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Sitting Or Standing

09 Nov 02 - 03:10 PM (#822351)
Subject: Sitting Or Standing
From: Jerry Rasmussen

Just talking about this at another site, and wondered which way Catters perform and why. I've noticed that the old country blues singers mostly seemed to perform sitting down. Electric blues players perform standing up. When people are in a band, whether it's bluegrass or old-time they usually stand. Folk singers stand, or sit, depending... not sure on what... what they're comfortable with. I've performed folk standing, and sitting down (not simultaneously.) Generally I prefer sitting down because I enjoy giving a conversational introduction to the songs, and it just seems more natural doing that, sitting down. When I've sung white gospel with the Beans and others, we've tended to sit down (although, I've been getting them up on their feet more, now.) When I perform with the Gospel Messengers, doing black gospel quartet stuff, I have to stand up. Sometimes, when we're practicing at night though, and we're all bushed (maybe that phrase needs to be stricken from Mudcat) sometimes we sit down. But, it doesn't take long for us to get on our feet, no matter how tired we are.

I did a singer's workshop at a festival once and someone in the workshop audience condemned all of us... including Sandy & Caroline Paton and Gordon Bok, saying we couldn't sing right because we were sitting down. Sheesh! I pointed out that there have been a lot of great singers who have generally performed sitting on a stool. But then, I suppose that's half sitting half standing.

Anyone sing lying down?

Confusinger and confusinger..

So, what's your pleasure?


09 Nov 02 - 03:17 PM (#822353)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: SlickerBill

I hear John Lennon recorded Come Together lying down, which gave his voice that wierd effect.

Oddly enough, I just did a gig last night at which I stood, while the previous time I played there I sat, and I think I like standing. I think it allows me to move a bit more, which relaxes me. I probably breathe better as well, which in turn helps my singing and thus my confidence factor. I think when I sit I have a tendency to kind of "hide" a bit. I notice too that when I do sit, I tend to move to the very edge of the seat anyway, which is a real butt killer, so jeez, man, I might as well stand.         SB

09 Nov 02 - 03:44 PM (#822364)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Genie

Generally, I prefer standing up to play and sing, because I find it easier to keep the beat when I put my whole body into the rhythm. I also sing better standing up. But if my back or feet are bothering me, I sit.

I also sit when standing seems to separate me from the group (in a sing-along or entertaining a very small group).

If I have only one mic and no direct-in for my guitar, I sit, so the mic can pick up both voice and guitar.

I do sing lying down sometimes, Jerry -- but usually not in public. ยค;-)

09 Nov 02 - 03:57 PM (#822372)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: McGrath of Harlow

My general rule in life now is never stand when you can sit. That applies whether you're in a queue or playing music.

But for music I'd always prefer a stool to a chair. Chairs seem to inhibit the feet somehow. (I always think of the saying "How do stop a French Canadian fiddler from playing", and the answer is "Nail his feet to the floor"; I'm not a French Canadian fiddler, but I know what they mean.)

09 Nov 02 - 04:17 PM (#822383)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Murray MacLeod

To my mind there is no question. If you are performing to an audience you should perform standing up,if possible. Unless of course you are a pianist or a harper ....

Performers who sit do not have the same impact on the audience as performers who stand, particularly if they sing.

Guitarists frequently feel that they cannot play to their best if they stand, but that obstacle can be overcome by practice. The list of virtuoso guitarists who are able to perform standing up is lengthy. Martin Simpson, Jack Williams and John James are just a few who spring to mind straight off.

Of course, OTOH, Leo Kottke, Doc Watson and Tony McManus are just a few who perform sitting down. Their performances are amazing, but IMHO would be better still if they were able to stand to play. Not that I expect Doc Watson to change at this stage of his career :-)

Those who limit their musical excursions to session playing, however, are probably better advised to sit while playing. Might seem a bit pretentious to stand up when it is your turn.


09 Nov 02 - 04:25 PM (#822386)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Alice

Good topic. It is easier to breath deeply when your body is straight (not sitting). I remember when you posted that memory of the workshop and someone (Don Firth maybe?) responded with describing different opera roles where the singer has to sing while lying down or sitting or whatever.

