I’ve been teaching singers of a wide range of abilities and experience for years now. But one thing keeps cropping up across the board: Where can I practice in front of an audience?
I have a few good ideas which I always share with my students, and I will list later in this post. However, I am very aware that there is generally a look of horror when I make my suggestions! So what is the answer?
This brings me to my latest endeavour of performance workshops. Something I have thought about for a while, but I can’t wait any longer. This year I will be setting up a workshop where people can come and practice in front of a small audience. The audience will be made up entirely of other students rather than being open to the public. If this is something you would like to try, then please get in contact here.
For the bolder, more experienced or just curious of you out there, here’s a list of places you can practice.
Open Mic Nights
Check out what is going on in your local area. Open mic nights are a great safe space to try out something new. If you’re nervous, I would suggest going to watch once just to get a feel of the night and then set the intention of taking part the next time. The main thing to look out for is whether other singers accompany themselves on an instrument, use a backing track, or is there a house band or pianist that will back you? Make sure that you are prepared with the right backing when you are ready to participate.
I don’t think there are many singing teachers out there that would suggest it, but I’m all for it. You can’t get a safer space, in my opinion. The only advice I will give is to lay off the alcohol before singing! Otherwise, just have fun. You’ll be in good company.
3. Cabaret Nights
This is great for the more experienced singer, especially if you tend to sing more musical theatre repertoire rather than pop. There are so many cabaret nights in London, and I’m sure around the UK. Do your research, and like the open mic night, go to watch once to check out how they run the night. Some will run it like an open mic night with a resident pianist, so you can just rock up with your sheet music. And other nights will be booked artists. Don’t be afraid to put yourself forward. These nights will tend to have 4 or 5 different acts and you each do 10-20 mins. It sounds a lot but it’s really only a few songs.
I’m not talking about headlining at Glastonbury! If you accompany yourself on guitar or something else portable then this is a great informal option. Different festivals have different policies but generally you can play in the camping area and then you don’t have a set audience, just people going about their day. If they like you they may even stop and listen or even join in.
There are many more options out there but I think these are the most accessible. And they are definitely the most approachable for beginners. Be bold. Performing is scary if you’ve never done it before but if you don’t try, you’ll never do it. Please get in touch if you want any advice on this topic, or leave me a comment of places you like to practice performing.