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Musical Theatre – Don’t Just Sing The Song, Tell A Story

How often do you ‘hear’ the start of a song but then drift off somewhere along the way realising you were not ‘receiving’ what they were ‘sending’? Well it’s because they didn’t keep you ‘hooked’, and when they delivered ‘the hook’, the main idea of the song, it didn’t reach you, didn’t ‘communicate’, because you tuned out before they got there.

Every good song tells a story. But in order for that story to be heard, the singer has to be a good storyteller. Think Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Eminem, Tracy Chapman and many more.

But how exactly do you do this? Here are a few tips to guide you.

1 – Story Before Vocals

When you are able to properly communicate the story within the song, you become an effective storyteller. While that may sound far too simple, it isn’t really for many singers. If you allow yourself to get distracted by such things as your vocal ability or some other technical aspect of the song, you may lose track of the message which causes the message to get lost. If you sing as if you were talking to someone you know or someone in the audience, you will move from just singing to actual communicating.

2 – By Understanding The Story

So often you hear people sing songs about topics they have no understanding of and don’t relate to. You know this because the performance sounds incongruous and flat. It comes across as contrived. For example, if you’ve never had a broken heart, it’s hard to sell that kind of pain in a song. When you have a greater understanding of the story within the song, it will show in your performance. The more knowledgeable you are about what the song’s story is the better you will become at sharing it with others. It also means your storytelling abilities will be enhanced which the audience will pick up on and enjoy even more.

3 – By Listening And Learning

Learning a new song is challenging but it can be made easier if you look at the story in that song as you would a conversation.

4 – By Responding To Triggers

Once you have embraced the story in the song as if it were a personal story of one of your experiences, allow yourself to become vulnerable within the story. There will be a place where the song will trigger an emotion and if you can effectively translate that to your audience, many of them will also respond to that and other triggers within the song’s story.

5 – By Making It Real

When you are capable of turning someone else’s story in a song into your story and can sell it as if it was your story, the stunning notes you sing and the perfect musical arrangement just become embellishments of that story. When you can make it seem to be a real story about a part of your life, you turn that song into an effective story that touches others. When you believe in something, you sing it with conviction. If you don’t believe in what you’re singing about, you are considered a hypocrite.

The Big Sing Festival

It is just as the name implies. The Big Sing Festival is a full day of workshops where you will learn from professional coaches and performers like David Rogers-Smith who will be hosting a Musical Theatre Storytelling workshop. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, all you have to do is register to participate.

Who knows? You may be singing stories to others sooner than you think!

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