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performance smile

Gypsy 24 May 05 - 10:53 PM
Kaleea 24 May 05 - 11:44 PM
Clinton Hammond 24 May 05 - 11:56 PM
Gurney 25 May 05 - 02:26 AM
GUEST, Hamish 25 May 05 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 25 May 05 - 10:25 AM
greg stephens 25 May 05 - 12:15 PM
AggieD 25 May 05 - 12:28 PM
Once Famous 25 May 05 - 12:42 PM
Clinton Hammond 25 May 05 - 12:58 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 25 May 05 - 01:43 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 May 05 - 01:43 PM
Mooh 25 May 05 - 02:22 PM
PoppaGator 25 May 05 - 02:46 PM
TS 25 May 05 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 May 05 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,dearbhforgaill 25 May 05 - 04:02 PM
PoohBear 25 May 05 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,dearbhforgaill 25 May 05 - 04:07 PM
Once Famous 25 May 05 - 05:27 PM
GUEST 25 May 05 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Don(Wyziwyg)T 25 May 05 - 06:21 PM
SharonA 25 May 05 - 06:56 PM
Charmion 26 May 05 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Lighter at work 26 May 05 - 05:16 PM
Gypsy 26 May 05 - 05:24 PM
Gypsy 10 Jul 05 - 09:46 PM
Kaleea 11 Jul 05 - 02:27 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Jul 05 - 10:03 AM
Vixen 11 Jul 05 - 10:07 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Jul 05 - 10:38 AM
radriano 11 Jul 05 - 04:04 PM
PoppaGator 11 Jul 05 - 04:27 PM
PoohBear 11 Jul 05 - 05:08 PM
Uncle_DaveO 11 Jul 05 - 05:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Jul 05 - 06:07 PM
radriano 11 Jul 05 - 06:40 PM
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Subject: performance smile
From: Gypsy
Date: 24 May 05 - 10:53 PM

Any ideas on how to smile AND play well? Have put a mirror above my hammered dulcimer, so i can practice at home, but man, tis difficult. Anyone else have this problem? I love to play, and perform, but am told that i look rather unhappy doing so. Sigh. the guys look noble when they have composed faces at our performances, i just look grim.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Kaleea
Date: 24 May 05 - 11:44 PM

I have a bit of trouble smiling during performing. I came up as a "serious" classical Musician--except when I was singing "Hound Dawg" as a kid & fun songs like that! I was taught to sing with "cheeks up, buns in" with facial expression according to the sentiment of the aria or art song I was performing at the time. Most of the stuff was delirious happiness till she figures out he is to wed another/she's dying/etc. & then it's all "somber yet pleasant" face.    OK--so I pick a person in the audience who looks like they appreciate smiles, & I keep reminding myself to smile at them. It's a whole different concept for me to smile! If you look like you're having fun onstage, the listeners will enjoy it more. I also ask band mates to do whatever to remind me--grin at me, crack a joke, ask the little kids to play tambourines, whatever we can think of that a person would smile at! When you're smilin' when you're smilin' the whole world smiles with you!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 24 May 05 - 11:56 PM

Sing, like you don't nead the money
Love, like you'll never get hurt
Dance like no body's watching
It's gotta come from the heart
If you want it to work

:-)

My question is how can you NOT smile when you're playing? Especially when you're playing well!?!?!

LOL


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Gurney
Date: 25 May 05 - 02:26 AM

I once knew a guitarist who looked stupid when he was concentrating. His mouth fell open and sometimes his tongue lolled forward, his eyes stared into space..... No-one liked to tell him! He was a thoroughly nice guy and intelligent, and a very good lead guitarist, and no-one wanted to inhibit him.
Looking serious is better than that.
You might try la-la-la-ing along with the music, and then it would be obvious that you are enjoying yourself.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST, Hamish
Date: 25 May 05 - 07:30 AM

I hate it when I dribble on my guitar...


