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Applying The “Lead Sheet” Concept To Your Live Presentations

In music there are multiple ways to notate a composition and ways of organizing arrangements, traditionally with sheet music, but with specific notations and standards for certain instruments with alternatives such as tabs for the guitar or other short hand forms of notation not sticking to the traditional sheet music format. One of the more popular formats, especially for jazz, blues and rock musicians is the lead sheet.

The lead sheet chooses not to spell out the exact arrangement nor ignore notation of the most important aspects of the music that make the song what it is, such as chord change ups and transitions, tempo, and major themes melodically. However the exact way each note is played, unlike traditional sheet music, isn’t actually noted and instead it is up to the musician to come up with his own interpretation on the fly, in rehearsal or even writing his own parts for his her her own moments.

The lead sheet leaves it open to the musician how exactly the finer parts are handled while keeping the musician on track as to where they actually are in the song and what needs to be emphasized to make it the song that it is in the right, key, tune and tempo.

However this same concept, an abstraction of the traditional methodical approach can be applied to how you setup your live presentations, whether on stage or in video, a combination or equivalent. The way I do this is by simply making a list of the major topics and using that as a reference for me to expound on the topic at hand.

This is like a lead sheet as it keeps you on subject and in the right direction in a timely and structured manner yet lets you interpret exactly how its presented in its minutia. Just like the traditional equivalent in sheet music, in live presentations there is the script, that is the traditional way, and perhaps you might want to combine some key paragraphs of dialog interspersed throughout your list of points to expound on, having a hybrid between the script and the list formats for something with more depth either way, similar to a lead sheet in music.

Relying purely on personality and wit without a script can work sometimes, and so can simply relying on a good script without having any real personality, but ideally you want your personality to shine through even if every word and action you take is scripted so that your passion and conviction are as strong as they can be, rather than sounding like you’re reading. Likewise without a script you want to stay on course, cover all the topics you wanted in the depth and wit the words you wanted to use concisely in an easy to understand, digest way or valuable for reference.

Though you can achieve those results in any case, whether it be with or without a full script or simply with a list but perhaps this hybrid method I’ve suggested allows for just the right amount of structure, room and precision to make it easier for the speaker to perform in the ideal way.

Though no one can ever be perfect, it’s a continual practice, and these ambitious and positive mindsets considering all sides, can lead us to endless progress which is the process that is best and the point of studying and learning the art. Taking a step back and determining the best ways to prepare and systemize that process will always give us fresh takes on the practice to further enrich the contents of our research and development.

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