Performing Live – Reba McEntire’s Best Tips (MasterClass Review)
This is part 5 of my full review of Reba McEntire’s MasterClass. You can see all of the parts to the class in order here:
- Course Intro
- Performing Live
- Student Sessions
- The Country Music Industry
- Building a Career
- Final Review
- My Cover and Review of “Whoever’s In New England”
This is week 5, and we’re talking about Live Performing. This is a sponsored post, just so we’re clear, but MasterClass is amazing and I’m sure you’ll agree!
Reba McEntire’s MasterClass – Performing Live
I am outspoken about my fear and loathing of live performing, but clearly I’m a studio singer and that’s where I love to be. I can tell the difference when hearing Reba McEntire talk about her love of performing. She says she loves the attention. Christina Aguilera said something similar. I would honestly rather do almost anything else, so this just shows me that I’m in the right place in life, as are they.
Watching Other Performers
“I have stolen SO MANY ideas from other acts,” Reba says without shame. “I mean, how many people have come out of the ceiling?” She has a point. I’ve never considered whether or not people copy off of other performances, but it makes sense. She recommends doing this as well because no idea is truly original. She studied Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and even noticed what they said between songs to connect with the audience.
I will recommend that you use only YOUR OWN stories between songs though. I am sure Reba doesn’t steal their exact stories because it would sound completely inauthentic. Tell a story about the song, or something funny that happened backstage.
Working With Nerves
She suggests telling yourself, “this is going to be the BEST SHOW of my life!” and keeping a positive attitude. I am not a positive person (Bojack Horseman is my spirit animal), so this would be tough for me.
“For anyone who’s watching, dreading live performances because of nerves,” she says directly to me, peering into my soul, “accept that as a gift.”
She suggest turning nerves into anticipation and excitement. This is actually a proven technique, and I guess I have found it sort of successful. I would just rather not do it at all.
You don’t have to start out charismatic or appealing to watch. Many artists didn’t, so you can use critiques to improve your performance. She says you should watch how the audience responds to what you say, so that you can tailor your next show based on their reaction. It’s also important to have people who listen critically in order to help you grow. Celine Dion’s manager/husband used to record her performances and make her watch them to see what she did wrong. It’s important to keep people in your life who will be honest with you.
She also said pay attention to when people are leaving for the bathroom. If they all go at once, that means you’re losing them. You can try to bring them back into the show by doing a song they know and love.
It’s really important to put thought into your setlist. The first song should make people excited to be there and introduce your show. The final should also excite them. I know that whenever I do perform live, I arrange songs by my vocal ability. I know that my lower notes will be more clear in the beginning of the show, and as the show goes on my voice will get tense and I’ll lose my lower range a little. So I always have my lower songs sooner in the set. You’ll want to do this according to your own voice, which you’ll figure out over time.
Christina talked about her worst stage stories, and Reba did also. Every performer has them, and while they’re awful when they happen, they make for good stories later. Reba talked about an absolutely horrible time she had on stage where she had no band and tried to tell jokes that bombed. People booed her and told her to get off the stage. Afterward, the stage hand suggested that maybe she should quit. It was cringey and awful, but also funny and inspiring. Reba made it! You can too.
There was also a few great personal stories of her performing, and we get a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry
And with that, it’s time for my shameless affiliate plugs!
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