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Victoria Rapanan's 18 Rules for a Powerful Performance

Preparation - Do Your Homework!

  1. Know your music - inside and out. Know the arc of the song.
  2. Work on the technical aspects. Get all of the rough edges handled technically so that you are comfortable singing the song and can take ownership of it.
  3. Know your text. Understand the meaning and significance of every word, even if it’s in English!
  4. Know your character and plot.  If singing in character, you must know who your character is and know the story line. What is the purpose of your song? To whom are you singing?  Know the who, what, where, when and why.
  5. Say the text as a monologue in the mirror. If in a foreign language, paraphrase in your own words first, then say the text as written, with the natural inflections of speech. Make sure your facial expression and body movement are natural (with the exception of stage gestures for dramatic effect).

Preperformance (just before you sing)

  1. Know what your strengths are and where they lie in the song. What makes you special?  Use positive affirmations and images well ahead of time.
  2. Remind yourself of your 2 most important technical issues. This can change from week to week, or song to song. Examples may be: make sure to stay open, breathe deeply, loose tongue, focus, low larynx, etc.
  3. Think about what you will be expressing in the song. Be ready mentally, physically and emotionally.


  1. Focus before singing!  Look forward to singing what you have to say.
  2. Really sing and communicate from your heart. Why did you choose this song?  What message do you want us to get? Remember the arc? Take us there!  Give the audience the gift of your song.
  3. Tell the story with your voice AND how you breathe.  It’s all in the music and the text, and you deliver the story.  The breath is part of the expression and starts the phrase.  Your tone quality paints the picture.  
  4. Commit yourself 100% to your performance. Keep the 10, 20 or whatever percent for technique that you need in the back of your mind, and devote the rest to communicating the text and music.  YOU create the music.
  5. Don’t forget your visual presentation. You express not only through your voice, but also through your facial and bodily expressions and your eyes.
  6. Keep up the commitment! This means through every rest and through the end of the very last note of the song.  Everything means something.  Don’t forget to stay in character no matter what!


  1. Bow and graciously accept your applause.
  2. Always acknowledge your accompanist.
  3. Acknowledge yourself for doing your best, knowing that no one is ever perfect, and that you are getting better all of the time.  Be happy for being blessed with your voice and the privilege of sharing your music with others!  


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