If you're not performing a character and have a choice of whether to stand or sit for a performance, I say... it depends. If you are in a session type situation everyone will be sitting to play. You can then stand up to sing a solo or keep sitting. If you're on a stage it depends on how well it looks presenting yourself to the audience, sitting or standing. I've gotten used to sitting because I go to a session twice a week, but if I'm going to perform in a situation where I'm not playing an instrument, I prefer to stand. I like to walk around a bit and engage the listeners. If it's a small intimate circle, it feels better to sit, just moving to the edge of the chair to let the breath support be easier. A big stage, standing.


09 Nov 02 - 04:25 PM (#822388)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Jeri

If 'performing' means doing a song in front of people...
I like to stand because I have more control over muscles and airflow. It matters, because I sing in a place where I have to get pretty loud to be heard. I also usually have too much energy, nervous or otherwise to sit. I've just recently been trying to learn how to play guitar while standing. It's tough because the angles - hands, instrument, eyeballs - are all different.

I'll stay seated if I'm really tired or if I'm somewhere where standing would be awkward. I have sung (choruses) lying down. Late night cabin at the 2001 Getaway - I was dead tired, warm and comfy and wasn't gonna move for nuthin'!

09 Nov 02 - 04:27 PM (#822389)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Crane Driver

Whilst the concertina is a wonderful instrument which I have loved dearly for thirty years, it just isn't designed for standing up. The weight is all in front of your hands and the grip is quite imprecise, it's really meant to be played sitting down, with the instrument resting on the knee. Fortunately I only play on a few songs, we're mostly a capella, and we sing standing when we're on stage. Informal sessions are different - I mostly sing seated then, but I might stand for certain songs. It surely helps the breathing - unbends the tubes, or something.


09 Nov 02 - 04:27 PM (#822390)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Don Firth

I don't have a helluva lot of choice, actually. I had polio when I was two years old and walked with aluminum forearm crutches. I could sing standing up, but if I tried to play the guitar too, I'd have to set the crutches aside, in which case there would be an excellent chance that I'd fall on my keister.

Way back in the mists of antiquity, my first voice teacher, Edna Bianchi (retired Metropolitan Opera soprano), said that as long as I "sit tall," it should have no effect on my singing. After all, opera singers have to sing while doing all kinds of weird stuff. Example: Violetta, dying of "consumption" (La Traviata), sings her big final act aria while lying in bed and coughing up a lung.

I'm in a wheelchair now, and the voice still seems pretty strong.

Don Firth

09 Nov 02 - 04:31 PM (#822392)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Don Firth

Oops. Cross-posted with Alice.

09 Nov 02 - 04:33 PM (#822393)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Tweed

I'll sit whenever possible. I can slap shoe leather on the floor better that way and my back needs to be recalled to factory from busting and finishing concrete. 'Course I don't claim to be anything close to a pro musician either. I expect that would put more demands of a performer. Kitchen chairs are the best, IMHO.

09 Nov 02 - 04:34 PM (#822396)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Murray MacLeod

Whilst the concertina is a wonderful instrument which I have loved dearly for thirty years, it just isn't designed for standing up"

Andrew, Alastair Anderson, whom many would describe as the finest concertina player in the universe, invariably plays standing up.


09 Nov 02 - 04:38 PM (#822398)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: C-flat

When gigging with my band we do both.
Sitting, to play accoustic guitars in the first set and standing during the punchier second set.
I'm usually more comfortable sitting with my guitar but, as we generally use whatever seats are available at the venue, sometimes I find myself struggling on a too-tall bar stool, which can be tricky.

09 Nov 02 - 04:44 PM (#822400)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Murray MacLeod

Previous thread on Fingerpicking Standing Up .

I forgot to mention Doyle Dykes as a guitarist who stands to play and is totally mind-blowing.


09 Nov 02 - 05:47 PM (#822421)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: JedMarum

standing ... best for singing, best for audience response

09 Nov 02 - 07:31 PM (#822475)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Mr Red

I found a way of taking the weight off my legs a bit which started when I was more nervous. In variably there is a chair on stage and I just turn it round and perch my bum on the back - most chairs are near enough the right height. The old adrenaline making mucles twitchy was made worse by having the weight of the body adding to the load on those muscles. And it does allow you to be more conversational - being more relaxed.
Sitting down solves that problem but unless you sit bolt upright it restricts the diaphram - however in a singaround situation I sit or stand from where I am at the time - if you don't you don't get to sing often.

