Vocal Coach Says: "You Are The Message" Part 2

YOU ARE THE MESSAGE Part 2: The Visual Side

As we moved to this, our new BLOG format I wanted to again feature this important article.  Just like “You Are The Message, Part 1,” this article hold a number of keys to moving from wanting to communicate, to doing it clearly and consistently.


It takes a lot of honesty, and a bit of reflecting, to deal with the visual side of presenting a single song or an entire concert.  But, the good news is that by adding the visual to the audio you have many more ways to get the job done.  That job?  To get the message of the song from your heart, to the listener’s heart.

The following are some areas to consider, evaluate and act on.  Before you look at that, however, you need to take an inventory of who you really are . . . now.  Not, whom you think you’d like to be some day, but who you are. Why all this analysis?  Because there has to be a comfortable connection between the audio message, and the visual messenger.  If not, there are dozens of things that can and will get in the way of a successful sharing.


As a counselor and mentor to a number of musicians I have often used a personality inventory test to get the conversation going.  It’s neutral, doesn’t care who the players are and is generally accurate. After using this test with myself, and my family I remember saying to Carole, “Am I really still doing that? Well, since you, and the kids are still seeing it in me, I guess I’m still blinded to some of my own actions.” All that to say, don’t be too shocked if you discover some annoying truths about yourself. Growing is a non-stop process.


Be age-appropriate in the way you look and act.  Wow. How does one do that? Since we’re dealing with physical and mental age it’s not always obvious.  For example, I’m 65, work with young musicians and teens, have a shaved head, ride a Segway for fun and travel the world with my wife teaching about the voice. I have no intention of retiring any time soon.  I think and feel young and workout every day but, like it or not, I’m not a kid, shouldn’t pretend I’m one or try to be one in concert. It won’t fly, and instead of taking advantage of my maturity and experience, I’ll look like an old guy who can’t accept where he is in life.

Dress in a way that compliments you and the situation. I can dress casual, moderately mod, wear an Italian suit or my favorite, shorts and a T-shirt, but I’m still me.  Why go into such detail about me? Because I see other people my age who are convinced that if they change their hair and wear smaller sizes they will magically become young. No they won’t. In fact, they will only emphasize their lack of self-acceptance and make the whole presentation less than believable. Enjoy your station in life, dress in a way that compliments you and rock on. If there are some tasteful changes you can make, such as taking off a few pounds and getting a new doo, great.

On the other hand, don’t fall into the, “I’m over 50, therefore I need to look as boring as the people I work with or others in my church. No you don’t. It gets back to identifying who you really are inside, then being that with joy and confidence.


Make sure you check out the physical setting and what the host’s expectations are for people who sing there.  Singing in a church? Some churches require a jacket and tie for Sunday mornings, but not for Sunday evenings or mid-week services.  Honor that, even if it’s not your norm and you have to borrow a tie.  Some churches could care less what you wear at any time, but do the research.  You’re job is to make sure you don’t let something as silly as clothing get in the way of your communications.


Find out the demographic of your audience.  If it’s 90% seniors they may not “get” certain forms/styles of songs. It is your job to change, not theirs.  If it’s a youth-based audience make sure your stories and testimonies apply to that age.  If not, you are not honoring their time.


Do your homework so that the message and the messenger are appropriate and ready to get the job done.  That job? Fully, completely sharing the message.

Perhaps your best tool is going to be some thoughtful interaction with yourself, some mature, trustworthy friends and a video camera.  Let’s all keep growing together.

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