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 25 May 05 - 10:25 AM

I play the whistle - if I try to smile while playing it falls out...
However,I DO make an effort now to look at the audience (having been told off before for being too introfocused while playing).


Any other tips on live performances very welcome - I've only just started doing this!

D


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 May 05 - 12:15 PM

I always look grim, unless someone in the band plays a bum note, or one of the dancers falls over. Luckily Kate, the lead singer and fiddler in the band I play with, has a completely natural-looking smile which she can deploy effortlessly when playing fast fiddle tunes. A knack I wish I had, but will never learn. My advice is, dont force it. If it looks like a mad maniac's grin. or Joyce Grenfell, leave it out.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: AggieD
Date: 25 May 05 - 12:28 PM

I could never understand why people always smiled back at me, until my husband commented recently that I was one of the few people who looked happy while singing in my choir at performance.

Trouble is I don't know when I am smiling naturally, so if it's a grim song I can look totally inane grinning like an idiot!

I have tried for years when teaching Morris, to get people to look as if they are enjoying dancing, (OK let's get the jokes about Morris dancing over & done with folks) but some people just concentrate too much to appear to enjoy it. I always remind them that before going on, take good deep breaths to calm themselves, stand tall, shoulders rolled back & down to relax, this brings your head up & makes you feel better whether singing playing or dancing & you will hopefully look better, even if you can't quite bring yourself to smile properly.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Once Famous
Date: 25 May 05 - 12:42 PM

I like to look directly at audience members and smile at them, especially if I see they are really into it. They lock eyes with me for a second and usually smile back.

Seeing someone in an audience doing this produces a genuine smile on me and a connection.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 25 May 05 - 12:58 PM

Abso-frigg'n-lootly MG!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 May 05 - 01:43 PM

Martin,

Now you get an abject, and sincere apology from me for the many harsh comments below the BS line. Anyone with that kind of empathy is OK by me.

Good on you friend
Don T.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 May 05 - 01:43 PM

I'm an eye-contact man, from way back. My songs are almost all story songs, and I find it helps with getting the story line over. And not eye-contact with just one audience member, either! Looking around and delivering the story to someone in the back, in the front, the left, etc. Since many if not most of my story songs are funny, or at least pleasant, the smile comes easily.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Mooh
Date: 25 May 05 - 02:22 PM

'Don't do the pastie smile well, and my usual default setting is grim looking (I'm not exactly a lady-killer), but I do try to smile once in a while, especially when doing a solo thing. I admire those who can play convincingly and sincerely smiling all the while, but not me. Other indicators of "smile" may be present, like the eyes, and general body language.

Sincerity matters more. A shit-eating grin while singing a slow air just doesn't fit.

Don't worry, be happy.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 May 05 - 02:46 PM

I would imagine that eye-contact, smiles, and similar methods for connecting with the audience are more natural for singers (self-accompanied or not) than for instrumentalists. The lyrics you're vocalizing provide a framework of meaning for facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.

Audience empathy is probably more problematic for non-singing instrumentalists. That's OK if you're in a group with a singing "front person," but I sympathize with anyone who feels uncomfortable being alone on stage with just their instrument.

Martin said just the right thing, didn't he?

Sometimes, I have found, there can be such a thing as too much empathy with an audience (or with an individual in the audience), at least for a performer trying to maintain peaceful coexistence with a domestic partner. ClintonHammond, you know what I'm talking about ~ you told us all about how much fun you had on St. Paddy's Night!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: TS
Date: 25 May 05 - 03:49 PM

MG, thats almost worthy of a thread on its own...that amazing sense of attention and connection when you lock eyes with a member of the audience...almost hard tot turn away..actually..I usuallly end up usnig them as a focuss point for the rest of the night when needed..

Slàinte!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 May 05 - 03:53 PM

Don't worry about it, Gypsy. When you are playing the dulcimer, your "right brain" (spatial skills) is going a mile a minute, and your face is on its own. That's why some musicians make faces when they play - the brain is busy doing something else, and the facial muscles go uncontrolled.

