Stage Disasters: What Do You Do?

Have you ever been on stage and all of a sudden something goes awry and your immediate thought is, “Oh no, no, no, no, please no!”  Yup, it happened: a performance disaster. What do you do now? Any singer with some amount of performance experience will have many stories of disasters to tell. Let’s take a brief look at some I am familiar with, and then plan a strategy to handle them in a sensible manner.

Incident #1: Many years ago I knew a singer who planned an overly produced album debut concert. By overly produced I mean radio sponsorship, two opening acts, professional sound engineers, and a big church venue. He went all out! Well, the day came, the cast of thousands showed up, and they opened the doors. This was his very first concert and a small crowd showed up at the door. That is a disaster in itself. But the real disaster was about to happen. Sound check completed. Opening acts did their thing. Now it was his turn. The band started playing the intro music, the radio DJ, in his best FM voice, introduced him as the music created tremendous excitement. The lights hit the stage with a flash. The singer makes his entrance. Uh oh!  He tripped on the top step as he entered and was now face down on the platform when he should have been singing. He full-on face planted as the lights hit him. The band vamped while he attempted to recover. You are now asking the question, “Well what did he do?” He got up and finished the concert without comment or acknowledgment of the incident. Maybe the question should be, “What should he have done?” In my opinion he should have acknowledged his embarrassing predicament, laughed at himself, and then started the concert all over again. The audience would have rallied to his side and possibly bought his new album. But he didn’t do any of this. He finished the concert and was never heard from again.  No joke.

Incident #2: I once had a student who was actively booking church concerts. She was really starting to make a name for herself locally. Everybody loved her and loved her singing. She started to book out of state and was performing in a church when it all went bad. Suddenly, in the middle of the concert the microphone she was using, which belonged to the church, fell apart. The mesh ball at the top fell off and that pulled the element out, which now faced the floor instead of her mouth. The innards of the microphone, wires and all, hung over the side of her hand facing the floor not her mouth. Once again you are probably asking, ”Well what did she do?” She stopped and told the congregation that, “This has never happened to me before, but we will somehow deal with this.” She continued on with her concert with that microphone. That was the only one the church had. She held her hand up near her eye with the microphone “stuff” hanging down towards her mouth and finished the concert. The church loved her! She completely resolved this problem the following Saturday by going to her local music emporium and bought a shiny new microphone. Bang Biscuit!

Perfection never happens. It is a myth… By admitting that something is wrong a performer lets the audience warm up to them as a person.

Incident #3: Another student scheduled his debut concert for a new album and was looking forward to performing the next Sunday evening. The first problem happened on the prior Tuesday. He was informed that his CD’s would not be ready in time for his concert. This was a harbinger of things to come! The church was already booked, flyers printed, and radio spots read. He had to go ahead with the concert. He arrived at the church venue, did the sound check, and took a few minutes to relax. He needed to because about a third of the way through the concert the churches amplifier in the balcony caught fire. I am not making this up. The concert was halted, the fire put out, and the singer apologized to the audience and announced that he had his personal amplifier out in his van. He then installed it while lying on his back in his performance outfit. After fifteen minutes or so he restarted his concert. They loved him and he presold a bunch of his new album. Nobody left the concert. I am sure they wanted to see what was going to happen. The album is still for sale on his website. He will be glad to ship you one.

Perfection never happens. It is a myth. I have told you three different stories; one of them was not handled well and two were. Two of them verbally addressed the problem while on stage and one didn’t. By admitting that something is wrong a performer lets the audience warm up to them as a person. The audience relates to a performer on a personal level because they’re just glad it didn’t happen to them. It also allows for God’s grace and mercy to enter the concert and to be shared by everyone in attendance. Not a bad thing to have at your next performance. Now go sing well! 

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Roger Beale has been writing the Vocal Coach’s Corner for over sixteen years.  He is one of the nation’s foremost vocal coaches.  He presently works with professional singers in all areas of musical performance.  His teaching and coaching facility, The Voice House, is involved in the management and care of the professional voice.  Many of his students have won prestigious vocal competitions and scholarships.  In addition, he has worked with Grammy and Dove award winners and nominees.  He also offers vocal clinics and seminars, as well as assistance in recording sessions.  Roger is an adjunct professor in the Fine Arts Department at Point University, website: www.point.edu.  Roger can be contacted at: The Voice House, 1029 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 276, Peachtree City, GA 30269, 404-822-5097, e-mail: rbeale251@gmail.com.

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