Want to make your vocal stand out and draw people in? Top vocal coach and session singer Jono McNeil shares his tips for delivering a killer vocal performance.
Jono McNeil, lead coach on The Voice Kids, recently shared his singing journey with listeners of iSingmag’s podcast (if you haven’t tuned in yet, you really should, even if we do say so ourselves). He had some wise words to share on the secrets to delivering a great vocal. Here are his tips.
Many people think a great vocal is produced off the cuff, with little thought or consideration. Not so, says McNeil.
“All the great tracks that we hear have thought behind every syllable,” he says.
Don’t just wing it. When you get a chance to work with great musicians or a top producer, be prepared and make every moment count.
“Every single millisecond of that vocal needs to be perfect,” he says. “It needs to say something. It needs to mean something. It needs to have stylistic information built into it and be true and authentic.”
Blandness is the enemy
Make sure you inject personality and colour into every vocal performance.
Even if you’ve performed a song hundreds of times, think carefully about the lyrics that you are singing and breathe life into the music.
This advice applies to singer-songwriters too. In his coaching work McNeil often spends time talking through the meanings of songs with artists – even when the artist has written the material themselves.
“A lot of the time a song is written in the moment, but when reproducing it in a performance that meaning gets lost.”
Don’t over-think it
It’s one thing to sing beautiful notes, but don’t focus on technique to the detriment of making a connection with the audience.
“Technique is an amazing servant and a terrible master,” McNeil says. “If technique is the master then you’re going to have a very bland, lifeless performance.
“People want to see someone who is real and authentic. One of the most annoying compliments an artist can get is ‘your technique seems to be great’. If your audience is thinking that, then the artist is missing the point. People should be enamoured. They should feel a connection.”
In the competitive, ever-changing music business, it’s normal to experience negative thoughts and self-doubt. If left unchecked, these minor worries can quickly become major anxieties.
McNeil believes meditation – something he practises every day – can help singers retain a sense of perspective and purpose. (Learn how to get started with meditation HERE).
And if you’re worried that bringing an aura of calm into your life will blur your creative edges, just chill.
“Meditation isn’t about nullifying any areas of our creative output,” McNeil says. “It’s being able to see them with a greater clarity and work with them more easily.”
Listen to the full interview HERE.