How to Wow With Your Set List


Hello singers and dreamers!

I’ve spent some time on this blog discussing the art of choosing the right song, and today I want to expand on that topic - what happens when you have to choose more than one song?!

I’m talking, of course, about compiling a pitch-perfect set list.

Set lists are an often-overlooked component of performance, especially for beginners, but they’re crucial to your growth as a singer. The right songs, in the right order, with the proper transitions, mark the difference between amateur and professional shows.

So how do you go about compiling a list of songs that will make you shine?

1. Know Your Audience

It doesn’t matter if classic rock is your jam; if you’re singing at a bar mitzvah, you’re going to have to tailor your song choices to the folks in the crowd. Of course, you don’t want to compromise your artistic style, but a happy audience equals a fulfilling shared experience, equals more gigs in your future.

That being said, you don’t need to go ENTIRELY out of your scope to please your audience. With a little research, and by keeping them front-of-mind while you prepare, you’re likely to find great songs that work with your style, abilities and the ultimate message of who you are and what you have to say.

2. Order is Important

Consider the energy that each song creates - faster pop songs get people up and dancing, whereas ballads are all about quiet introspection. Going back and forth between the two will only confuse your audience.

Likewise, too many of one style of song in a row will bore the pants off of them. Notice the rhythms and the keys of your song choices. We're looking for flow here.

3. The Beauty of a Smooth Transition

That whole thing about one song flowing into the next?

Don’t just rely on the songs to do that.

On-stage banter can be nice from time to time, but when two songs are a wonderful match you might want to keep the chatter to a minimum. Likewise, if you have what you know will be a jarring change of tempo or sound, make a note on your list to share, (something from the heart) or introduce your band; always honor your band.

Remember, this is not a rehearsal, nor is it a singing lesson. You’re there to communicate and share your craft, energy, and gift. Ideally, you are always telling your own story through each song.

4. Protect your Greatest Asset - Your Voice!

This is where you get to think almost exclusively about yourself!

If one song on your set is a bit of a stretch for you, and you know it, place it strategically: give yourself a couple of easier tunes to warm up with, and then rest after the big number with another gentler song.

At the end of a good set, you’ll feel like you’ve worked hard, but your instrument (your voice) will just be warming up and you have plenty more to give.

So get out there and tell your story through your voice, your song choice, and, most importantly, your heart.


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