came first, the audience or the performer? Was the first
performance of all time inspired by a random group of
people in need of entertainment? Or, were the caves
and forests of yesteryear filled with lone singers belting
out their hearts without ever intending to present their
talents to others? These aren't silly questions if you're
passionate about performing. Because the answer to this
"chicken or the egg" paradox provides the
key for connecting with modern-day audiences. And while
I'm not quiet old enough to have been there at the beginning,
there is a lot of evidence as to how the first gig must
a man at the dawn of humanity. He's walking along looking
for food on some random Friday when he stubs his toe
on a rock, again. The guy is not only in a fair amount
of pain but also really aggravated. What are the chances
of that happening twice in one outing? He can't think
those actual words because he has yet to develop language
but he knows he's not having a good day. Not only has
he scared away any potential meals with his angry cries
but he's also caught the ear of a nearby human who cautiously
heads in the direction of the commotion. The curious
onlooker crouches behind a bush and watches as the injured
man vents his frustration by shrieking and howling at
the top of his lungs. And so, in this very unceremonious
manor, the first performance unfolded. Musicologists
and critics will later refer to this type of emoting
as "rock music." After all, it was inspired
by hitting a stone.
knowing each other, a connection was made between those
two ancient people. The spectator was captivated by
the expressions and sounds of the other man because
he related to the feelings. He continued to spy as the
unsuspecting performer's voice then swooped up in delight
upon discovering some berries, and then groaned downward
in disappointment as the last berry was consumed. The
vocal sounds triggered feelings of empathy in the one-man
audience. Bonding with the stranger, he also released
a sigh when the berries were gone, inadvertently calling
attention to himself. Suddenly aware that he was being
watched, the performer's heart skipped a beat as he
realized that his actions had captured the emotions
of another person. Wanting to explore this new connection
further, the performer was sorry to see his audience
scurry away into the forest.
next night the man who had witnessed the impromptu performance
wanted to share the experience with his woman. This
being a time well before political correctness and without
the ability to actually ask her if she'd like to see
something interesting, he simply dragged her by the
hair until he found the man he had spied on. Not only
did this create the still-honored tradition of Saturday
being date night, but it also doubled the audience of
the previous day for the rookie performer. So the stage
was set but just before the second gig of all time could
get under way, something unexpected occurred.
fright seized the performer's mind and body. How would
he recreate the special circumstances that existed the
day before? What was it that made his audience return?
He desperately wanted to connect with these people yet
he was in the dark about their desires. At a loss for
what to do he ran over and purposely kicked a large
rock with his bare foot. It certainly hurt but not like
the day before. Embarrassed, he stifled his discomfort.
His audience sat stone-faced. Then he grabbed some berries
and woofed them down. He scanned the two onlookers for
approval; bypassing the enjoyment he had previously
experienced when eating the fruit. No reaction from
his audience, until the woman shot a disapproving glance
to her man for dragging her out of the cave for nothing.
familiar? Since the second gig in history performers
have struggled with trying to please an audience. And
since that second gig, audiences have been subjected
to a hit-or-miss chance of attending a great live show.
What was true then is true now: An audience is most
interested in how the performer feels. The first gig
was spontaneous. The connection was real because the
feelings were real. The next night the performer was
so preoccupied with the mood of his audience that he
failed to connect his emotions to the actions of his
show. It's a simple rule: The singer leads the room.
Let down your guard and feel something and the audience
will be yours. Step on stage with your shields up and
you're in for a long night.
human responds to basic emotions in the same way. We
all cry when sad and laugh when happy. There are no
exceptions anywhere on the planet. All healthy people
communicate with melody in their voices as an extension
of their feelings. Our pitch rises when we're excited
and falls for disappointment. These are the same melodic
cues that every song attempts to capture. In other words,
music stimulates our emotions by imitating the sounds
we produce naturally. On hearing a melodic cue, we quickly
assess if the gesture is authentic. If we deem it real,
we begin to search our own feelings for a connection.
many people feel uncomfortable navigating their emotions
in public. They clam up and close the pathway from head
to heart. The irony is that these are the people who
would gain the most from opening up a little. So it
is up to the performer to create an environment safe
enough that the biggest hold-outs surrender to their
emotions. That's why your audience has ventured out
in the first place. They long to feel something but
don't know how to get out of their own way. It's the
old safety in numbers theory - which is why performers
and audiences alike love a big crowd. The flip side
is why it's such a challenge to have a good show when
there are only six people in the club.
always, it's best to lead by example. On any given night,
during any song on the set list, there is an opportunity
to connect with your emotions - and therefore your audience.
You don't have to act out the lyrics. Think big picture.
Joy, love, loneness or heartbreak are all typical song
subjects because everybody can relate. To keep your
performance real, draw from your experience. The heartbreak
you're singing about doesn't have to be the heartbreak
you're feeling. You can reminisce about the family dog
that recently passed away during a break-up song. If
you're still missing that pooch your audience will pick
up on those feelings and start searching their hearts
for what they miss most. Before long everyone is tearing
up. No one has to know that the "she" that
left you had four legs and a very cold nose.
which came first? The answer is neither audience nor
performer. It was emotion that started the whole entertainment
business. And it is the pursuit of an emotional experience
that draws people out of the comfort of their modern
day caves and brings them elbow to elbow with strangers.
It is an agreement with the way you feel about things
that will inspire someone to start your fan club. So
start connecting the way you feel to the songs you sing
and inspire your audience to explore their emotions.
Because no matter how well you can sing or play, it's
the way you make people feel that is remembered most.
Baxter is a vocal therapist who offers private and
To contact him, call: (800)659-6002. Visit his website
Origins of St. Patrick's Day
As with almost any holiday's origin, there seems to
be multiple recordings of how St. Patrick's Day began.
Almost all sources agree that St. Patrick's name was
originally Maewyn Succat. They also agree that Maewyn
was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 16
and, because of this, he became closer to God. Some
sources say he was born in Wales in 385 AD, while others
believe he was born in Britain in 387 AD.
six years of slavery, St. Patrick escaped to France,
where he became a priest and then the second Bishop
to Ireland. He spent 30 years converting pagans to Christianity
and established schools, churches, and monasteries across
Patrick was said to have used a shamrock as a metaphor
for the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) showing
how three separate units could be part of the same body.
People began wearing shamrocks on their clothes to his
sermons. Green is the most recognizable color during
this holiday as it represents spring, shamrocks, and
date of St. Patrick's death is not agreed upon. Some
say that he died on March 17th, 461 AD. Another possibility
is either March 8th or 9th and the days were added together
to get March 17th. What we do know for sure is that
the holiday came to America in and was celebrated in
Boston for the first time in 1737.