Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Singing Into a Spotlight

Singing onstage while being blinded by a spotlight can be disconcerting if you're not used to it. I got a great question from a reader about it; with her permission I'll post her question and my answer here:
Hi, Judy,

My gigs are mostly small, in dimly-lit rooms where I can make eye contact with people. I recently had an experience performing in a theatre seating 600, in which I looked out into the black abyss with a blinding spotlight on me. Felt like I was standing in the road at midnight with a motorcycle coming at me. Suggestions? Thanks, Devora Gila
My answer:
HAHA... yes, been there done that.. it can be disconcerting indeed to look out at the audience and see only "the LIGHT"!

Here's what I do:
I pick a spot in the whiteness, in the middle of where I think the audience will be sitting, and sing to that spot like it is a person. It WILL be a person... and they will think you're singing right to them. When you do this, everyone around that person will ALSO think you're singing directly to them, because that's the way it will look from their point of view.

I move this focal "spot" several times while I'm singing the song, to another place in the whiteness and sing to someone else. I don't do this rapidly, I try to make it real to myself and pace it as if I were really connected to each person.

Don't move the "spots" you sing to too far up or you'll be perceived as singing over everyone's heads. Keep them at about audience level. You'll get used to it quickly.

You can use this trick if ever you need to talk or sing to a camera. Many times you will be directed NOT to look at a camera when performing, but if you are supposed to (say for a video, or for a photo shoot) just look directly at the eye of the camera like you would look into human eyes... the eyes of whoever you'd logically be talking or singing to at the time.

This works in the "blackness" you see, as well. Just pick a spot in the general direction of where you think your audience is. Let me know how this works for you!
Comments, anyone?

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  • At May 22, 2009 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous Robert Anderson said...

    Judy, that's why it is important to during sound check , check where the lights are, and have them adjusted. If your gonna wear glasses, a blue or green tint knocks out the glare, pink, yellows and darks magnify the glare.

    Also, when you sing with your eyes closed , watch your step i saw a couple of big Nashville cats fall off the stage...oopps

  • At May 23, 2009 at 10:14 AM , Blogger Bluesy said...

    I didn't know where to leave this, but I just thought I'd wish you the most Happiest Birthday ever!! Hope it's a good one!!

  • At May 23, 2009 at 1:12 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Awee... thank you for the bd wishes... I'm already having a great day, and you added to it!

    love, Judy

  • At May 24, 2009 at 11:11 AM , Blogger Bluesy said...

    YOu're quite welcome!

  • At May 24, 2009 at 11:39 AM , Anonymous Jason O'Toole said...

    Great post Judy! Now I just have to work on getting the spots out of my eyes after the show.. that way I can actually see who I'm speaking to! Much love, be well..

  • At May 24, 2009 at 11:41 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    You know, this is so true... you have to be careful where you're going and who you are bumping into right after your eyes leave the spotlight. It takes time to adjust to the difference in light. Cords can trip us up, we can run over people, we can fall in holes... oh the danger in our profession can be for real :< !

  • At May 28, 2009 at 1:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    A most excellent explanation, Judy.

    I would have never been ready to do the band "thang" in Germany if I hadn't had a lot of practice doing musical theater and opera when I was younger.

    After a while, the lights became my friend, so to speak.

    Then there are those times when there is a power failure and lights, mics, amps and P.A.'s all go out and you have to wing it...great memories!

  • At May 28, 2009 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Hi Gordy... yes indeed, sometimes the lights become too familiar. When I got off the road (doing the big venues) and did a little songwriter in-the-round, I could see those people way too well and it was a bit disconcerting for me! It's what you do regularly that triggers the "it's safe in here" response of the adrenals. The irregular scenerios are the ones that get the butterflies moving!


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