For performers

Some notes on playing at the club

Performance standards at MFC, as with all folk clubs, vary enormously, from semi-pro right through to raw beginners who have never done it in public before. We’re not ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – we don’t judge, or call time on poor performances with electronic raspberries. That doesn’t mean to say we don’t appreciate good performances. The more you put into preparing your turn, the more you and your audience will enjoy it. It’s not easy to learn lyrics off by heart, but at least try to make sure you’ve got the melody right – few people will enjoy your singing if the tune’s wrong.

The better you know your material, the more you can concentrate on your performance. By all means have the lyrics to hand in case you get stuck, but it will come across better if you know the song well enough to engage the audience at least some of the time.

If you’re nervous (aren’t we all?) start the evening with something simple that you know well to get yourself in the groove. Save that difficult song you’ve been working on until you’re feeling more relaxed.

If you do mess up, which is totally normal, try not to do the rabbit-in-the-headlights thing – if you laugh about it, they will still enjoy your turn and cheerfully forgive you.

SINGING – TIPS FOR BEGINNERS (from a singing teacher)

  • Sing out and sing up, so they can hear you at the back. When practising, stand up and try projecting your voice. But don’t go all out for volume as some folkies do, or your voice will lose its musicality.
  • Sing from your chest and diaphragm, with full lungs, not from just behind your teeth, so your song can set sail with a fair wind behind it.
  • Practise planned breathing, so you’re ready to sing every note, particularly the high ones and those at the ends of lines, on a reasonably full set of lungs.
  • Open your mouth much wider than you would in speech – you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
  • Enunciate every word as clearly as you can.
  • Hold notes on vowels, not on consonants (eg ‘caaaaaan’ not ‘cannnnnn’). Some pro folk singers haven’t learned this!
  • Tackle difficult top notes by plucking them quietly down, not by charging at them.
  • You can gain vital energy from your audience – the trick is to sing to the smiley, happy, receptive faces and ignore those who look as if they’ve just opened their gas bill. (If you have to read the lyrics, you won’t be able to do this.)