Using Visualization and Sense Memory

Singing Tips from Michelle Cohen

You ultimately want to own a song. For it to be something that no one can imagine hearing any other way. So here are some deeper, more intimate techniques of attaching yourself to your song using visualization and sense memory.

This is more acting craftwork. Sometimes it will be unnecessary for certain types of songs where it is more about the music than the character or the story being told. Nonetheless, it is great to have these tools to use when the song calls for it.

The first thing to do is notice what images the words and the music evoke for you when you think about the song and also when you sing it. If you are singing Gershwin’s “Summertime” and you are visualizing a ski lodge, you might want to switch the imagery going on in your head. What does summertime evoke for you? Are you sitting on a cool shady porch, sipping ice cold lemonade, wiping little trails of sweat off your forehead, letting your body relax to the smell of barbecue, the sound of crickets and the sight of little kids running to the ice cream truck passing by?

Notice I am using descriptive words and all of the senses to conjure this image. The more you can taste that lemonade, or feel that lazy, contented body, the more you can give to the lyric. Actually imagine yourself singing from that place. Then just to prove this point, go to that ski lodge. Imagine the freezing crystals on your nose that haven’t melted yet as you desperately attempt to warm up by the blazing fire. Feel the prickly tingling in your body as it begins to thaw out. Now try to sing about summertime. A bit different, yes?

Whenever you sing a song without having done this homework, chances are you are putting incorrect or at least un-thought out images into your song. These sense memory exercises can be done in either of two ways. You can go back into your personal memories and find detailed aspects from your own experience. Or you can let your imagination go wild and cook up something very juicy and provocative. The whole point is to get your blood flowing and for these sensual images to move you. So whatever works, I say use it!

Keep in mind, you could have an automatic response to a song or to a lyric. If that is the case, your innate creativity has already done the job for you and you don’t have to push it. (more…)

How To Win Over Your Audience

by Michelle Cohen

What does an audience want? I think it boils down to five basic needs:

First: Be yourself.

Ultimately, the whole point of singing is to express who you are, your emotions, your personality, what YOU have to say to the audience. Believe me, you are interesting enough and how you approach a song will be of merit if it is truly coming from you.

Second: Entertain us.

Basically, know why you are singing to us. If it is to make us laugh, go for it. If it is to move us, please do so. But if you are up there simply singing for yourself and you forget that there are other people in the room, that’s frankly not too many people’s idea of a good time. Keep the audience’s needs in mind while you are up there. By all means entertain yourself as well; just don’t leave the rest of us out. (more…)