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OPEN MIC PROTOCOL - October 2010

OPEN MIC PROTOCOL - October 2010



  • AGAIN, shut up and sing!  I will keep saying it until you listen. In an Open Mic situation, it's all about getting as many people up as possible. If you talk for 10 minutes before you do your one song, this means that 2 other people cannot sing that evening. It's inconsiderate, rude and considered bad Open Mic form.


  • Have the courtesy of staying for the entire show. We have all had other shows or engagements to go to and/or baby sitters and/or early meetings the next day. I know that I have had to leave on occasion myself, it happens. But, for the same people to come, sing and leave every single week is again, rude and disrespectful to their fellow singers.


  • Know that you cannot always go on first or in the beginning of the program. The hosts usually have higher level singers that pop in that they should use first during the time when the audience is the largest. Expect to “pay your dues” and build your reputation at any new Open Mic and don’t come in expecting VIP treatment if the host does not know you or your talent level.


  • Have the courtesy of listening to your fellow singers. They listened to you. If you must say something to someone, at the very least, lean in and whisper. No outdoor voices!


  • When you arrive at the Show or Open Mic, check-in with the host and let them know you are there. If it is the type of Open Mic that you have to sign up for, tell them your name even if you think they should know it. "Hi, Sue Matsuki, I'd love to be on the list tonight. Do you have room for me?" OR call or email ahead of time and put yourself on the list.


  • Silence your cell phones and do not text during the show.


  • If you have to leave early, you do not tell the host you must sing by such and such a time you simply say, "I wish I could stay for the whole evening, but I can’t. If you can possibly get me on by (time), I'd appreciate it. If not, no problem, I'll sing next time."  If it is getting late and you decide to leave, let the host know so that they do not call you up and you are no longer there. This will guarantee you the 1:00 am spot the next time you go!


  • Have your music in your key or have the transposed key written in the upper left hand corner. If you can get your sheet music transposed, it always helps you sound better. We are spoiled by the pianist that I work with here in New York who all have the ability to sight transpose at the drop of a hat but you cannot assume that everyone can do this like these guys can. There will be a "vocal car crash" if a pianist can't. DO NOT look back at them like it's their fault! What did you hand to them? You were unprepared. What I would suggest is bring up a 2nd piece of music that is in you key just in case they say they cannot transpose your tune. ALSO…


  • DO NOT ASSUME THAT THE MUSICIANS CAN READ MINDS! I saw this guy give a pianist a piece of music and it started out ok but by the time he came to the bridge, he started to do all this vocal stylin' with notes that were not on the sheet music. The band is there to help you sound the very best you can sound, you have to give them a chance to make this happen. Sing the music as written or have someone create a chart for you.


  • You can also quickly just say to the musicians, “I’m doing this two times through. You guys take the 2 As the 2nd time around as your solo and I’ll come back in on the bridge.” OR “Two times through. I’m scatting on the 2 As the 2nd time and then coming back in at the bridge.” Communicate!


  • If you have not rehearsed your ending (and in an Open Mic you usually do not) and if it is not charted that you want to do a tag, tell them before you start the song OR ask them to watch you at the end. A “right on” fist up in the air tells them that you are going out and they will stop immediately so if you do this, know how you are going to end it and they will usually come in at the end.


  • Learn how to count off your musicians. If you don't know how to do this, lean in to the pianist and start to sing a little of your tune quietly so that they can feel the tempo. Slapping your hand on your leg in time may also help them get the tempo you desire.


  • When called up to sing, go up promptly, give your music to the band and tell them (briefly) what you need from them as I discussed above, answer any questions the host may ask you or shill your upcoming gig if you have one, give a one line intro (if you must) to your tune and sing. This is the process. Afterward, thank the audience, the band and the host, take your music back from the band and leave…SHA-POOPIE!




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