very mobile on stage and during this performance one of the band members decided to get onto the escalator at the NPG. What he didn’t realise was how long the escalator was. The audience couldn’t fail to spot that it was a mistake but the band member made it part of the performance, coming back down through the gallery and appearing on different floors. It ended up being a big hit.
The panel, which also included Martel Ollerenshaw, Associate Director at Serious, and performance skills tutor Mary McCusker, generally advised musicians in attendance at the event to be themselves on stage. It is important to engage with your audience, respect your audience and remember that you wouldn’t be there without them.
For the full London Jazz Festival programme, see http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk/eventsTweet