Most people know that to perform at a high standard, they need to plan their performance. In fact, you get marks for it in more than one judging category (SAI). So most barbershop quartets will have a plan for each song: dynamics, tempo, rhythm, phrasing, breath plan, choreography. Some will even have planned for embellishments, emotions, faces, vocal colour – and will plan a SET of songs as a whole performance – that is, the bits in between too!
Sometimes planning what the audience is doing can help lift your performance from great to standing-O.
At a certain level of singing, we may sing a phrase and be emoting the message: for example “come back and forgive me, please do (please do)” from O How I Miss You Tonight. Go from the introversion of feeling that message, to thinking about sitting in the audience, listening to the phrase being sung. As an audience member you want to music to wrench at your heart on “come back” then be released as the lead soars up to “and”, then the abject piteousness of “forgive me”, then the transfiguring beauty of the “please do” echoes drifting to perfect silence should leave you holding your breath, totally suspended in the music.
OK, I’ve really gone to town on that one, but that’s the idea! How does that change the way you think about singing the phrase? You may not end up articulating it in quite that detail (!) but feeling from the audience’s perspective as you sing will totally connect you with them (that’s called Audience Rapport on your score sheet) and will result in a magical experience for all of you!