Perogies and Jam in collaboration with the Wendy Brook Festival hosted an all-day stage performance workshop led by Rhea March from Edmonton. Rhea is a stage musician, producer, an artist development coach, hosts a weekly Open Mic and is a radio show host. This was like the workshop she held for Perogies and Jam in June 2011 and we were thrilled to have her come back again!

The Performance Matters! Workshop was particularly timely as it is the season for the annual Wendy Brook Festival and the upcoming 2nd annual Vegreville’s Got Talent. There were 10 participants ranging in ages from 10 years old and upward who came to enhance their stage performance by redirecting their nervousness.

The doors opened at 9:00 am and welcoming comments were made by Don Harfield on behalf of Perogies and Jam, Larissa Bombak of the Wendy Brook Festival, and Rhea March. Some of the attendees from the previous workshop in 2011 were volunteering as assistants during this event.

Following Rhea March’s lead, each of the participants introduced themselves and explained why they wanted to learn more about how to enhance their stage presence and how to redirect their nervous energy (some called it butterflies, anxiousness or stage fright!). All agreed that it is normal to be nervous in front of an audience. However, it soon became apparent that the audience is eager to respond and encourage the performer, and this shared relationship can be nurtured by positive engagement starting right with the performer’s stage entry.

Rhea then performed a skit with the aid of MC Don Harfield. Rhea responded to the MC introduction with a demonstration of intentional awkward moments and things you shouldn’t do through this entertaining skit. Each of the participants described how they felt in empathy for the portrayed situation and shared how many of the awkward moments were what they also experienced. Rhea then re-enacted the scene demonstrating how to confidently come on stage, engage with the audience and being ready to perform a song.

The attendees then learned how to adjust a microphone stand, use a microphone, connect with the sound technician, introduce themselves and thank the audience at the end of each song and at the end of their intended set. Each participant practiced these skills by coming on stage, adjusting the equipment and engaging with the audience as if they were intending to perform. Rhea then led them in a warm up exercise called “Feel Your Feet” which relaxation techniques of limbering up starting with the feet and working up to the hands and head, followed by loosening of the vocal chords with humming and lip trill exercises.

After lunch, each of the workshop participants performed their selected songs (or tunes in the case of a musician) with Rhea’s coaching and the other participants feedback. In each case, Rhea provided constructive ideas for enhancing their performance and encouraging their journey as a musician. It was amazing to see the extra confidence that each had gained after seeing and practicing these skills.

The workshop concluded about 4:00 pm to give everyone time to relax before the evening performances starting at 6:30 pm. The event program went great and each of the participants took to the stage with their new found added confidence.

Perogies and Jam and the Wendy Brook Festival thanks Rhea March for her exceptional coaching and leading of this performance workshop.


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Photography by Rob Hughes