It never ceases to amaze me just how difficult performing outside is. Whether it be on a grand stage or in the middle of a field, whether professionally engineered or a cappella, it can be a pretty difficult experience.
I’ve performed outdoors a great deal, as well as conducted many performances with choirs and singers. It’s difficult. It always is. You are battling against the elements of heat, cold, wind, rain, poor acoustic, and sometimes, with inexperienced engineers and performers. But it’s you job to make sure you deliver a great performance and remain professional throughout the experience. No matter the platform, you must ensure you deliver as if you were on the perfect stage.
You are much more vulnerable in the open air. The environment might not be as stable as you would think. A sudden gust of wind ? Rain ? A little person trying to get on the stage or talk to you ? Whatever it is, you need to be prepared. Unless something is hazardous, let it be – concentrate on your performance, not whats going on around you.
But there are ways in which we can make the experience a good one and maximise our performance potential.
- Be prepared. Decide in advance what you are going to need for your performance.
- Communicate clearly with the organisers of the event what you will need and understand their setup.
- Get to the venue early and do your own recce.
- Speak to the sound engineers and identify their setup.
- Communicate what YOU need, whether it be mics, monitors, inputs on the sound desk for your own equipment.
- Work out the logistics. Think about what the ideal performance will look and sound like and plan its implementation. Know what you will do and when. Imagine a huge venue with a huge audience and what that would look and sound like – apply it to the scenario. EVERY performance is important no matter the size.
- During your performance, don’t fret about how you think it sounds. Let the sound engineer worry about that, and make sure he is at the desk throughout your performance, ensuring optimum sound.
- Keep going – no matter what happens, keep going and deliver – any failings around you will be theirs not yours.
- Sound engineers have a notoriously difficult job when working outside, battling with acoustic, noise, wind, equipment issues and the general public. Be grateful for their work and their efforts.
- Be your very best.
Just remember, every performance is important, and not all things are equal during it, but your consistency is key. Your professionalism and your attitude towards the event is paramount to the success of the performance, so just keep smiling and deliver!