When the number's over and the applause starts, smile then.

I bet the people who criticize you either don't play an instrument or they never play anything challenging.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,dearbhforgaill
Date: 25 May 05 - 04:02 PM

Oddly enough, smiling and making eye contact is not something that comes naturally to singers. For me, I have to constantly work on that aspect of my performances and it's very difficult. When I was in college and an aspiring opera star, they taught us technique and how to make beautiful sounds come out of our bodies but no acting technique. It's only recently with my experience performing as a bard in the SCA and Ren Faire circuit that I've learned how to play with my audience. It's so easy to get caught up in technique and being perfect that we forget why we do what we do...to entertain and make others happy. I've been trying to forget so much about vocal technique and concentrate more on having fun.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: PoohBear
Date: 25 May 05 - 04:07 PM

Hey, dearbhforgaill, what kingdom do you live in?
PB


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,dearbhforgaill
Date: 25 May 05 - 04:07 PM

I'm living in Aethelmearc but I'm formerly from the East. You?

d


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Once Famous
Date: 25 May 05 - 05:27 PM

Don-T

Apology accepted.

And to others, above and below the line are two separate universes. Playing and performing music is a special gift one can carry with them all of their life.


I have never, ever taken that for granted.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 05 - 06:16 PM

I'm with you on that, Martin. Nothing, here or hereafter, compares with that moment when you realise that you and the audience are SHARING your songs, and they are having as good a time as you.

Now that might be something worth dying for.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 May 05 - 06:21 PM

Oops! That was me by the postern, as the front's on a go slow.....A.....g.....a.....i.....n.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: SharonA
Date: 25 May 05 - 06:56 PM

Gypsy, since you're playing hammered dulcimer, try not to lower your head too far over the instrument -- if the audience is seeing more of your eyebrows than your eyes, it could automatically look to them as if you are frowning or even glowering, no matter what your mouth is doing.

I agree with those who say a pleasant expression is better than a grin, that a smile between songs works well, and that those who criticize have probably never touched a hammered dulcimer, much less tried to play one.

This reminds me of an incident that happened to a folk-club acquaintance of mine several years ago: our club was performing for an open house/luncheon at the Pearl S. Buck House in Pennsylvania (U.S.). Also hired to wander the grounds at this event was the 6-foot 6-inch "Philly Phanatic", the mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. (HeSome info on the Phanatic, with a pic) His gig involves behaving phrenetically and doing everything possible to annoy people, including bumping them, sticking out his "tongue" (a party-favor type "blow-out" streamer) at them and putting his arm around them. You've probably guessed what's coming here: while our club's hammered dulcimer performer was playing a solo, the Phanatic came up to him and tried to get him flustered. We all held our breath as our friend was subjected to having a feathery green finger poking him and a feathery green muzzle nuzzling his face and a feathery green belly wiggling and threatening to knock the whole instrument over... but, consummate professional that he is, our friend remained unflappable and performed flawlessly. I was watching from the back and could not see his face, but knowing his temper I'm willing to bet that he was NOT smiling.

So if you need to think of something to make yourself smile while performing, think of my poor friend grimly hammering away with an ass in an enormous green costume dancing around him and tickling his face with that "tongue"...

Sharon


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Charmion
Date: 26 May 05 - 01:12 PM

I can't smile while singing with others and/or accompaniment, and therefore listening hard as well as concentrating on producing a beautiful noise. I also tend to roll my eyes which looks really odd as they're crossed and thus at one point go in opposite directions. The net result is one of the many reasons why I'm an editor and not a star of stage and screen. While playing the guitar or the mandolin, I concentrate really hard and thus am generally not aware of what my face is doing until the song or tune is finished, at which point I look startled.

When singing a capella, on the other hand, it feels as easy as talking and my face is far more obedient. To make the song "go over", I generally find someone to sing to in the audience -- preferably someone who looks interested!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 26 May 05 - 05:16 PM

A million years ago I switched on the TV and an Irish band was on. Every time the camera looked at the accordion player, he was wearing the same wildly exaggerated ear-to-ear grin while playing the brain-destroying "Dublin Jack of All Trades." It was horrible !

