I had a gig the other day at the prestigious Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 1), New York. Although I’d been to this venue several times as an audience member, it looked and felt totally different as a performer. When I got there for soundcheck, I realized that I needed to change the layout of the stage in order to favor me as singer-pianist. The low-level lighting and small stage created a few problems that I had to take into consideration.
Photo Jul 28, 5 24 05 PM (HDR)
It got me thinking about how important a stage layout is and how it can affect a performance.

1). Interaction With The Audience

Pay attention to your position on stage in relation to the audience. Your stage craft and persona should not depend on how close you are to the audience but it may affect how you interact with them. For years, I would get so scared to look at audience members when I sang as it would make me so nervous but now I can’t perform with even just a bit of eye contact. I feel like my message gets across a lot more fluidly when I have that opportunity.

2). Your Interaction With Your Band Members

Positioning your band members can affect the delivery of your performance. You and the music director at the very least should be able to have eye contact so you can communicate. If you are the band leader as well as the artist, make sure everyone can see your hand gestures.
There is always a general layout of a band. (Bass and drums should be placed together, background vocals should be side-by-side etc). Take these general rules into consideration when deciding on band positioning.

3). Your View Of The Audience And Vice-Versa

Can the audience see you? Sometimes, because of the sheer size of a grand piano, I’ve been hidden in a corner. Certain parts of the audience later complain they couldn’t see me. Always be aware of how visible you are otherwise what is the point of being on stage in the first place.
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