09 Nov 02 - 07:46 PM (#822484)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: dorareever

Uusally if I'm at home practicing I sit down because I'm lazy,but everytime I start doing it standing up is better,so if I have to perform I try to do it standing up.Is better.Not only for the voice,but the guitar as well.I play better standing up,don't know what it is.But I have this weird thing of putting all my weight on a single foot so it's a little tiring and that's why I usually sit down in everyday (not anymore,I don't practice very much in these days,when I was at the basic learning of things I did,now I just try no to rust)practice.
Odd dream I had about singing...I wanted to sing for a friend who had a group,and I did it and he said "nah,you sing too loud,we want confidential crooning here,no loud voices" ha! "Yeah,at least I don't need a thousand microphones!!" *lol* It was kind of a funny dream,and with a little link to reality as well...but I need a microphone of course ;)

09 Nov 02 - 07:57 PM (#822489)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Charley Noble

I can't sand sitting down. I mean I can't shit standing. Whatever!

Charley Noble

09 Nov 02 - 08:45 PM (#822507)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Genie

But can you sand while you're standing and picking, Charley? *BG*

10 Nov 02 - 09:57 AM (#822635)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: KingBrilliant

In a crowded noisy pub, standing up to sing is a good visual cue that you're about to start, tends to get people to quiet down a bit, so it works well for people with quiet voices.

10 Nov 02 - 10:27 AM (#822647)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: VoxFox

Well, when the hubby and I are playing for a senior's dance we usually are sitting as I play keyboards and find it easier, but I am also the singer so I have to sit very tall. I have the straightest back in town. *BG* Never had any problems singing. And when we are playing in the R n R band, we are standing. I am usually all over the stage interacting with the other players. (only a singer in a Rock and Roll band, no keyboards for me, I leave that to the expert) It's a good life!   :o) VF

10 Nov 02 - 10:36 AM (#822651)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Schantieman

Even though I have a strong voice I find it difficult to sing much sitting down. When I do, (singarounds, small groups, playing an instrument) it does help to 'sit tall' (bit difficult for us short-arses).


10 Nov 02 - 12:37 PM (#822739)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Roger the Skiffler

I've noticed that blues bands tend to sit down for their acoustic sets and stand for their "electric" ones, as well. Of course, if they're going to play lap steel they need to sit.
Personally, I prefer to sit while playing the washboard so I can grip it between my thighs and play it vertically with one hand per side. I prefer to sing standing up, easier to dodge missiles and run for the door.

10 Nov 02 - 06:19 PM (#822912)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: SlickerBill

Why don't Mennonites make love standing?
Someone might think they're dancing.

10 Nov 02 - 07:38 PM (#822955)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Mooh

Sitting down works best for me because I have enough gut to muffle the rather resonant backs of my guitars and mandolins, and I can never seem to stay on the mic when playing into it when standing. However, I can play electric guitar and bass quite comfortably standing up. Emphasis on one or the other posture doesn't have much to do with the music in my view, and either works as well as the other so long as the performer is comfortable.

Ever since I dislocated my shoulder I've had a bit of trouble with long periods with an instrument strap, but short periods aren't too difficult.

Peace, Mooh.

10 Nov 02 - 09:54 PM (#823031)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Mr Happy

all u people seem impressed by what others do. y?

be yourself.

just do your own thing.

i'm most comfy sitting while performing or in session or snig around.

but i don't make my self uncomfortable trying 2 emulate others.

sometimes- the muse will take me 2 do an unaccompanied snog stood up.

but, folks- its whatevever you're comfortable with- YOURSELF!!

10 Nov 02 - 11:19 PM (#823070)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Bee-dubya-ell

One of the bands I play in always plays standing up. The other band I sometimes play in always plays sitting down. For the occasional solo gig, I stand or sit on a tall stool.


10 Nov 02 - 11:53 PM (#823080)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Phil Cooper

I used to play and sing sitting down, but was convinced to start standing up. So, after practicing playing guitar instrumentals standing up, I've gotten used to it. Standing is better for breath control for singing. But, I have seen some great performers do fine, spellbinding shows sitting down.