Hey, man, if you're reading this, I forgive you. But it's taken a long time....


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Gypsy
Date: 26 May 05 - 05:24 PM

Thanks, all........i can always think of this thread for smiles! I HAVE mastered the art of the 'chucklefuck'.......which am sure that EVERYONE wears when making a spectacular mistake.........and trying how to figure out how do it the same way twice, so that it is a new arrangement!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Gypsy
Date: 10 Jul 05 - 09:46 PM

Well, it has been 6 weeks of working in front of the mirror, with multudinous performances. And it works. Can smile and play at the same time. And did NOT brain the guy who tapped my elbow to get my attention at the last gig.
Now, i get to revert........have a wake to play on wednesday, and definitely plan on looking composed, not smiley for this one! Thanks all!


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Kaleea
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 02:27 AM

Huzzah & Hurrah to you, Gypsy! Cheers to your smiles. Remember, at wake one may have somewhat of a smile as long as it is equal to the amount of alcohol in the blood of the next of kin. (At least, that's what the auld fellers in me first ceili band told me when I was but a teenage butterball.)


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 10:03 AM

Depending on the piece and the instrument as mentioned above - if you are really enjoying yourself and relaxed. a smile will normally come naturally. It also helps if you know your material well, but if you can fake a genuine smile and then bluff, you can get around that too... :-)


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Vixen
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 10:07 AM

I like the "pick someone attentive and make eye-contact" approach. As a teacher, I don't mind being up in front of people, but when I'm performing I have to give the music all my attention. I often just close my eyes to reduce the quantity of sensory input, and let the face go on autopilot. Then I smile happily at anyone and everyone when the tune is over.
V


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 10:38 AM

Actually, on further reflection, I find it easier to perform in front of larger audiences than smaller. When there are just a few faces that I can make eye contact with, I get nervous and lose my concentration. In front of a large sea of faces, I get a real buzz, and my concentration is increased. As a child I played in front of large crowds without nerves, but was terrified of the 'one on one' situation of Music Prac Exams, so may be that is why.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: radriano
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 04:04 PM

Smiling while performing, unless it is totally natural, is a load of crap.

People want you to smile when you're performing so that they can feel good about themselves. Forcing yourselve to smile is not the answer.


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 04:27 PM

What's wrong with helping ~ hell, causing ~ an audience to feel good about themselves? Isn't that what performers are paid to do?


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: PoohBear
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 05:08 PM

Dearbhforgaill,
exilled to the Kingdom of the Outlands. My only SCA contact these days is at our Renaissance Faire put on the the local Arts Council. It's the primary fund raiser for DAAC and both the local SCA and Amtgard groups come and do fighter demos and such.
PB


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 05:23 PM

When I'm playing (or maybe I should say "working through") something at the outer edges of my abilities at home, my Beautiful Wife will often tell me: "Don't scowl!" I have a bad habit, when concentrating, of scowling.

Therefore I know that in performance I'd better be thoroughly at home with the song, so that it can just flow from me as a familiar old friend. Otherwise, I may frighten the audience!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 06:07 PM

On balance I tend to prefer people not to smile, or emote in any way. And as for calculated eye-contact...

I think the best thing is just be natural, whatever that means in terms of expressions. Some people just naturally look more cheerful than other people, some look less. The last thing you want to look at is a tragic clown with a painted grin...


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Subject: RE: performance smile
From: radriano
Date: 11 Jul 05 - 06:40 PM

Poppagator writes:

"What's wrong with helping ~ hell, causing ~ an audience to feel good about themselves? Isn't that what performers are paid to do?"

I don't agree with this. Performers are not paid to make an audience feel good about themselves. A performer presents art. Could be a comedy, could be drama, could be a tragedy.

Should we all affix fake smiles to our faces like the artists on the Lawrence Welk Show?


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