I used to do a demonstration for my students showing the importance of first impressions.
I would walk on to the stage, stand casually – chest low, face neutral, then open my mouth as if to sing the first note. I’d repeat the process with a wide open ‘can’t wait to start singing’ physical and facial expression – chest high – then once again open my mouth to begin to sing. Without ever hearing a note, they were able to agree that they expected the second performer to be a better singer.
I realized that when the curtain opens on a choir we’re not getting the benefit of witnessing the confident striding of the performers onto the stage – there’s no movement to help the audience prepare to hear something great.
This very simple trick changes all that.
In addition to having their faces show some eager anticipation, ask your choir to shift their weight – very subtly – and individually, forward, back, side to side or even diagonally. It’s important that the movement by every individual be small enough not to attract attention to that person – but the overall effect of this broadcasts an excitement about the performance that’s about to happen.