For me, being a musician is quite simply being a communicator. I communicate ideas, emotions, stories, and information through music. More specifically, I communicate through my singing voice. I have spent a long time learning how to communicate, first in an educational setting and now through performance. Good communication skills like: enunciation, vocabulary, presence, delivery, grammar, and syntax are all applicable to communicating through vocal music. These are the necessary building blocks a vocal musician needs to communicate well with their audience. But it’s not ok just to be good, if I want to get ahead, I need to be GREAT.
I’ve spent the last year or so reflecting on my growth as an artist, honing in on my personal values, and looking inside for inspiration. I’ve also spent some time looking at others’ work to find the great from the good. For me, what sets a good performer apart from a great performer is exactly what separates good and great communicators. Good communicators (performers) know how to utilize the basic communication skills well. Great communicators take those basic skills and incorporate into their performances: listening, honesty, openness, compassion, specificity, connection, and inspiration.
Listening can take a performance from a monologue (one sided) to a conversation (multi-dimensional). It’s the difference between someone who is speaking AT me and someone who is speaking WITH me. Knowing who is in the scene with me and what they are saying. Not just the people on stage with me; the orchestra, the accompanist, the conductor are all part of the scene for me. All of these people are there to help me, to guide me, and to support me in communicating at the highest level. I can really tell people who listen from those who don’t, because their performances become multi-dimensional, real, and alive.
A great communicator will also respond with honesty, openness, compassion, and specificity. Human beings are incredible at detecting dishonesty, and we know when a performer doesn’t believe in what they’re doing. For me, the path to honesty is about being open and compassionate about myself, my character, and my performance. Once I have opened myself to all possibilities and come to my practice with compassion, I can begin making specific choices in my performance. These specific choices speak to my unique interpretations and experiences which will in turn make my performance unique. When I am performing honestly I feel deeply and profoundly connected to my performance.
Great communicators have a way of connecting with their material and with their audience in a way that inspires. Ultimately that is why I perform; to inspire others. Music has profoundly inspired me in my life and my way of giving back is working to become a great communicator so that I can share that inspiration with the world. Inspiration is something that can’t be manufactured, it can’t be bought, it can’t be sold, it can only be experienced. A great communicator gives their audience an experience that inspires them to connect more deeply and profoundly with the world. That is a gift that keeps on giving.