One of the most common questions I get is on Stage Presence...how can it be developed? What can I practice to get my stage presence tighter? How can you teach someone stage presence? I get this question over and over in hundreds of variations.
Stage presence is one of those things that really starts to develop when what a person is playing becomes almost second nature. It's kind of like the walking and chewing gum thing...haha. My guess would be that if you are having trouble with your stage show you may need to get the songs down even tighter so you don't have to concentrate on what you are playing quite as fully and that will free you up to move around a bit more comfortably. Personally I like to be able to play a song without having to think about it at all before I perform it...it frees me up to put on a show and not worry about the notes that I am playing, where my fingers have to be, when the change is coming up. Actually a Ra sound check, for me, is also a stage check...after I get my guitars, mic and monitors dialed in I scope out the stage. Where are the coolest spots to stand, any uneven spots in the stage (don't want to twist an ankle),where is the high ground (aka - what can I jump off of...haha), how high is the ceiling? (I have hit my head or smashed a guitar more than once! Ouch.) That is what is going through my head during a sound check because I already know the songs, I'm not there to practice em...So the question is; how can you prepare yourself for putting on an absolutely sick stage show?
There are a couple of tricks that can help speed up the process for sure. One would be to have the band (or just yourself) practice in front of a large full length mirror so that you can actually see what you look like for yourself. In the early days with Ra we used to do this at all rehearsals....we actually also practiced with lighting that was closer to what it would be in a club setting. Back in the day all we really had was a handful of colored bulbs, but that in itself made a big difference because stage lighting can be a lot dimmer on-stage than what you are typically used to at a rehearsal and this can drastically change the way you see the fretboard and whatnot...the change in lighting can make things confusing, especially in a situation where you are already concentrating hard on what you are doing...when things start to get confusing you get ripped right out of your comfort zone and great stage presence comes from having that comfort on-stage.
Another thing to try while getting started is just jumping up and down (or swaying) in time with the music as you are practicing. Simple as it sounds, it adds one more thing to concentrate on while playing the song and forces actual physical movement, but by doing it in time with the song it will be easier to keep your place within the song and that is the first step to really getting comfortable moving around while you are playing. From there you can branch out and try more complicated things as it becomes easier, always try to kick it up a notch.
Really, what it comes down to is comfort level. If you comfortable with playing the song or set, it'll start to look like you are comfortable while playing. If it's a technical proficiency holdup, there is no quicker way to progress than lessons with a pro because the pros have already overcome these obsticles and know exactly how to do it! At RockSource360, we've got the best instrument instructors and vocal coaches in the world...guys that have actually been there and done that...guys that know what it takes to get comfortable with your playing to the point where “putting on a show” becomes second nature.
Ben Carroll is a founding member of the band Ra (Universal/SMR.) Ra has released 5 records over the past 7 years with combined sales reaching a half million units. Ra has had multiple charting radio singles, songs used in multiple movies, television and sporting events, has played with the biggest bands: Korn, Godsmack, Disturbed, Seether, Alice in Chains, the Deftones, to name but a few. Ben teaches live, 1-on-1 guitar lessons to anywhere you can get a high-speed internet connection right here on RockSource360. The ESP & Mesa Boogie endorsed guitarist has just released his second instrumental solo record “A Dream Between Two Fires.”