The Art of Performing and Engaging an Audience for Singers

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Authored by Philip Lima, David Jiles


Course Code: OVOIC-330

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


There are many ways to engage your audience, and one of the aims of this course is to show you several of those systems and methods that have been developed to help performers deliberately and thoughtfully create artful, engaging, moving, and memorable performances.

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In this course, you’ll engage in practices focused on developing imagination, concentration, and dynamic emotion with the goal of creating your personal audience engagement practice routine. Additionally, you’ll be expected to apply these strategies in actual performance.

The course employs the following tools and techniques to help you create a practice routine in audience engagement:

  • Reading and video-viewing assignments, including theoretical and practical discussions of important concepts, along with analysis of iconic/influential performances
  • Close observation of your own and classmates’ performances, including partnering with classmates for such observations
  • Written self-assessments, including journaling
  • Drafting specific plans for addressing challenges in audience engagement
  • Application of tools from allied disciplines, such as acting, to build audience engagement skills
  • Creation of a personal engagement plan and implementation of the plan in an actual performance

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Define what it means to engage an audience effectively
  • Define and explore the qualities that go into audience engagement
  • Experiment with and develop a framework for identifying and addressing various performance techniques that enhance engagement, including drafting set lists, stage plots, band member interactions and more
  • Explore three pillars of engaging an audience in performance: Text, Gesture/Action, Motivation, and Fourth Pillar: embracing vulnerability
  • Explore and experiment with performance exercises that aim to develop their artistic instincts
  • Explore the different performance types (live, digital streams, recorded) and techniques for audience interaction best suited to those performance types
  • Develop your own individualized performance persona
  • Develop a framework for self-analysis and reflection to continually improve your performance and presence
  • Develop strategies to overcome stage fright
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: What Is Engaging Performance?

  • Somatic Experience: Centering within and Noticing the Body in Space
  • Atmosphere: Physical, Psychological, Metaphysical, and Mystical
  • Concentration: Inside-Out
  • The Framework: Scientific Method
  • Assignment 1: Chekhov’s Technique Experiment

Lesson 2: Exploring the Pillars through Chekhov and Laban

  • Exploring Chekhov: Psychological Gestures
  • Exploring Laban: Efforts and Actions
  • Motivation: Purpose and Intention
  • Performing Action: Levels/Qualities and What If?!
  • Assignment 2: Practical Application of Chekhov and Laban

Lesson 3: What is Audience Engagement?

  • Engaging Your Audience or Loving Your Audience
  • The Structure of How You Tell Your Story
  • Arc: There’s Been a Change within Me, Something Is not the Same
  • Presence (Anna Davere Smith) The Eyes Have It
  • Assignment 3: Storytelling and Performance of a Song

Lesson 4: It’s All about THEM

  • All the World’s a Stage
  • Connecting the Stage to the House (and Beyond)
  • The Venue Managers Are Part of the Audience
  • Blocking and Balance
  • Audience Reaction—Can You Handle It?
  • Assignment 4: Stage Banter

Lesson 5: Mindfulness: Finding the Extraordinary in the Routine

  • Mindfulness Is More than a Mindset
  • Exercise Is not Just for the Gym
  • Emotion and the Whole Body
  • The Steps to Your Ritual
  • Assignment 5: Pre-Performance Rituals

Lesson 6: Flow: Your Creative State

  • Flow State
  • Empathy vs. Ego
  • Meditation and Flow
  • Just Bring Emotional Life
  • Assignment 6: Daily Practice for Creative Expression

Lesson 7: Letting Go of Perfect: Finding Treasure in Errors and Surprises

  • ‘Errors Are Inevitable, But Suffering as a Result of Them Is Optional’
  • Practice with imperfections
  • Performance Alchemy: Errors as Moments for Creation
  • Embracing the Unexpected
  • Assignment 7: Practice Regimen for Error Management

Lesson 8: Keeping it Fresh—A Practice of Intentional Interaction

  • Interacting with the Audience as Co-Creators
  • Interacting with Your Bandmates
  • Interacting with Your Artistic Identity
  • Interacting with and Caring for the Rest of You
  • Assignment 8: Application to an Upcoming Performance

Lesson 9: Movement, Gesture, and Other Non-Verbal Communication

  • How Do You Naturally Move?
  • What You See Is What You Get
  • Keeping It Real
  • Freeing Up the Body
  • Assignment 9: Assessment of Non-Verbal Communication

Lesson 10: Engaging Live Audiences Online

  • Opportunities; the Pros
  • Learning from Our Actor Colleagues
  • Challenges for Online Audience Engagement
  • Divide and Conquer
  • Assignment 10: In-Person vs. Online Audience Engagement in Practice

Lesson 11: Practice Makes Progress

  • Performance Skills Can Improve (But It Takes Practice)
  • Self-Analysis
  • The role of Feedback, Instruction, and Coaching
  • What and How to Practice
  • Assignment 11: Self-Analysis and Paired Interpersonal Feedback

Lesson 12: Putting it All Together: Your Audience Engagement Toolkit

  • Define It
  • ‘Nothing to It But to DO IT!’—Applying the Routine in Real Life
  • Assess It
  • Perform and Practice It
  • Assignment 12: Assessment of Your Audience Engagement Toolkit


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites, except the desire to explore stage performance craft.



  • Students are required to record video while performing with a backing track for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)



  • Students are required to capture their vocal performance in high quality, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • XLR microphone suitable for singing and audio interface (recommended option)
      • USB microphone suitable for singing
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (required if multitracking and/or input monitoring)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need an XLR cable, microphone stand, and pop filter.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Philip Lima

Author & Instructor

Baritone Philip Lima has sung leading operatic roles in Germany and for regional American opera companies in repertoire ranging from traditional favorites by Handel, Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi, to important works of twentieth century masters such as Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, and Viktor Ullmann, to the comic masterworks of Gilbert and Sullivan. Of particular note have been his featured roles in the world premieres of operas by jazz greats Leslie Burrs, Nathan Davis, and Mary Watkins, and by award-winning composer Larry Bell.

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He has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops and more than 70 orchestras, choral societies, and concert series across the United States and in Korea and Ukraine in beloved choral masterpieces as well as concert works by Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, and Lee Hoiby (his setting of the “I Have a Dream” speech of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). He is featured on the recording of pioneering African-American composer Florence Price’s Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight that won the 2020 American Prize for the Performance of American Music.

Mr. Lima serves as the assistant chair of Berklee College of Music’s Voice department. Read Less

David Jiles

Author & Instructor

David Jiles Jr (he/him/his) is a Black Boston-based professional actor, singer, and teaching artist. He is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music where he teaches voice, acting, and musical theatre. He also teaches theatre and voice at Emerson College. He is an illustrious performer with many theatre credits in Boston. David performs more than 60 gigs each year, and is passionate about exploring the connections performers create with an audience during live performance. He has nearly 20 years of professional acting and teaching experience. David serves on the board of StageSource; an arts service organization in Boston. He is a proud member of Actors Equity and Musical Theatre Educators Alliance. David is also an avid Yogi, and is a 300-hour-certified yoga instructor. David completed his undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College, and his graduate studies at Emerson College. He is in progress to designate in the Linklater Voice Method; a training methodology on freeing the natural voice through psychosomatic voice exercises and physical exercises.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, The Art of Performing and Engaging an Audience for Singers can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:

Related Degree Major


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