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Tom Jackson and Samantha Testa

Stage Performance Tips Straight From Nashville

By:Lily C | Published:9/21/2012

Samantha Testa launched her career as a singer at the age of 14 and is clearly a young star on the rise.  She has opened for Chantal Kreviazuk, she sang on Capital Hill for theMartin Luther King Celebration, and she has performed for the American andCanadian Women’s Olympic Hockey team.  As she continues to build her repertoire by collaborating with songwriters from Nashville, LA, Toronto and beyond, she is also honing her performance skills.  This past summer she took a trip to Nashville to work with performance coach, Tom Jackson.  While she was there, she was recognized as a “Top Performer” and was awarded Nashville studio time.  Here are some things she learned.

In Samantha’s words…

Are you performing to your full potential? Do you create moments, optimize your angles and move from head to toe? Early last year I took a trip down to Nashville and went to a Tom Jackson Performance boot camp and it changed my life!  Tom and his team work one on one with artists critiquing songs and coaching live performances to help performers understand how to improve and develop a live show.

As artists we want to continually grow and improve as we mature in our music but we usually focus more on the music and our live show performance usually suffers! Today it’s all about the live show, and how you can ‘wow’ your fans and keep them talking about you!

Here are 3 of my favorite lessons from Tom that are essential in any live performance:

Creating moments:
There are parts in every song that almost scream for attention; whether it’s a sing-a-long, the bridge, a silent part…Etc. Those are the times where you as the artist need to create a moment. You want to create that “wow did you see that!” response; something that the audience will remember even when they leave the show. You need to take advantage of those moments because that is when you will be really connecting to your audience, your fans.

Using your angles:
On stage, (no matter how big or how small), there are 5 angles. Stand up straight and face the wall as if it were your audience; turn 90 degrees to your right that is angle #1. Turn 45 degrees to your left, angle #2. Back to the middle facing your audience is angle #3. Lastly angle #4 & 5 are 45 & 90 degrees to your left. Used properly, the angles help you to optimize your connection with the audience. They allow you to engage every single fan! Standing still and facing straight out into the darkness of the crowd doesn’t cut it anymore, its time to step up your game and start engaging your fans, use your angles to your benefit.

Head to Toe:
Many of us forget while we are performing that we have a lower part of our body! We get caught up thinking that only our upper body has to move, our hands and all our wacky facial expressions; but what about our legs? The lower part of our body has so much power and attitude it’s a shame to not use it! You need to make sure that while you’re on stage you are performing from head to toe, optimizing every inch of your body and the movements it can provide that accentuate the song.

If you want to take your show and your performance to the next level you need to incorporate these techniques into your live show.

So what’s next for me? Well I’m always writing, any way and with anyone I can. I’m performing as much as I possibly can and I’m using Tom’s techniques to help me improve my live shows. There really is a big difference when you step out of the box and start to notice the audience’s response, it becomes very addictive and you really never want to get off the stage!

Have fun, and get rehearsing!!

For more info about Tom Jackson:

Visit Samantha Testa’s Songwriters’ Profile