11 Nov 02 - 09:57 AM (#823317)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Jerry Rasmussen

Maybe we should compile a list of singers who perform sitting down, and then designate someone to tell them that they're not doing it right? We could start with Gordon Bok and Ed Trickett, and maybe someone should speak to Rick Fielding. :-)


11 Nov 02 - 10:30 AM (#823333)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Alice

Well, Jerry, you asked, "What's your pleasure?" and that is basically what people have responded with. It's an individual choice depending on the situation and what people are comfortable with. There's no right or wrong, and I don't think people have responded with right or wrong, but just what their choices are given the situation.


11 Nov 02 - 10:48 AM (#823347)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Davetnova

RtS - my wife also likes to grip it between her thighs and play it vertically, but she usually sings standing up.

11 Nov 02 - 10:54 AM (#823354)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: My guru always said

Suffering from lower back pain I usually sit tall to sing. The other night I tried standing while singing with a friend & got really wobbly legs! They were so bad that I struggled to sing & was concentrating more on staying upright.

I think Mr Red has a fine solution with the reversed chair & Mr Happy is right too - you need to feel comfortable. Surely we need to enjoy performing? *s*

11 Nov 02 - 11:34 AM (#823392)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Uncle_DaveO

Like others here, I will usually sit if I'm in a club singaround.

But if I'm actually performing, it's a little different. Standing makes me more visible, especially if I'm on the same flat level floor with the audience. Partly for that reason, I think it's better showmanship to stand. I feel there's a psychological advantage with the audience, standing.

Now, when playing and singing with the banjo it wouldn't make any operational difference whether I'm standing or sitting, but when I'm singing with the guitar something else comes into play. My guitar is a classical guitar, without shoulder strap or cord. I need the left knee. So I will use a chair, sort of half-sit on the back of it with my left foot on the seat, giving the knee position for the guitar.

Dave Oesterreich

11 Nov 02 - 12:09 PM (#823425)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Seamus Kennedy

I think Uilleann pipers should play standing up.
In fact, I've always wanted to see an Uilleann pipe Marching Band, hobbling down the street like 20 Quasimodos, with their Bodhran section leading the way, and the Bodhran-Major prancing proudly in front like Robert Preston in the Music Man, throwing his tipper high in the air, pirouetting beneath it, and catching it skilfully (if Bodhran players can do anything skilfully) before it hits the ground.
C'mon InObu, what about it?


11 Nov 02 - 12:20 PM (#823431)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: MMario

My preference is usually seated -but depending on the set may be standing - and for some venues I don't have a choice. If standing I prefer (usually ) to be backed up to something I can use to steady myself - I have a real problem with the legs tending to shake; which distracts from singing.

11 Nov 02 - 01:02 PM (#823471)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: McGrath of Harlow

As John Bunyan said "He that is down need fear no fall..."

11 Nov 02 - 01:29 PM (#823479)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Kim C

I don't like to fiddle sitting down - feel like my bowing arm doesn't have enough leverage that way. So in real performance, I stand. At parties or other informal gatherings, I generally sit, because we're all sitting.

On the other hand, I prefer to play the guitar sitting down. I can play standing, but it seems awkward to me.

11 Nov 02 - 02:10 PM (#823504)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Mudlark

Mr Happy...I usually find snogging quite pleasant sitting OR standng...hmmmm...sometimes even lying down.

I don't have a guitar strap so play sitting down. No question that I sound better singing when I stand, but find playing awkward, so just try to sit tall. Most of the guitarists I've seen in concert sit to play. Michael Smith stands. The great duo Small Potatoes (who both play guitar, and other instruments, and sing) stand, but then, they have too much energy to sit.

In small venues, where frequently there is no stage, I think the audience likes a performer who stands, simply because (s)he is easier to see.

11 Nov 02 - 07:40 PM (#823762)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Snuffy

Standing or sitting are fine to sing, but leaning against the bar is best.

And I find if I have to change from sitting to standing, I always sing too high for a while! (because my mouth is higher??)

