It’s a bit of an oxymoron isn’t it, being prepared to “wing-it”? Isn’t the idea of winging-it all about not being prepared? Ah, I beg to differ. “Winging-it” is ALL about being prepared.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re out to hear some music, maybe your friend is playing at a local club. During the course of the evening said friend asks you to sit in with the band and your mind becomes a complete blank. You can’t seem to think of anything to sing! Or maybe you’re at a party and someone pulls out their guitar and starts an impromptu jam session. You want to join in and can even think of a bunch of songs to sing, but you’re not sure that you know all the words and you have no idea what key you sing the songs in. Many great performance opportunities can happen very unexpectedly. Be prepared so you don’t miss out on the fun!
To be prepared, I recommend that every singer have a “book”. These are the songs that he/she can confidently sing at any given time, rehearsed or not. It can be a physical book with lyric sheets and chord charts or a mental “book”. It doesn’t need to be a large book, but should contain at least a few different songs, each appropriate for a different performance situation (full band club gig, intimate get-together, campfire sing-along). You should know the key in which you like to sing each song (chord charts are always great!) and should ideally have the lyrics memorized.
Performing confidently in impromptu situations actually requires quite a bit of preparation. While it may appear to be “off the cuff” it’s really anything but. So put your “book” together and the next time you’re unexpectedly asked to sing, you can smile and confidently say, “absolutely, I’d love to!”
What’s your favorite “impromptu” performance story? Mine involves a 10-piece band and a castle in France…