Competition is getting intense for American Idol contestants as they face massive cuts for the fifteenth and final season of the show. Fans of the show relish the drama, emotional life stories, and sheer talent that have characterized American Idol from the outset. Being a winner takes more than just knowing how to sing—and that’s true for every musician, whether you’re competing in your school’s talent show or on the big screen. No matter what competition or show you’re preparing for, follow these star-worthy tips to help you nail your performance:
It’s not enough to play or sing the song without mistakes. Stages can do strange things to performers both physically and mentally. You need to know the song—notes, words, and expression—inside out to protect yourself from errors caused by nerves. Celebrity vocal coach Cari Cole has worked with numerous American Idol contestants, helping them find their artistic voice. She recommends practicing with and without accompaniment when you’re preparing for a performance. “When you know it a cappella, then you’re not relying upon what’s happening musically…it just makes it more solid for you,” Cole says. For musicians who normally practice on their own, be sure to schedule plenty of rehearsals with your accompanist before you venture on stage.
Technical accuracy is only half of a winning performance. The other half is how well you communicate through the music. The most memorable Idol performances are those that stir the audience’s emotions, bringing tears or inspiring awe. Everyone loves to see the judges’ jaws drop during an especially moving performance. That’s not happening because the contestant got the notes right. It’s happening because of the delivery. Cole tells performers: “Whatever you want your audience to feel, you feel it. If you want your audience to feel the pain of that song then you reach down inside yourself and you feel that and you…learn how to bring that to your face. That’s what you are doing as a singer, as a performer, is communicating.”
3. Be Yourself
Your song may have been sung or played by an artist you really admire, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to be that person when you perform! Trying to imitate another artist will always leave your performance feeling flat, because you won’t be utilizing your own unique strengths to their full potential. Candice Glover, winner of American Idol Season 12, advises performers to “be exactly who they are because that’s when things start to work out…That’s the best advice I could give.”
This may be the last season of American Idol, but there will always be opportunities—and requirements—for musicians to perform in front of a live audience. When it’s your turn, make sure you’re prepared, reach inside yourself, and give your audience a performance you can be proud of.
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