[Perform-Talk] Questions about Stage Presence and Choral Performance

Cricket Bidleman cricketbidleman at gmail.com
Tue Aug 2 18:13:29 UTC 2016

Thanks so much! I'll definitely work on that. Do you think I should
send the choir director an introductory email ahead of time?

On 8/2/16, Julie McGinnity via Perform-talk <perform-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi Cricket,
> Welcome to the list!!  So glad you've joined here!
> I have also sung in choirs for years and have always enjoyed myself
> immensely.  Katelyn's suggestion to listen for your section breathing
> together is exactly what I recommend as well.  You will hear it, and
> you will be able to follow it.  Soon you will feel as though you are
> anticipating the breath of the choir, and that will be a cool feeling.
> :)
> As for stage presence...  Allow the emotion of whatever song you're
> singing to show on your face.  Don't be afraid to allow the song to
> influence you to show the feeling in it.  Smile when you feel it, and
> look angry when that's called for as well.  The only thing you can do
> wrong here is nothing at all.  If someone tells you that you are
> smiling too much or making weird faces, ask them to describe how you
> can do better.  The choir director will tell you how to stand and will
> give tips on how to present yourself on stage.
> I have had a lot of people giving me a variety of tips over the years
> in choir.  I have learned to take some of it with a grain of salt and
> to simply mold some of my expressions into something a little quieter
> for a choir setting.  For example, you may not want that happy huge,
> cat-ate-the-canary smile when singing in a group.  :)
> As for movement while singing...  You can ask the teacher or another
> student to show you the movements as the rest of the choir is learning
> them.  If the teacher can be super clear about describing movement to
> you, then that is the perfect solution; however, most people have a
> hard time telling rather than simply showing.
> I hope this helps!
> On 8/2/16, Cricket Bidleman via Perform-talk <perform-talk at nfbnet.org>
> wrote:
>> Thanks so much to everyone for your advice. It's very helpful, and
>> I'll definitely try everything until I find something that works for
>> me. Thanks so much!
>> On 8/2/16, Katelyn MacIntyre <katelynmacmusic at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi Cricket!
>>> Welcome to the list! I believe we also met at the airport in Florida.
>>> That's
>>> wonderful you will be in choirs this year! I have sung in choirs for
>>> almost
>>> 20 years in several countries, and I absolutely love the collaboration
>>> and
>>> beauty that can only be achieved by choral music. Usually one of the
>>> first
>>> questions a conductor will ask me when singing with a choir or soloing
>>> with
>>> an orchestra is "can you see my hands at all?" After assuring them it's
>>> not
>>> going to matter how close I stand to them, I usually tell them that I
>>> will
>>> just breathe with the rest of the choir or the conductor themselves if in
>>> a
>>> solo setting. This has never been a problem for me. Generally, the entire
>>> choir, or at least your section – soprano, alto, etc. – will start the
>>> phrase together, and thus must breathe together beforehand. It's rather
>>> easy
>>> to listen to the people around you breathing, and even if you come in a
>>> split second after they do, no one will be able to tell. I've never tried
>>> having the conductor count before, but that definitely seems like a
>>> reasonable accommodation if you are comfortable with that, though I can
>>> see
>>> how that may be distracting and take away from the ambience of the piece.
>>> Hopefully the above suggestion might be helpful to you. You could even
>>> ask
>>> the person next to you to slightly lean against your arm when the
>>> conductor
>>> is making their prepatory gesture so you have more time to prepare your
>>> breath. Of course, this is primarily for a cappella pieces. When there is
>>> accompaniment that begins before the singers come in, you should have no
>>> problem knowing when your entrance is based on memorization of this in
>>> rehearsals.
>>> As far as hand gestures, dancing, movement etc., I would first ask your
>>> teacher to be as verbal as possible when explaining the movements the
>>> choir
>>> is supposed to do as she teaches them. If it's not clear what something
>>> is,
>>> I usually ask to put my hands/arms over someone else's to feel what they
