Performing musicians practice our instruments away from the stage in order to make the best music we can. How can we practice audience interactions?

In many performances, interacting verbally and nonverbally with the audience is integral to the experience: talking about the history of a song, pumping up the crowd, playing to particular people in the audience, making transitions between one piece and another, stalling for time while retuning an instrument, ....

But there are pitfalls: awkward personal stories, running out of things to say, rambling, ....

What practice techniques/exercises can be used outside of performance to develop these interactive, audience engagement skills?

  • Note: This is a sort-of-duplicate of Talking with the audience in a show. It was decided in a chat discussion that the topic was better served by a new question. Hopefully this will serve.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 7:04
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    I don't see what this has to do with music at all. It's a question about being a musician and performing, but it's not about music. Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 7:10
  • It's very borderline. And I think the skill can only be learned/honed while at gigs. Some are naturals, others just keep on playing...
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 9:11
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    I kind of appreciate the idea that being a musician doesn't have anything to do with music.
    – ojs
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 9:29
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    @ElementsinSpace Music is culture. People doing things with people, for people. It's not a natural science where substances are measured and analyzed under a microscope in a laboratory and theories are compared with measured results. The whole "objective truth" ideal that's implied in the design of this site is absurd, when it comes to music. Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


This is going to sound funny, but every time I practice, I do so by performing as though I am front of the live audience.

I strap my guitar on, plug it in thru my pedal board and amps, and I stand up to the mic stand that is plugged into the music room PA system.

Whether practicing by myself solo, or in a full band practice session, I perform each song as though the audience is out there in front of me.

I keep eye contact with fictitious audience members, I introduce each song with the same patter that I intend to use during live gigs, and move around and smile as though we are in the club, bar, or open air stage.

Practicing while seated (in front of sheet music or the computer) isn't doing me any good at all. There's no point in it for me.

My band mates have gotten used to this quirky habit of mine, but they accept it as part and parcel of 'professional preparation'.

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    My most recent band, the band mates were 100% on board with this. We didn’t always practice this way because we also had writing focused practices where we spent a lot of time talking and experimenting with different song structures, etc. But as we geared up for gigs we wrote set lists and ran them down just like we planned to at the show. All facing the same direction instead of each other, etc. Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 12:49
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    Same here. Last practices before a gig were always "performing to the wall". We also made sure to time our "fake gigs" to make sure we are not over or under estimating the lengths of our sets. Also, we made sure to really "lock in" to the tempo of all songs. A good way to do that was to find a line of text or a specific guitar phrase that only worked in a specific tempo. E.g. there was one of our songs which had a line of text that was pretty impossible to sing of the tempo was too fast. So, you'd only have to sing that one line to yourself to get the tempo of the song. Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 15:37
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    Same here. I would add to that practicing in front of a full-length mirror. Look at what the audience sees.
    – empty
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 2:59

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