While playing on stage, whether solo or with Piano Fondue, I often want to let the crowd sing certain parts of the tunes. This can be difficult to accomplish unless you’re super comfortable with it. I have a couple tips and tricks I’ve gathered through the years to help out. Keep in mind – you are going to be asking people to step out of their comfort zone, so you’ll be walking a tightrope between pushing their discomfort and reinforcing their confidence. It’s an art, so the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
1) Make sure you know the song pretty cold. At least well enough to be thinking significantly ahead of where you are currently singing. If you seem unconfident, they won’t be willing to step up.
2) Make sure it’s a song they know pretty well – at least the part they need to sing. Whatever part you’re super comfortable with is probably the part that they’re super comfortable with, so give that line to them.
3) It can be helpful to let them know before you start the song that you’ll be asking them to sing along. Something to the effect of “I’ll be needing your help on this one” can clue them in to paying attention.
4) Cue the crowd a good beat or two ahead of time, either with a “sing it!” or a gesture their way. It also can be clever and effective to come up with a question to ask on the mic that the line they are to sing would answer.
5) Cutting the music short right before they’re supposed to come in gives them an aural space to fill. (Pro tip – don’t cut on the beat. Cut it on the half or another unusual spot to jar them into paying attention.)
These final tips are really important.
6) Don’t try to sing along with them. If they see you singing, they’ll stop to listen. You want them to sing. Let them.
7) If they don’t come in right away, don’t try to fill in the space. They’re feeling the awkwardness too, and most of the time will step up to fill it for you. And if they don’t, make a joke about it. “Well, that didn’t work” or something to that effect lightens the mood, and makes everyone feel a little more confident to sing the next time through.
At the end of it all, sometimes a crowd just doesn’t want to sing along. They’d rather just sit back and enjoy the show. That’s fine. Maybe toss a couple tries at them throughout the show, but don’t push it. Remember, they are there to have a good time. Let them!
Musicians – are there any tricks you use to get a crowd to sing along? Music lovers – have you seen someone who was particularly good at getting the crowd involved? Share it in the comments.