WassaiL! V

11 Nov 02 - 07:55 PM (#823773)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Murray MacLeod

I have just come home from Glenfarg Folk Club having seen another tremendous performer who used to play sitting down, but after twenty years realized that standing up was the way to go.

Maurice Dickson may not be a familiar name to many, but he is an incredible guitar player. He has only recently started perfomimg standing up, but it improves markedly what was always a first class performance.

I don't think anybody would say that performing sitting down is "wrong" Jerry. My point is that the performer will always have more impact standing up, but sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and practice to make the transition successfully. Some performers may feel that the extra work is not justified, and who would presume to argue?


11 Nov 02 - 08:33 PM (#823808)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Genie


Q: Why don't Baptists make love standing up?
A: Because it might lead to dancing.

11 Nov 02 - 09:11 PM (#823841)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Genie

I always find Leon Redbone great to listen to AND to watch. Not only does he sit down, but he wears dark glasses and has his hat brim pretty far down in front. Not exactly "reaching out to your audience" body language -- but it works for him!

As for me, one reason I usually stand (except in a group where everyone else is sitting) is that I spend all bloody day sitting -- on the phone, at the computer, driving, etc. Standing (and moving around while I play and sing) is a welcome break!


12 Nov 02 - 01:31 AM (#823962)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: GUEST,Boab

Bodhran ---standing up. When ye get tae my age, accordion---sitting down!!

12 Nov 02 - 05:36 AM (#824019)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: KingBrilliant

Murray MacLeod - "who would presume to argue"??
Most mudcatters on most subjects I reckon.... :@)

12 Nov 02 - 07:18 AM (#824048)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Dave Bryant

When I first saw this thread, I wondered if it was a sexist one - see here.

Seriously though:-

It all depends on what, where, and how long I'm playing. If I'm just doing a short spot - especially unaccompanied, I'll stand. If I'm playing tunes in a band, I'll sit (on a chair without armrests). If I'm doing a long singing spot, I prefer a barstool - although I always stand for many songs which need a bit of acting (ie Sweeney Todd).

If you're not using a PA, then generally the higher (physically) that you are, the better your voice/guitar will carry across a room. Also of course, it is much easier to breath and sing when you're standing - I once had to sing a big operatic aria sitting - and believe me it was hard work.

25 Nov 02 - 09:36 AM (#834509)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull

25 Nov 02 - 10:12 AM (#834541)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Midchuck

I think I can play the guitar a leetle bit better sitting, because it's more stable.

I am fairly sure I sing better standing, because I can breathe better. This is my own fault because I have acquired a little round gut. If I were skinny, and things didn't compress down there when I sat, I could probably sing just as well sitting.

I tend to stand to perform if doing two sets or less, and sit if it's three or more sets. Two is about the limit on the aging - hell, aged - spine.

Josh White, Sr., used to stand behind a straight chair, put one leg over the back with his thigh resting on the top of the back and his foot on the seat, and put his guitar on the elevated leg. That works well for me until the back of the chair cuts off circulation in the raised leg. I guess you're supposed to be taller.


25 Nov 02 - 11:05 AM (#834569)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: GUEST,Knock On Wood

We do two types of show. One is unplugged, purely acoustic except for those shows where the money and the room allow us to bring our drummer. He then uses drum machines. We all sit at those shows. The venues are generally smaller and our sound quieter. The seated position may not be optimum for our singing but we also aren't pushing as hard. The lower stage volume makes it possible to really work the monitors and being seated right in front of them allows us to absolutely bathe in the sound. This is the major appeal for us to doing these shows...that and the minimal amount of setting up.

We also do full blown rock shows with amps, excessive lights, effects, pedals, etc...all of the toys. There simply isn't any room for stools. I would like the theatrical effect of sitting down and playing the the quieter acoustic songs with more intimacy than the electric songs but we switch back and forth too frequently.

Occasionally at the seated shows I get a crick in my back (damn this getting old stuff) and I have to stand. This does allow me to leave the stage during an improv, should the muse move me, and I find the audience always gets a kick out of that.

25 Nov 02 - 12:00 PM (#834628)
Subject: RE: Sitting Or Standing
From: Dani

Well, I don't "perform", but I find it very difficult to sing seated. And some songs are IMPOSSIBLE for me to sing without standing up and moving around.