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How to Sing with True Emotion (A Musical Moment)

In Guides for Musicians, Guides for Singers by Jake LLeave a Comment

Last updated on May 2nd, 2019 at 08:19 am

Singers truly have the potential of connecting with someone emotionally through their musical performance.  The ability to sing with emotion can differentiate the difference between an average singer and a singer that can leave an impact on someone’s life.

Whether it’s just one person or an entire audience, singing with true emotion allows you to connect with people on an entirely different level.

This is going to be for anyone who wants to improve their performance as a singer and be able to sing with emotion.

Let’s get started.

What Does it Mean to Sing with Emotion?

Singer on stage singing with emotion

So what does it actually mean to sing or perform music with true emotion?

Basically, it’s the ability to perform with an emotional connection to the song you are singing. It’s not about aiming to sing the song as perfectly as possible, it’s about giving a performance that truly feels genuine and can reach the hearts of the audience.

Singing with emotion doesn’t just relate to sad and emotional songs. There are many types of emotions that we as humans feel in our everyday lives.

We feel happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, anger, relief, and much more.

It doesn’t matter what type of songs you are singing, it’s possible to sing the song with emotion that takes your performance to another level.

Now let’s discuss how you can start improving and putting more emotion into your performance as a singer.

Creating a Shareable Moment

I was taught a very important lesson by my singing teacher back in college that has stuck with me ever since.

My singing teacher always taught his students an important idea to keep in mind whenever we perform music.

“People go to live music performances, not only to watch their favorite artist perform their favorite songs but to also feel the connection between themselves and the artist through the music they create.”

“Maybe the people who are watching you perform is going through something that is similar to your experience and listening to your song/performance shows them that they are not alone.”

After thinking about what my teacher said to us that day, I’ve come to an understanding of what he was trying to say.

People go to live musical performances, not just to watch and listen to good music, but to be a part of a moment and be a part of an experience with everyone there. More importantly, to share an experience with the artist who is performing.

Understanding the Meaning of the Song

When it comes to singing with true emotion, it will help you a lot if you understand what the message is in each song you sing.

However, the beauty of music is that everyone can interpret a song differently. So instead of trying to figure out what the songwriter originally intended when writing the song, try to find what the song means to you.

Developing your own personal meaning for a song allows you to personally connect with it.

The connection that you form gives you an idea of how the song makes you feel, allowing you to tap into your own emotions while you sing.

Try to analyze the lyrics and interpret them in a way that it relates to your personal life. Even the music in songs can be analyzed, seeing how a certain type of sound effects how we feel when we hear it.

Your Own Original Songs

A song you originally wrote is definitely going to be easier for you to personally connect with. However, try to dig even deeper when it comes to your own original work.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Why did I write this song?
  • Is it possible for my song’s message to be interpreted differently by someone else?
  • What type of emotions was I feeling when I was writing this song?
  • Does the song have a clear story?

Analyzing your own music will help you develop a better understanding of your songs, allowing you to deliver your song’s message with more confidence when performing it in front of others.

Relating to the Song and Audience

Relatability can form a strong connection when it comes to the songs you sing and to the people you are singing to.

Being able to relate to a song makes it much easier for you to sing with emotion. It may feel like you’re telling your own story through the lyrics you sing, even if it is isn’t your original song. Relating the song to the audience also helps you form a connection with them.

This helps the singer build a relationship with the crowd, overall making a great atmosphere for everyone there.

When you can be relatable to the audience, this helps build your relationship with them even more as you perform. The audience will feel a true connection with you as the performer, as you tell a story through your performance that people in the crowd can empathize with.

Tell a Story Through the Songs You Sing

Once you can relate to the songs that you sing and understand/developed a meaning for them, it’s time to tell your story through the lyrics.

As a songwriter, I personally think that songs are written to tell a story to the audience. Sometimes the theme of the songs can be difficult to decipher, but that’s what makes things interesting. Songwriters create these stories with themes that can be interpreted differently on a person to person basis.

As the singer, you become the storyteller of the song through your singing. People in the audience get the chance to listen to the song through your singing, or your musical storytelling. But not every storyteller tells the same story.

This is where you get the chance to tell your own story through the lyrics of the song. Not by necessarily changing the lyrics around, but through your delivery of the song.

How you sing, emote, and even act while you perform the song(s) changes how the story and message are delivered.

How to Practice Singing with Emotion

Singing with emotion is easier said than done, but you can definitely improve with practice.

Here are some good ways you can start practicing to sing with true emotion.

Singing in Front of a Mirror

Practice singing in front of a mirror during your practice sessions.

It’s best to work with a full-length mirror so you can see all your body movements and facials while singing. This allows you to work on how you emote with your body and facials when you sing in real time.

You can start making adjustments to your performance and explore different possibilities in how you approach your song while you sing.

This practice technique may be awkward for some who don’t feel comfortable looking at themselves sing in front of a mirror.  Don’t worry if that’s you, it may take some time for you to get comfortable practicing in front a mirror, but it’s the first step to being comfortable with vulnerability.

Record Yourself (Video and Audio)

Recording yourself while you practice singing is another way you can view your performance to make adjustments. What’s good about this practice technique is that you won’t have to worry about seeing yourself in sing/perform in real time, taking away some of that awkwardness that some may feel with the mirror.

Just set up your video camera on a tripod, or on any stable surface and start recording yourself singing during your practice sessions.

The key is to focus on emotions and body language with the thought that no one is watching. Some people are intimidated by the camera recording while practicing, but just remember that the only person who will see the video recordings will be you if you choose to do so.

