Entertaining can be very rewarding, but it can also feel like a huge responsibility. When anyone takes the stage in front of thousands of fans, there’s a job to do and a lot at stake.
Entertaining is as much as an art form as the music one plays. It takes many years to learn that when a true entertainer takes the stage, that the concert is not about the entertainer, it’s about the people in the audience. The entertainer is not the star, the audience is the star.
For example, for many years I used to take the stage and the first thing I did was to start blasting away and showing off my quick hands at the piano trying to impress the crowds, my fellow musicians, and myself Project free tv. And it worked, to a certain degree. I have a thick press kit of critics comparing me to the legends but the problem was that it didn’t translate at all into good CD sales. In fact is, the better I got, the slower my sales.
What was happening? I was playing for my own pleasure expecting audiences to dive into that realm with me. Some did, but others became alienated because they just didn’t have the musical knowledge to go there with me. Also, I was playing from ego and not from the heart.
Many performers seek validation outside of themselves by showing off and many don’t even care what the audience thinks. But, the truth is, most should care what the audience thinks and what the critics think. Because, bigger audiences and more press equals more gigs and more money.
However, seeking the approval of colleagues, media, critics, and fans can be self-absorbing and self destructive if you’re not careful. You should care what the audience thinks but at the same time be conscious of not trying not to impress them..
Personally, I’ve only been star-struck twice in my life. The first time was when I was a teenager and I saw Oscar Peterson perform in Toronto. I said to myself, “hey, I want to do that” and began to pursue my dream to become a jazz pianist. And, not just any jazz pianist, a highly trained and technical pianist like Oscar. It took some time but eventually the critics started to compare me to Oscar, and others would compare me to Bill Evans, or Keith Jarrett. But, my CD sales were still slow and my bank account was very small.
The second time I got star-struck happened in Montreal when I attended a seminar by famous author and speaker T.Harv. Eker. I couldn’t believe it but, he kept over 2,000 people on the edge of their seats for 3 entire days just by talking. He was extremely skilled at enrolling and engaging audiences.
And that’s when my mind shifted. That day, I laid out a lot money and signed up for one of T. Harv Eker’s courses. The result? That training changed my whole approach to concert performances and my life.
While I had always possessed a natural ability to entertain, I learned that I didn’t really understand how highly choreographed and entertaining were supposed to be. Certainly I understood that lighting, good production and communication with your audience from time to time was a good thing. But, I learned that just by using a proven template for winning presentations I could up the ante quite a bit.
The difference in my career was dramatic. I changed almost overnight from self-absorbed and trained technical performer to an entertainer. And, the best part is my sales increased exponentially. And, I didn’t have to give up jazz to become an entertainer. I just had to learn how to package it.