>>> are
>>> doing rather than having someone try to manipulate my body not knowing
>>> what
>>> the ultimate goal is. This could be the teacher or even the student next
>>> to
>>> you if they understand the movement. If there are still questions, you
>>> could
>>> ask the teacher to show you the dance/gestures at another time when you
>>> can
>>> have more one-on-one attention if you feel they are going to fast in the
>>> regular rehearsal, or maybe even ask a friend to clarify some things.
>>> Everyone has their own method of learning movement, so you may find that
>>> somethings work better for you than others. Remember that you will most
>>> likely not be the only one new to movement on stage though, so don't be
>>> afraid to ask questions!
>>> As far as stage presence, I'm sure there are many opinions and much
>>> advice
>>> on how to get more confident, but first I would say just be yourself. If
>>> it
>>> makes you feel more comfortable, and you are performing at your school or
>>> somewhere in town, you can get some time on the stage before hand to be
>>> comfortable with the layout, risers, etc. As you sing and act the songs,
>>> think about the text and lyrics – what are you singing about? What is the
>>> emotion in mood of the piece? This will help you portray stage presence
>>> already as you present an attitude in alignment with the music you're
>>> singing. Good posture and self-confidence are always helpful. Don't
>>> forget
>>> to flex/slightly bend your knees though! Just enjoy making music with the
>>> people around you. If the song is joyful, smile! If it is somber, think
>>> about the depth of the text. That's where it all begins. Sorry if that
>>> sounds a bit vague, but I hope it is helpful in someway.
>>> Please feel free to contact me with any more questions or to clarify
>>> anything I've said. I look forward to hearing what others may contribute
>>> as
>>> well. Warmest Regards,
>>> ~Katelyn MacIntyre
>>> www.facebook.com/KatelynMacMusic
>>> Vice President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division
>>>> On Aug 1, 2016, at 7:22 PM, Cricket Bidleman via Perform-talk
>>>> <perform-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>>> Hello All,
>>>> Apologies for the blank message. It sent before I could write
>>>> anything. I love technology but sometimes ...
>>>> Anyway, just a quick intro because I haven't done one yet. I'm Cricket
>>>> Bidleman. I'm starting my senior year of high school later this month.
>>>> I live in Morro Bay, California, which is halfway between San Diego
>>>> and San Francisco. Almost no one has heard of it ... We did get an
>>>> honorable mention in "Finding Dory" though.
>>>> I'm emailing because I had some questions about choral performance. I
>>>> will be in my school's Concert Choir and Chamber Choir this year. I've
>>>> never been in a choir before, so I was hoping some of you could
>>>> provide some advice. In the past, I have been in orchestras and
>>>> things, and my music teacher would always count the beat of each song
>>>> for me right before we performed it. Is there a way to bypass this? I
>>>> noticed that some of the judges in our music competitions weren't so
>>>> happy with this, and although it's a perfectly fair accommodation, I
>>>> have to wonder if there's a better way to do things. What do y'all
>>>> think?
>>>> Also, Chamber Choir sometimes does some dancing with their music. Have
>>>> any of you had experience with this? I'm an absolutely atrocious
>>>> dancer. While I could have someone move my arms in the required
>>>> positions and stuff, this seems a little bit unnecessary and odd, and
>>>> I'm sure there's a way to get around that.
>>>> Stage presence is so important, even in music. I have, however, had no
>>>> experience whatsoever with acting or singing in a choir, so do any of
>>>> you have any tips on stage presence as it relates to a choir? I'm so
>>>> excited to be getting some fresh perspectives on this. Thanks! Feel
>>>> free to email me on or off list.
>>>> Best,
>>>> Cricket Bidleman
>>>>> On 8/1/16, Cricket Bidleman <cricketbidleman at gmail.com> wrote:
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> --
> Julie A. McGinnity
> President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division,
> Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri
> "For we walk by faith, not by sight"
> 2 Cor. 7
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