Reviewing Your Videos

Once you have a video recording, it’s time to start reviewing it. Take notes on what you liked about your performance and what you think you can improve on.

Ask questions like:

  • Did my performance look stiff?
  • Were the proper emotions portrayed?
  • Did my body language and facials compliment the song I was singing?
  • Could my body language and facials become a distraction to my actual singing?
  • Is there any way that I could improve on my performance?

Performing Like You Are in a Musical During Practice

Anyone that has ever been in a musical or a play can tell you that stage acting is very exaggerated.

If you were to perform as if you were singing in a musical, it allows you to explore different approaches to how a song can be sung. By exaggerating your emotions, movements, and other actions while singing in your practice sessions, you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Once you have figured out some different styles and approaches to a song, you can start toning it done and preparing it for how you would actually perform.

Dramatically Read the Lyrics:

Dramatically reading the lyrics is a great way for you to analyze the song you are planning to perform. Sometimes being dramatic is a good way for you to get in touch with your emotions.

Reading lyrics dramatically is like when an actor reads over a new script. With the lyrics in your hand, you’ll begin familiarizing yourself with the song.

In the beginning, it’s best to just read over the lyrics normally without any dramatic emphasis, but once you are more familiar with the song’s lyrics, you can then start adding some dramatic flavor into the mix.

This exercise will give you a better understanding of how the song’s lyrics make you feel and at what parts of the song it does so.

Things That Could Hold You Back

Creating a moment while you are singing or performing music is no easy task. It may come naturally to some people, but for others, they find themselves struggling to put emotion into their performance.

This could be due to many different reasons.

  • Too focused on giving a perfect performance
  • Afraid of being vulnerable
  • No clear understanding of the songs you are performing
  • Intimidated by the audience
  • Low confidence in your performance ability

Too Focused on Giving a Perfect Performance

Photo credit: eflon on Visual hunt / CC BY

Giving a very good performance is important, however, it can be detrimental to your stage presence and to singing with true emotion if it’s all you’re ever thinking about while you sing.

You’ll find yourself more stressed out while you sing instead of having an enjoyable time. While you practice and prepare a song that you want to sing, try not to stress yourself out too much. Remember that singing is something that you love doing and it’s not the end of the world if you can’t sing a song 100% perfectly when the time comes.

Still, you should put a good amount of time into practicing the song, just remember to enjoy yourself while doing so. Once it’s time to perform a song, you’ll see a difference if you perform without the stressed out mentality.

Singing a song in front of an audience without all of that pressure that you give yourself allows you to focus on giving a performance that you can be emotionally attached with.

Remember that being prepared to perform a song is the first step to working on adding the appropriate emotion to your performance, but there is a balance that is required.

Afraid of Being Vulnerable

As singers who choose to perform their art in front of an audience, we truly put ourselves in a vulnerable spot.

In order for you to sing with genuine emotion, you’ll need to be comfortable with the idea of being vulnerable. If you find yourself having a hard time with this, your performance will look stiff and it’ll be hard to sing with emotions that can reach the audience.

We put ourselves in a vulnerable situation whenever we sing in front of people. We open ourselves to criticism and judgment that may come from our audience.

The trick to being comfortable with this idea of being vulnerable is to just accept it. We won’t be able to please everyone who listens to us sing. Being comfortable with vulnerability allows you to focus on the emotions that you are feeling while you are singing certain songs.

There will be one less thing that is holding you back from giving a performance that can create a moment.

No Clear Understanding of the Songs You Are Performing

Having no clear understanding of the songs you sing set you up for a dull performance. You may sing the song perfectly with no mistakes, but you’ll probably lack in energy and emotion while performing. And trust me, the audience will notice it.

It’s similar to actors who have to portray a character. Actors who don’t truly commit to the characters they portray can be seen as giving a dull or forced performance.

This is the same when it comes to singing a song. When a singer can completely invest themselves in the songs they are singing, it becomes more than just a performance. It becomes a story that is being told to the audience musically through the talents of the singer and other musicians. That’s what we call a musical moment that was created by the artist who is performing the song(s).

Remember to do your research and take your time to analyze any of the songs you plan to perform. Think of a character that you could portray while you perform as it may help you commit more emotion into your musical performance.

This will help you give a performance with true emotion, overall enhancing the experience of everyone in the audience.

 Intimidated by the Audience

Audience waiting for performer on stage

Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels

It can happen to any singer. The fear of being judged by an audience and putting yourself out there to be judged can be terrifying. It could even get to the point where it drastically affects how you perform a song that you’ve been working on for a while.

Learning to accept the idea that we can’t impress everyone has helped me with this challenge.

The most important person that I want to satisfy is myself when it comes to how I did in my performance. If I’m happy with how I sang during my performance, then I know I’ll be satisfied.

It’s all part of being a performer. Just always give your best possible performance. Don’t dwell on the idea that the audience is there to criticize your every move.

Do not fear the audience, embrace them.

Final Thoughts

Singing with true emotion can be challenging for some and easier for others. It is a skill that can be developed by any singer who puts in the work to continue progressing in their craft.

The emotion that singers give out during their performances allows them to connect with the audience and the song(s) on an entirely deeper level.

It’s a skill that can really separate an average singer from a great one. Your performance won’t just be about getting from the beginning of the song to the end.

You’ll be telling a story and delivering a message as a singer who can truly sing with emotion, creating a moment that is shared between the singer, the song(s), and the audience.


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