This week’s column deals with Open Mic/Variety Show Protocol.

  • I said this in a previous column but it’s worth repeating…shut up and sing!  I will keep saying it until you listen. In an Open Mic situation, it’s all about getting as many people up as possible. If you talk for 10 minutes before you do your one song, this means that 2 other people cannot sing that evening. It’s rude.
  • Have the courtesy of staying for the entire show. We have all had other shows or engagements to go to and/or baby sitters and/or an early meetings the next day, I have and I have had to leave on occasion myself, it happens. But, for the same people to come, sing and leave every single week is again, rude.
  • Have the courtesy of listening to your fellow singers. They listened to you. If you must say something to someone, at the very least, lean in and whisper.
  • When you arrive at the Show or Open Mic, check in with the host and let them know you are there. If it’s the type of Open Mic that you have to sign up for, tell them your name even if you think they should know it. “Hi, Sue Matsuki, I’d love to be on the list tonight.”
  • Silence your cell phones and do not text during the show…again R-U-D-E!
  • If you have to leave early, you do not tell the host you must sing by such and such a time you simply say, “I wish I could stay for the whole evening, but I can’t. If you can possibly get me on by (time), I’d appreciate it. If not, no problem, I’ll sing next time.”
  • Have your music in your key or have the key written in the upper left hand corner. If you can get your sheet music transposed, it always helps you sound better. We are spoiled by many of the MD’s here in the city who have the ability to sight transpose at the drop of a hat but you cannot assume that everyone can do this. There will be a “vocal car crash” if a pianist can’t. DO NOT look back at them like it’s their fault! You were unprepared. AND…
  • DO NOT ASSUME THAT THE MUSICIANS CAN READ MINDS! I saw this guy give a pianist a piece of music and it started out ok but, by the time he came to the bridge, he started to do all this vocal stylin’ with notes that were not on the sheet music. The band is there to help you sound the very best you can sound, you have to give them a chance to make this happen. Sing the music as written or have someone create a chart for you.
  • Learn how to count off your musicians. If you don’t know how to do this, lean in to the pianist and start to sing a little of your tune quietly so that they can feel the tempo. Slapping your hand on your leg in time may also help them get the tempo you desire.
  • When called up to sing, go up promptly, give your music to the band and tell them (briefly) what you need from them, answer any questions the host may ask you or shill your upcoming gig if you have one, give a one line intro (if you must) to your tune and sing. This is the process. Afterward, thank the audience, the band and the host, take your music back from the band and leave.

Sue Matsuki

Dream it, Believe it, DO IT!

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